By Aaron Minton — For Rattling Chains
“Eight of Spades!” I called out.
“Who has the Eight?” As I searched around for the guy with the eight card, (my 5-foot, 7-inch stature was not helping at all) I hoped that my new partner, and single-serving friend, would be just below my ability level.
This last summer has been one ruled by disc golf.
As a teacher, this is a good thing. Keeping me busy between Breaking Bad episodes on Netflix and reading super nerdy history books, disc golf kept me busy and in shape. This day was different as I finally got the gumption to attend leagues this summer. I spent 100 dollars on a membership back in December at my favorite course and was ready to test my skills with my non-regular disc golf friends.
The cost is $6 for members — the usual greens fee (or, should I say, tree fee?) for non-members. Five goes to the payout and one goes to the ace pot.
Back to the cards.
“Hi, I am Aaron.”
Mike was a tall fellow, young and unassuming. I had never seen Mike around before and was continuing in my hope that that he would be right around my level, you know, shooting about 5-over-par on average.
Mike and I were the black eights. We drew the cards at random, and were paired with the red eights. And yes we started at the eighth hole. The logic followed as the 50 or so disc golfers meandered their way to their card-directed tees. It was me and Mike, best disc, against the world.
I made small talk with Mike and the red eights. Mike had just graduated from a private school in town. I asked him what his plans were for the fall and he said that he wanted to eventually do something with disc golf. While in high school he did an internship with the course on which we were playing.
This was my first clue that maybe my partner would be better than me. I decided to ignore it. Because really, I had 8 years of disc golf behind me and he only worked on the course and sold discs in the shop for a summer, so no need
to panic just yet.
After we flipped a disc to see which team would tee off first, I got a little more comfortable with my surroundings. I am a member at the course we were playing and knew it like the back of my hand. We started at hole 8, a tree-ridden, 380-foot downhill and over-the-creek shot where I count myself lucky to just bogey, let alone par. It’s either the best S curve of your life or tree plinko to even see the hole at the bottom of the hill. Mike went first. Before he stepped up to the tee he gave a disc golf disclaimer.
“My buddy convinced me to come to leagues last second and these aren’t even my discs.”
Now I am ready to take the helm! This team is nothing without me. I will be the hero to this young lad, a role model, really.
Mike then pulls out a Roc. On this 300-foot hole? Really? A Roc? I usually try a sweet S curve with my pro Valkryie and hit 17.5 trees and just hope to get a good lane 150 feet out. Confusion and panic set in. I am preparing myself for my own humiliation on this hole, and now this guy is going to throw a Roc?
Mike stands at the edge of the tee.
No X-step? Not even a crow hop? Just standing there? I at least give it a little momentum.
Then magic happened.
Mike released his disc right through the only lane possible. It was clear he meant to hit that lane. I was impressed for half a second. Then the disc just kept going, no trees, completely straight. The hole itself lies straight ahead of the tee. No fancy dog legs or mandos. Mike floated his Roc just to the right of the tee and parked it five feet away.
This is how the rest of the day went. Mike parked em, I putted ’em (except for when I missed). My only saving grace was an uphill 250-foot drive where I always throw a thumber and park it 80 percent of the time. Mike was genuinely impressed. I had a better drive than him and that team birdie was mine (not one of his 13).
My league experience that day changed my outlook on the game in two ways. Not every tee off demands a driver, I have been using mid-ranges and slower drivers to get more control off the tee. Also, never overestimate your game and just enjoy it. I know after being in the gallery at the Vibram Open twice now, that someone, somewhere, is a lot better than me.
When and if you do attend a league in your area for the first time do not go to prove yourself. Something may happen that may throw off your game and you will miss out on the camaraderie and fun the sport has to offer. Go to learn, but not to teach. Only offer advice if it is asked of you, or if you ask if it is wanted. It is a great sport and leagues are the best way to meet players and enjoy the sport even more.
Aaron Minton is a disc golfer based in Spencer, Mass., throwing plastic often at Pyramids and Maple Hill. Follow him on Twitter @AverageJoeDG.