Do you miss… or rattle the chains?

From snowmen to pro: One woman’s journey in disc golf

Jenny Cook’s course directory and map to help her become a better golfer.

(Note: The following is a personal account by Jenny Cook on her climb in disc golf as a female player. Enjoy!)

It all started with a snowman.

Not the kind made from snow, but the kind that can creep up on a scorecard as an 8.

Hole No. 2 punished me with a 7.

Hole No. 3 — another snowman.

From hole No. 4 on, I probably didn’t see a score on a hole better than a 6. It was frustrating how every shot I threw only went 150 feet and raced straight to the ground. Hard.

After that hot summer day of playing disc golf in Rockford, Illinois, I only played a handful of other times, most often in the streets of my college town for a round of object golf. Other than that, I wasn’t sold.

Jenny has used dedication to improve over the years.

One year passed.

The summer of 2005 brought many changes to my life including a new commute to and from my new job. Along that route I discovered a much less intimidating disc golf course — a little “9 hole-r.” I stopped to admire the oak trees with metal baskets peppered throughout the property. It was beautiful, convenient, and reminded me of why people called me the outdoorsy type.

“I should be out there,” I thought. “No, I belong out there.”

Soon after my mini revelation, I decided to buy a few discs from the local mart, swallow my pride, and hit the course.

Even if it was going to hurt, I was going to give this disc golf thing another try.

I picked it up again on that same 9-hole course. Hole No. 1, started with a 4. Not bad, I thought. But as I looked around at all of the other people playing, I concluded that my 4 was a disgrace on this 235-foot hole.

I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated at first. Not just because I was terrible, but because I didn’t see another female disc golfer. I weighed my options — miss out on something that could change my life, or sit in the corner worrying about what all these guys thought of the “only girl out there playing.”

It was obvious. I would press on.

After a month of playing every weekday after work until dark, I decided it was time to befriend a few of the locals. I wanted to be educated about disc golf. I quickly accepted a few tips on how to improve my game along with my first
putter — a Pro Line Rhyno.

Jenny’s first putter — this Rhyno — which is now retired.

I figured that if I kept swallowing my pride and played with people who were better than me, that I, too, would rightfully start earning more deuces and grow as a disc golfer. The weekends now belonged to disc golf, too. It was me, my Disc Golf Course Directory, and my map.

By no means did I become a better player overnight, and my first tournament proves this point with these two letters — DL (dead last). Because no other women were present that day, I decided to compete in the men’s recreational
division. That’s not the only thing I finished last in — I was DL for the entire tournament.

Well, I thought, I can’t do any worse from here on out. It will only serve as inspiration to keep on competing.

My competitive edge crept up on me during the summer of 2006.

I appreciate a casual round of disc golf as much as a round that is played for a rating or money. But at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was compete. I joined the PDGA.

After I played my first tournament that year, I started a journal and wrote about every tournament I played in. This journal has, since then, served as a tool to help me to learn from the mistakes I made during the round, and also take note of what I did right.

Being one of the few females playing courses over the past few years, I have observed the number of male disc golfers compared to females is significantly higher. Proof of this can be seen during a casual round and on a tournament
registration list. This jump in numbers is often a topic of discussion on public forums, social media and even talked about among friends.

I often hear the disgruntled male disc golfer chatting about how he can’t seem to get his girlfriend or wife engaged in the sport. My advice to those men is, “Don’t worry, there’s still hope.” Listen to her reasoning for not wanting to join you and your friends to play a round. It could be that she simply doesn’t enjoy playing.

Disc golf isn’t for everybody, believe it or not! But if she says it’s because she’s not good at it, then you have some options. Introduce her to less stable and/or lighter discs, stick to only mid-range discs, and use one-step drives off the tee pad.

You can invite other women to play with the group or browse the web for suggestions from women’s disc golf forums (such as Facebook and
discgolf4women.com).

The disc golf community can often times feel small, but it is making an impression in all corners of the world.

When I moved to Hamburg, Germany in 2007, the local disc golfers made me feel right at home. Showing me their local temporary course, they insisted that I never had to be the one to push the portable basket when setting up each
individual hole before we played it.

Jenny and her husband Matt at Blue Ribbon Pines in Minnesota.

They were also the ones to take me to my one and only sanctioned tournament in Germany, where I placed first in Open Women and also tied for first in the doubles tournament the day before. To my amazement, my partner and I exchanged very few words during the entire round — non-verbal communication at its best.

Moving back to the U.S. I was grateful to again be surrounded by courses which gave me the luxury of driving 20 minutes to the nearest course, and I didn’t have to go by train, foot or trolley.

There are hundreds of reasons to get involved with disc golf. Each of us has a story. But what I find most interesting is how this sport has affected us differently. Disc golf has the capability to engulf our lives in ways that might cause us to hang 200-plus discs on our wall, carry 25 in our bag, and keep an extra 40 in the trunk of the car.

For others, it’s a homemade bag with five discs and a hobby to take up with friends on the weekends. Any of these reasons, or somewhere in between, make us all have the same thing in common.

My goal is that disc golf will always be part of my weekly routine, whether it’s playing a round, taking pictures on the course, writing about it, or teaching new disc golfers.

I can only hope the next generation will consider easy access fairways for the old ladies like I will one day be, so that we may be able to, at the very least, walk the course and remember the “good ol’ times.”

Jenny Cook (PDGA 28692) is a women’s Open-division player based in Illinois. You can see some of her disc golf photography at her website.

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  • @inourdr says:

    Great story Jenny. My wife recently took up disc golf and seems to be enjoying it so far. We have found that the Lat64 Diamond to be a great beginner disc for women and would recommend it to any female that’s interested in learning the game. It also helps that all the guys in our league are very encouraging and seem to enjoy playing with her. Thanks again!

    May 8, 2012 at 11:39 am
  • Jenny C says:

    Thank you, @inourdr! All of the above that you mentioned are very helpful. I actually haven’t tried the Lat64 Diamond, but I appreciate you mentioning it on here! Glad to hear your wife is enjoying the sport!

    May 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm
  • Games says:

    Just look at what you would have missed out on if you would have stopped because you were not very good at first or because there were not many females. Good for you for going after what you wanted and it paid off.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm
    • Jenny C says:

      Thank you for your kind words! It’s so true… Not that I’d be on the “wrong” path if I chose not to pursue DG, I’m just glad that I did b/c it’s been one heck of a ride so far! Even brought my husband and I together.

      Thank you for reading!

      May 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm
  • Mike Harrington says:

    You have inspired me to write something other than my disc golf blog . . . I want to share my story about how I came to the sport and I want to share it with people who may not be disc golfers. Nice work Jenny!
    Mike Harrington recently posted..I’m Goin’ Back to Florida (Not Cali) 12/28-1/22 Second Leg 1/2 and 1/3 Tampa/St. Petersburg AreaMy Profile

    May 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm
    • Jenny C says:

      Thanks Mike!!

      Get writing :) Looking forward to reading your story.. I’d love to hear about how you stumbled upon disc golf, and so much more – - I know it’ll be a great read!

      May 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm
  • Nathan Lee says:

    hey Jenny

    Great read, my partner is in the same position you were in early on in the story. She is discouraged by the lack of other female players (even worse over here in Australia), is easily crushed by the odd snowman and finished last at an event we played at in Japan (as well as routinely at our local ones).

    She is good, she has a lot of potential, she even met the Australian Womens champ who told her of this! She is the current state champion, so heres hoping she kicks on and gives it a go.

    May 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm
    • Jenny C says:

      Thank you for your comment:

      Please tell your partner that she’s already in the midst of making history for the sport – - We are living in such an exciting time for this sport especially with the Women’s Global Even that just took place, that now is the time to keep ‘kicking on.’

      I understand the lack of female players in Australia – - are there girlfriends / wives / etc. of some male players that she and you may know that would be interested in joining your partner for a casual round? Maybe keep it an all girls things starting out.

      Current state champion? Recently met the Australian Women’s Champ?

      There are 1,000 reasons to press on – - Nothing should stop her from playing/pursuing the sport she loves. Nothing.

      :)

      May 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm
  • Daviar says:

    Hi Jenny,

    We are seeing a lot more women playing at Delaveaga. Oftentimes it’s with their husbands or boyfriends. However it’s discouraging for me to see them throwing drivers that hyzer bomb out on them every time they throw. I want to walk up to them and suggest they try throwing putters since they will usually fly straighter and farther than the drivers they’re having trouble with. Putters are closer to a beach disc for playing catch and often make the transition easier. I generally advise this for most beginners (female OR male).

    Mostly I worry that people might get frustrated their first time out (much like you were) and never come back to try it again.

    Another problem I see is the husband/boyfriend who brings them out to play doesn’t always have a good knowledge of technique or disc selection in his OWN game. So this summer I hope to have the Club setting up a “clinic” tent on the weekends at the course to offer new and intermediate players tips on technique and answer questions. Maybe this will help defer the “first time frustration” index.
    Daviar recently posted..Farewell to our friend, Steve “Slingshot” JonesMy Profile

    May 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm
    • Jenny C says:

      I see the same problem: I often times will approach another woman out disc golfing and casually inquire about the disc(s) she’s using – - if it appears the only reason shes out there is b/c of the male person/group shes with. I think it’s easier, as a woman, to approach other women on the course.

      YES! Running a clinic is a great idea! Especially if it means spreading the word that putters make for an excellent transition disc. Great way to learn control early in the game.

      Best of luck to you! Thank you for your post!

      May 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm
  • Clifford Anderson says:

    Good story, you write so well too! I’m a 56yr. old guy just getting started at disc golf. My drives are terrible, but my 2nd shot or putting is good.Joined a club here in Janesville, Wi.Friends of Lustig Park, and enjoyed the first Sat. doubles league last week. We played best lie or shot, which makes it more enjoyable for us challenged drivers. Only a couple of women in the league also, but did notice they come along with their men for support so guess there is an interest for them with the sport. Thanks for the wonderful story, will make a good point of referral for women to get involved also. So far I’ve found the sport to be full of good fun loving people who enjoy sharing an afternoon with others, and tips and advice from very experienced players.
    Cliff

    May 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm
    • Jenny C says:

      Great to hear that you have stumbled upon disc golf – AND that you are out playing leagues. Such a great way to get acquainted with the game + meet other people.

      Sounds like you have an excellent short game, keep it up! The distance on your drives will come..don’t you worry!

      That’s one thing I love about this sport: the willingness of others to share the knowledge and to help you grow as a golfer.

      Nothing beats an afternoon with fresh air + frisbee’s!

      May 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

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