Leagues can have highs and lows, but are well worth playing in

It’s league season again!

That is, it’s league season for those of us whose local leagues took a winter break. Now it’s time to catch up with league friends and to find out what they’ve been doing during this cold, bleak winter.

jenny_cookWhen bag tags are involved, it’s a perfect time  to remind each other what numbers are floating around and on whose bag.

I feel like a pretty lucky girl in that I have three or more leagues I attend in any given week. I’ve gotten to know the crowds that go to them fairly well and, for the most part, I find myself surrounded by good groups of people.

Plenty of leagues are run by local clubs, which push for good causes, hold member-only events and are, generally, a good support system for players. I am personally not a member of any club in Illinois or any other state. The only tag I have hooked to my bag is one from Rattling Chains. It’s nothing personal. It’s just, way too often, politics can get involved.

I’ve only seen two examples of this locally to me. Often times when there’s a club involved with running the league, there’s a sense of “course ownership,” which can trigger unwanted attitudes.

For example, there’s a league I’d like to start playing in again, but there’s one problem — there are obvious and large sighs and groans by some when they pull a partner they don’t know or isn’t one of their buddies. Unfortunately, this affects their mood during the course of play, especially if they make the assumption early in the round that they won’t be winning.

Some carry the attitude of if they can’t win, then what’s the point? They create this awkward situation within the group, and, especially with their partner.

I’m not saying it’s prevalent in every club or league because I’ve seen some amazing things come out of those combinations. As an example, one club runs a clinic for the local Boy Scouts and the money raised through league and extra donations have gone to concrete tee pads. And that’s not to mention the nice wooden benches built and the amazing landscape kept around the course.

Longer nights mean leagues are back in action! (photo by Jenny Cook)

Longer nights mean leagues are back in action! (photo by Jenny Cook)

All that couldn’t be done without the help of the club, league and a lot of people digging into their own pockets for funds.

And though great things can come out of clubs, I prefer to offer my support as a non-club member to all the clubs in any way I can.

Great things come out of leagues, too, such as learning the rules of the game.

Becoming familiar with the general rules of disc golf and of that particular league are two important things somebody can get out of showing up to play each league night. Of course, there will be many differences between the two. That helps to keep leagues light-hearted and friendly.

For example, some leagues can be pretty relaxed about certain things, such as “holing” out. If your disc is underneath the basket, it’s a gimme sort of thing. I have no problem if somebody else picks up that same disc to hole out with, but if I know there is somebody new to the sport in my group, I mention PDGA rules to clear the air and point out the rules.

When it comes to falling putts, I am no more relaxed with that as I am about basic etiquette, such as talking while somebody is throwing. I don’t care if it’s league play or an A-Tier event, please don’t talk while I am throwing. Leagues are a great learning platform for the rules, so I’m not about to chastise somebody for breaking a rule if they weren’t fully aware of it.

Then there’s the fun stuff — such as the ace pot!

I’ve watched these pots rise each week until they have been as high as $700. For those, of course, that aren’t capped. It’s amazing to see that and then in one night, three people will ace and have to split that pot. Honestly, though, who cares? They walk away with a thicker wallet. But when the ace pot gets this high, people start to talk. And with social media these days, word spreads fast when a pot is growing large.

A group heads to the next hole. (photo by Jenny Cook)

A group heads to the next hole. (photo by Jenny Cook)

That usually means people will come out who don’t normally play leagues. In order to control this, I’ve seen leagues implement a rule where a player has to play in so many weeks to be full paid out for the ace. That means the person has put in a fair share toward the league. I guess that’s a way of justifying you’ve contributed to the pot more than the $1 that day.

I’m actually not completely opposed to handing out a pretty ace pot to the person who shows up that one time and gets the ace. At least it got him or her out to the course to play, meet everyone and see what the league is about. After all, most are different and, at the end of the day, if you’re going to turn someone on to coming to your league, they have to come out and experience it first.

So, whether it be leagues or skins with the buddies this summer, have fun with it. Keep a positive attitude and keep the course clean. It’s not just up to the people who run the leagues and clubs to pick up garbage and help keep an eye out for the riffraff. It’s our responsibility, as players, too. As we tread on these beautiful courses and throw through trees that offer cool shade on really hot days, remember this — we are all in it together.

Jenny Cook is a women’s Open-division player based in Illinois. She can be e-mailed at jenny@rattlingchains.com. You can see some of her disc golf photography at her website.


0 thoughts on “Leagues can have highs and lows, but are well worth playing in

  1. Leagues are the bomb! You get to meet a lot of new folks, learn a little, and around here have fun while still competing. In Western NY there is a league almost every day of the week starting very soon. We even had a couple routine events, not really leagues throughout the winter.

    These leagues are random draw doubles, handicap, or just individual regular meetings. There’s even a glow league, Friday Night Lights!

    Early on I was apprehensive about joining because of a lack of confidence in my game. I just didn’t want to make a fool of myself. But once I joined, I was hooked. A casual atmosphere and great people! I even cash once in awhile.

    Another advantage to league play is it gives you a stepping stone to serious competitive events.

    If you’re on the fence about joining or even starting a league, go for it, what do you have to lose.


    • I think a lot of people are apprehensive about going out for league their first time.. I couldn’t agree with you more, there’s nothing to lose!


  2. I’ve seen the “aggressiveness” of leagues plenty of times during my solo casual rounds… I show up to a course where, unknowingly, a mini is going on and as I approach box 1, groups look at me with that mob mentality. They wont let me pass and make remarks about it being league night or I should pay to play. The F***? And even on the course, I’ve seen groups quickly drive as I approach them so I can’t pass. Although, I’d like to join a league at some point, this representation keeps me from it. So, like Notre Dame I maintain my independence. GO IRISH!

    On the flip side, as a new player (2nd year) I also see the benefits of leagues. I follow them on social media (It helps to avoid their minis, haha) because they offer great advice and information on what’s going on in my area. I also appreciate their involvement in moving the sport forward and in their community support. On a personal level, I’d like to join a league so I can be surrounded by better players more often.

    League or no league, I enjoy Disc Golf and have met a lot of cool people during my solo rounds. I’ve been offered great tips & info and enjoy the surprised comments or looks on players faces after a solid round, when they ask me how long I’ve been playing… That’s a definite confidence booster and a great compliment.

    At the end of the day, a bad round is better than no round. Get out there and play, one way or another.


  3. Pingback: Poll 52: Family and Cliques

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