The Disc Golf Guy helps bring the sport to women

By Jenny Cook — Rattling Chains staff

When I think of Terry Miller — aka The Disc Golf Guy — a few words come to mind that create a recipe for a well rounded individual and promoter of disc golf: collaboration, dedication, hardworking, professional and innovative.

Some 20 years ago, Miller was introduced to the sport while at a summer camp. Using 50-class Frisbees and grocery baskets as targets, he competed in and won his first competition.

Terry Miller comes out of the woods for a shot. (photo by Kristin Reichensperger)

Terry Miller comes out of the woods for a shot. (photo by Kristin Reichensperger)

Later that summer, he played on his first “official” disc golf course, filled with baskets. That helped Miller get hooked on the game.

Fast forward to 2013, where Miller has gained a reputation as a course designer, teacher, mentor, and professional player. He’s also been the director for many tournaments, including the 2007 Amateur Worlds in Milwaukee, Wisc., and a tournament for last year’s Women’s Global Event at the Grey Fox course in Silver Lake, Wisc.

That Am Worlds tourney was the second time I ran into him. I’ll never forget watching him walking among the women’s groups and showing his support — something he’s continued to do throughout the years.

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Commentary: Get courses looking good to make them last

Working on a fresh piece of land is like having a blank canvas, which makes disc golf course design an art.

jenny_cookAs a result, when designers and contributors take the time for the careful design and implementation of the course and any type of course modifications — big or small — players get an unforgettable experience.

In the current world of disc golf course design, there are several aspects of design that can greatly increase the reputation of a course. There are many courses around the world that have made adjustments to their aesthetics, which increase the playing experience. For example, a hanging basket at the edge of a riverbank or a well-placed rock formation along a walkway to the next hole can make memories. General upkeep and monthly maintenance quickly increases the novelty.

Standout courses

Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, Oregon, is home to one of the best courses I have ever had the opportunity to play. I speak of this course from my experience of having played the original layout as well as the tournament layout (two courses) for the Beaver State Fling. From wide fairways and fir trees
that dwarf the baskets and people who play among them to nicely grooved tee pads and the overall scenery, this course is a must for your bucket list. The result of such attention to detail and thought is a disc golf course to which very few in the country can even compare.

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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.

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Photos of discs can be worth more than 1,000 words

Jenny Cook in front of some Frisbee-themed graffiti in France.

Jenny Cook in front of some Frisbee-themed graffiti in France.

To the average person, a sewer cap might represents all that is nasty and dirty and, simply doing its job to keep the sewer system below our streets. Personally, I look at it as an opportunity to capture a photograph.

I am thrilled when I stumble upon ones with the name of the city on top of the cap. Being in a foreign city or country, I also like to use the opportunity to place my CE Valkyrie on the cap, next to the city name, snap a photo and move on.

jenny_cook

I once found myself on an eight-hour layover in Paris, France. Once landing, I rushed out of the airport, hopped into a taxi and asked them to take me to the Louvre Museum.

In an all-too quick visit, I ran past the Monets and the Mona Lisa, which is much smaller in person, by the way. With a map in hand, I exited the museum and looked for the Eiffel Tower.

Trekking to the famous tower, I stumbled upon some graffiti on a temporary construction wall. The words said “Frisbee Style” and gave me a perfect photo opportunity.

I grabbed a disc out of my bag — a must for my carry-on — and propped my camera on my backpack, set the timer and sat down in front of the wall for a photo, disc in hand, of course.

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Finding go-to discs is never easy

OK, it’s time to get a little personal.

What’s your go-to disc? What disc can you not live without? If you’re playing on a cold winter day and your favorite disc hits a tree and cracks into small pieces, which disc would leave you devastated over your loss? More importantly — what kind of discs are the go-to ones in your bag?

jenny_cookIt all depends on who you ask. But, what’s more interesting is, why?

In the beginning I only knew of a limited number of places to go and purchase discs and, as a female golfer, I didn’t really know what to purchase. So I would try a wide variety and, eventually, the ones that qualified made it to my bag. Then I’d play another amateur tournament, do well, and bring home more plastic. The dilemma would return yet again. Do I make new friends with these discs, but keep the old? Mix them up? Or stash the new ones in my back up bag?

It seems like the brand that made it to my bag first and most often (because of accessibility) was Innova with a peppering of Discraft. I do wish, however, that with all of the friends I made when I first started playing, that one of them would have spoken up about the plastic I was throwing. That’s not to say I couldn’t figure out for myself that, as a new player with slower arm speed and less snap, I shouldn’t be throwing an Orc.

It would have saved me not only from the aggravation of trying to get the disc to fly straight but it also would have saved me from forming bad habits. Such as forcing the disc into an anhyzer in order to compensate for less snap and finally make it land ahead of me on the fairway, instead of it quickly crashing down left into the woods.

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Giving back can inspire others to do the same

By Jenny Cook — Rattling Chains Staff

There are many inspirations for this article. Perhaps my recent trip out west is most fresh in my mind. After spending time with locals and the tournament directors for the Beaver State Fling, I  quickly discovered the eminent presence of community between everyone.

They were open-minded and embraced the evolution of the sport we all love to play. And the tournament layout for the tournament proved it. If I could build a house next to any disc golf course in the world — and taking into consideration I’ve only played a handful of courses outside the United States and fewer than 200 in the U.S. — I’d build it within biking distance of Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, Oregon.

The scenery at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, Oregon is amazing. (photo by Jenny Cook)

The scenery at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, Oregon is amazing. (photo by Jenny Cook)

The scenery was amazing and the people were great, which created an unforgettable atmosphere.

I have seen something like this in my home state. In fact, I am reminded of it every year as a local club spends months preparing for its annual Ice Bowl in January. I love that bringing two canned goods to the tournament is mandatory. The money raised is given to a local shelter for women and children. There’s also always a hot lunch prepared for players and a nice warm fire where players can get close and thaw out.

Every year, we crawl out of our warm beds in the early morning to reunite with friends who we don’t see as often on the course in the winter as we do in warmer weather. It’s a sanctioned tournament and we’re all there to have good rounds, but if you don’t, you still drive home with a smile knowing that playing in this annual tournament benefited the less fortunate.

The added bonus is spending the day catching up with friends and playing some disc golf — even if it’s really could outside.

Disc golf serves as an outlet to get away from it all in a carefree way. I had the opportunity this past summer to help with a disc golf clinic for a local homeless shelter. The afternoon I spent with the children and adults was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

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Life as a women’s player can be tough

By Jenny Cook — Rattling Chains staff

Some of us are more competitive by nature than others.

I, for one, was born with a competitive edge. Just ask my father about the countless board games we’d play when I was a kid, or the many nights of staying up late just to play “one more game.”

Playing different sports growing up — including my favorite, soccer — taught me about perseverance and the determination to win, learn, and be challenged.

Jenny Cook getting her tournament game face on.

Which brings me to disc golf. Although I wish I would have discovered this sport in my early twenties (better knees back then!), I am grateful to be playing it now. Shortly after my first few rounds of disc golf, I heard from a friend that there was a governing body for disc golf, local leagues and even official tournaments.

They had me at “leagues,” and I was on board right away.

I immediately began playing in a local doubles league, which was an excellent place to meet people and to learn more about the rules that would later prepare me for the tournaments I’d play in.

I remember my first attempt at a tournament.

Jenny Cook was late to her first tournament and ended up spectating — but it turns out being in the gallery helped more than playing.

Yes, attempt.

I woke up late that August morning and rushed down to the course. I was too late to sign up and play that day, but honestly, I was a little relieved. I’ll admit I was nervous for my first competition in a non-team sport. I said hello to some friends and, instead of going back home, I decided to stick around and follow the women’s intermediate card.

Walking around in a tournament setting really calmed my nerves — all of my expectations and preconceived notions were set straight, because this was reality. And I loved every moment of it.

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Signage can go a long way in making a course top-notch

It doesn’t matter what kind of sign it is — as long as there are signs to help people navigate their way around courses. (photo by Jenny Cook)

By Jenny Cook — Rattling Chains staff

Navigation issues on the disc golf course: How would you rate your home course?

Navigating a disc golf should not be difficult.

I once drove 400 miles eager to play legitimate par 4s and hole-shaping shots to test my game. After the first few holes at this course, my mood suddenly changed when I began struggling to navigate my way around the course.

If the obvious natural paths cutting through the trees and worn-down grass past the basket take me where I need to go next, then I’m a happy camper and no signage is needed.

Signs attached to the bottom of baskets can be extremely helpful. (photo by Jenny Cook)

For times when I look past the basket to five different and equally worn-down trails, with no indication of which one to take, I’ll use common sense of course flow to make my decision.

But I don’t always get it right on the first try, which means I’m obligated to try each one until I find the next hole. One or two holes of this out of 18 is not a bad ratio. It’s when the number of times I experience this increases throughout my round that I become frustrated — especially if the paths lead you to several different unmarked holes.

Now it’s time for technology — if you have a phone signal, that is. I pull up DGCoursereview.com on my phone to compare the hole I thought I should be on to the photos on the website.

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Parting with plastic brings different results and feelings

By Jenny Cook — For Rattling Chains

A disc’s life starts off in a manufacturing plant somewhere in America, and for the ones that end up in our disc golf bag, each has a story as to how it got there.

Was it purchased at a local disc golf store, won at a tournament, given to you by a friend, or found on a disc golf course? Over time, some of these lucky discs become our go-to discs — our absolute favorites to throw.

So if that disc you simply can’t live without ends up in a murky pond, how long would you spend searching for it? The majority of the disc golf population probably wouldn’t hesitate to grab a rake and start scraping bottom, searching until the sun went down — or came up. I’ve even seen lost-disc flyers
posted at courses with “reward if found” written in big, bold letters.

Facebook and the social forums on dgcourseview.com also allow us to reach out to the locals with pleas, like, “I lost my disc on hole No. 4, in
the rough somewhere. Keep your eyes open for my Valkyrie please! Call if found. Reward!”

We love the plastic that’s in our bag and would do almost anything for it.

There can be risks involved in fighting to get our loved ones back. My husband once found himself in the position of raking the bottom of a pond in search of his putter — his favorite putter.

As he crossed a slick fallen-down log acting as a bridge, he slipped and landed on a branch — X-rays later that night showed he had two broken ribs and a punctured lung. Two weeks later, including three chest tubes and a
thoracotomy, he was released from the hospital. A full recovery has been made since then and up until this last July, his putter stayed in that unforgettable stench of a murky pond in Joliet, Illinois.

The blue Champion Rhyno was recently found among hundreds of other discs and, after a phone call, it made its way back into his hands. His favorite Rhyno now hangs on the wall. Two years later, the story is now complete because of that phone call.

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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.”

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