By Kevin Morrow — For Rattling Chains
Standing on the first tee, I turn to face my group.
“Hi, my name is Kevin Morrow and I’m an 825-rated player.”
I then get that true support-group reaction, in unison.
Sometimes, I feel like my playing in disc golf tournaments equates to being an addict. It’s a lot of self-abuse and nothing good comes from it.
Let me back up a little bit.
I began playing disc golf in 1986. By the early 1990s, I was playing tournaments and finishing in the middle of the pack in Am2. I stopped playing tournaments in 1996 and by 2002, I had stopped playing entirely.
In all of those tournaments, I never cashed or won prizes. A few years ago, I picked up my discs again. Last year, I began playing in tournaments again. A big part of that decision was because of the local club — the Spotsy Disc Golf Club. I joined this year and it’s a great group of golfers. Being around them got my competitive blood flowing again.
Being at the back end of the masters division and being an 825-rated player has unique situations. As a player who isn’t new, do I enter the rec division or intermediate? Or do I man up and play advanced masters?
I had no grand illusions. I know how I play and no matter what group of club members I play with, I always end up with the worst score. I’m pretty sure there are 50 bag tags in our club. I have No. 49 and the only reason I don’t have No. 50 is because they didn’t hand it out.
This past year, I entered five tournaments — one in the rec division, two in intermediate and two in advanced masters.
My goal heading into any tournament is the same — don’t come in last.
Sometimes, it hasn’t been easy to meet that goal. I knew I was going to struggle playing in advanced masters, and I did. I finished last in the division by six strokes, having the second-to-worst score of the day. Take note — the worst score was a DNF.
My next adventure put me in the rec division. I did feel a little guilty and ashamed for dropping down, but I figured it’s where I belonged.
After finishing seventh out of nine players, I wondered if I needed to petition the PDGA for a lower division.
In my next tournament, I jumped up to the intermediate division. After the first round, I was in 12th place out of 36. I felt pretty good about it. I was able to hold onto that spot and finish in the prizes (payout was to 13th) for the first time!
My prize haul? Three Discraft Crystal Z Buzzzes, one of which I eventually dyed into a trophy disc that sits on my desk at work. The best feeling about this finish was being able to join my club members who had all either won or finished second in their divisions.
That feeling didn’t last long. To the next tournament, which I also played intermediate.
Not only did I finish last, but for the final two rounds, I was paired with the intermediate women. That actually wasn’t a bad thing. They were a lot of fun and a lot better looking than those who I usually play with. If I had played in rec, I would have finished in the middle of the pack.
For my last tournament, I went back to advanced masters. The good news was I placed fourth. The bad news was there were only four players in the division. I’ll still take that fourth-place finish.
It never failed, though. At each tournament, I asked myself — at least once — “why am I doing this?” Sometimes I even questioned why I played this game at all.
Then I remembered — I’m a disc golfer. This is all part of the game. I gripe, just like others from winners to anyone else who finishes in front of me. There’s a comfort for me knowing, even before a tournament starts, where I’ll likely be finishing.
Some call it a defeatist attitude. I counter that by saying there’s no pressure. It’s all about having fun. I might even put together a couple of good rounds and cash. After all, it’s happened before.
One of the better players I know made a comment about me during a round at a really tough course. He may have just figured out why I still play the game. We were halfway through the round and I threw one of many bad shots. I grumbled about it, walked up to my disc and threw my next shot.
He said he had never seen a player complain about his shot and then 30 seconds later be joking about it and having fun.
That stopped me in my tracks.
I realize I do complain a lot during a round. I try not to, but once the gripe is done, it’s out of my system and on with the next shot. And, back to fun mode. After all, the game is supposed to be fun. That’s why I play as much as I do. That’s why I’ll play more tournaments in the future.
Some of my friends are good enough to win local events and one is good enough to finish runner-up in his division at worlds. I’ll settle for vicariously enjoying those victories on the sidelines.
This year, I get to play advanced grandmasters. I’ll set my goal a little higher — to finish in the middle of the pack. That shouldn’t be too hard if there are only two or three entered.
I finished the season with a rating of 841. This off-season, I began some physical training to get into better shape and lose a few pounds. I’ve played at least on round and spent a few hours each week in the back yard. So far, the effort has paid off. I’m throwing 25 to 50 feet farther than last year.
Ahh, the promise of a new season.
The new season started off with a victory. It was a New Year’s Day doubles tournament and I played with a great kid, Austin Pfaff. He’s an amazing young player from our club and we always seem to play great in a team together.
It actually came down to the last hole. After battling from a few strokes down, we were tied. My drive landed about 20 feet shy of the basket, the closest in the group. Our opponents were about 25 feet out. I hit my putt and the others missed the birdie attempt, giving us the win.
The best thing I took out of that day? Even though my partner is many times better than me, I was able to contribute to our victory. I didn’t just try to not suck, I was actually able to throw the drive we used for a birdie or make a tough putt every now and then.
In our local winter Chili and Charity tournament, I threw my lowest tournament opening round and was one shot off the lead. And, even though I three-putted just about every basket in the second round, I was still able to stay in the prizes.
And that proves, to me, things are looking up and getting better.
Kevin Morrow is a disc golfer based in Virginia. You can see more from Kevin at his blog.
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0 thoughts on “I’m in last place and feel fine — why an 825-rated player enters a tourney”
OMG, you sound just like me,a struggling thrower searching for better technique and distance, discs that work for me, griping happily, knowing deep inside you’re good…, but I’m a little older and a division ahead.
Great story of which I, and many others, can relate!
For all players out there that suck and know it but continue to play in tournaments and have fun (and not give up), most notably myself, I salute you!
Bang the chains!
Great story Kevin. And I can feel your pain although I’ve placed in the cash/prize/trophy several times. I should point out I’ve never cashed in a PDGA sanctioned event. Not even close. My rating is 870 something I think. At almost 60 years young I’ve tried Advanced Grand Masters, and Intermediate but the result is still the same, middle to the bottom of the division. C’est la vie.
I also understand the mindset of not finishing last. I usually have that same goal after the first round when my score is atrocious. But going in I never think DFL. Leading up to the event its, “In the money this time, in fact I’m gonna take first.” It doesn’t end there either, I also want to cash on CTPs and the Ace Pool. Then at the start of the event I assess my competition. Of the locals I know where I stand, who I have scored lower than and who is out of my league on my best days. So I can still figure on a decent showing. As they say, “thoughts become things.” So a positive outlook is key to success.
But for me the competitive fire burns regardless of the outcome. I truly just want to compete for competition sake. So sanctioned, non sanctioned, casual I play to play the best I can and the score will take care of itself.
The other thing for me is not the outcome of an event, but the social aspect. Playing with and against my buddies. Playing with those friends you only see at events. And meeting new folks. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone on the course who I didn’t enjoy playing with.
Bottom line, have fun.
That’s me to a tee. I,ve been playing for decades, but my first tournament was in 2010. My game is very inconsistant, but felt that I didn’t belong in Rec solely based on how many years I’ve played the sport. I signed up for Intermediate and the TD stuck me into Advanced Masters because of my age. I was pretty nervous, then had a blast with a group of great guys my own age and didn’t finish last.
When I played in my first tournament (PDGA sanctioned), I had been playing DG for about a year. I came in last in the rec division, so I came in dead last. I thought there should have been some kind of consolation prize for last place; not money or something nice that would make someone strive for last place, but maybe a gag gift. Maybe a “good sportsmanship” award would have been nice, even if it had gone to someone else.
I didn’t play in another tournament for about 18 months, and the only reason I played in another tournament (this time non-PDGA-sanctioned) was because it was a fundraiser to feed the homeless. I didn’t win anything, and I was disappointed to find out they were selling mulligans when I got there. A couple weeks later, I played at another non-PDGA-sanctioned tournament at my home course. It was a fundraiser to improve the course, and thankfully, there were no mulligans for sale. This time I came in second place in the rec division (out of four). Unfortunately, the guy who took first place in the rec division scored better than the winning score in the intermediate division, and his score could have placed him in the running in the advanced division, so he was definitely a sandbagger.
Now there is a PDGA-sanctioned tournament being scheduled at my home course, and I am torn about registering. I really shouldn’t spend the money to register or re-up my PDGA membership, but how do you pass up an opportunity to play a PDGA tournament at your home course? I don’t even know if they’ll have a rec division.
One thing that helped me improve my game was changing my home course from an unorthodox but relatively easy course to a more orthodox but more challenging course. I’ve shaved five points off my handicap in the last month, and with my confidence on the rise, it makes sense to sign up for more tournaments. I wonder how long they’ll let me continue to play in the rec division.
Great story! The way I see it, better to have a higher number bag tag than none at all.
I’m right with Simpletwist on “The other thing for me is not the outcome of an event, but the social aspect. Playing with and against my buddies. Playing with those friends you only see at events. And meeting new folks. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone on the course who I didn’t enjoy playing with.”
I’ve only been playing seriously (as in getting out to play, at the very least, once a week – I can’t get out enough!!!) about a year and a half. Soon, I’ll be 61 and look forward to continue having fun with the sport! As “Steady” Ed said, “Most fun wins!” 8^D
This is why I love this game. If you want to be great, you can go out and do it. There are plenty of outlets and opportunities for you to run with the big dogs and try to attain the highest level possible. But at the same time, and often in the same place, you can just relax, have fun, and not worry about trying to get on the lead card. There are tons of players out there just like you that are learning and growing, or maybe just screwing around trying to blow off some steam. Disc Golf is a great place for both!
I read this post and it’s something I’ve heard before as a caveat to those tournament directors who are trying to stop people from intentionally playing in a lower class so they can rake in the winnings. I do not play and have never played tournaments so I do not have a lot of input on the post.
I will say that I recognized the name, ‘Kevin Morrow’, and it wasn’t until I saw the last picture until it all clicked. I enjoy your YouTube videos and would like to see a post on disc dying for noobies. Thank you for your support of disc golf.
I had no idea this post would connect so much. Thanks for all the great comments. Jeromy my next dye I’ll video tape it and post it up.
Great Article. Now I don’t feel so bad!
My rating is under 700. But I’m planning to play a bunch of tournaments this year anyway (mostly in ADV-GM). I’d love to get over 800. I envy you.
Hey Kevin, thanks for sharing your story. Today was a tough disc golf day as I realized a recent injurt to my shoulder may really have an impact on how well I play in tournaments this season. But no matter what my goals are that is not the real reason I play. The disc golf comunity is one of the most diverse and more interesting groups of people I have met in my life and I appreciate them so much. Have a great year and I hope you improve your rating by 20 points this year!
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Nice article. I got last in a tournament once on my home course. I am better now, but I never respect people who say they tried disc golf and gave up because I didn’t give up. I salute you because you haven’t given up.
I’m living proof to not give up guys.
The week this story is published I played the Sherando Spartan today. What a difference a year has made. Last year I threw a 70/77=147. This year I threw a 64/68=132. A savings of 15 strokes.
I earned my first ever win in a PDGA event. I placed first in Advanced Grandmasters. I was able to keep it together for 40 holes.
Thanks again for all the great comments and keep playing!