Avoid overconfidence and playing up can be a valuable experience

Darren putts during the pro event last year at the Jersey Jam.

By Darren Dolezel — RattlingChains.com Staff

It turns out, there is such a thing as overconfidence in disc golf.

The closest course to me during the week is the course at the Rutgers Douglas Campus in New Jersey. I play the course at least three times per week, and likely average about three rounds per day when I play.

So to say I know the course would be an understatement.

Last year, at the New Jersey Jam, I tied for fifth in the Am3 division. The second day, despite scrutiny from some friends, I spent the extra money and played in the Open division, despite likely having no chance to place. However, I felt the experience was invaluable.

It’s my belief that I actually played better than I normally would have because I was playing with those of a higher skill level.

Despite shooting just four strokes worse than I did during the amateur day of the tournament, it didn’t even bother me that I finished last in the tournament. I did this because I love the game and wanted the experience.

When I first started playing disc golf, my thought process was to become competitive and win tournaments — or at least give it a solid effort to do so. Now, it’s more about having fun and enjoying the time out on the course.

I’ll also admit that I don’t mind playing in bad weather. I competed in an Ice Bowl last winter where it rained the whole time — a driving rain. I still had fun and that’s what it’s all about for me.

But the fun also fuels the competitiveness.

I’ve been told by some that I’d be crazy to play in the pro division at the New Jersey Jam again this year (which runs in August). But I’ve made up my mind that I am going to do it.

Maybe it’s foolish of me or maybe I’m overconfident about my ability to play at Rutgers. But, either way, I think it’s something I can do. I find it funny that some people who play their ratings are called sandbaggers and, some people who play up to try and get better, are called foolish.

Some pros might even get bent out of shape about people playing up. And, I guess I can see that when it sometimes takes people two shots to reach the professional’s drive. If it’s that big of a problem, tell me face-to-face. Though I’ll tell you how I feel, as well.

When you play a course by yourself or with friends during a casual round, you often do well because you are out just for a good time. But, when you play in a tournament, you can get bent out of shape and do horrible. I don’t think it’s overconfidence, however. I think it’s because you’re not having fun.

I have a solution, at least for myself.

Enjoy the game. Be smart and go for it when you can. Do your best and you’ll do fine.

Darren Dolezel is the resident creative guy at Rattling Chains. He often finds odd objects to turn into items useful for disc golf. He’ll share these items occasionally at Rattling Chains. If you have an idea you think Darren should try, e-mail him at: darren [at] rattlingchains.com.


0 thoughts on “Avoid overconfidence and playing up can be a valuable experience

  1. In terms of “playing up”, I wish I had. I’ve only played one tournament, Discraft Great Lakes Open. This is my home course so I had some overconfidence. However without a PDGA rating I decided to play Recreational division and placed 53. If I played in the Advanced division I would have placed 19, and gotten to play with better players.


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