Women’s disc golf clinics attract wide range of participants, create young fans

Wearing a journalist hat makes one think differently when at an event. But at a recent disc golf clinic, I was just really excited that my wife and daughters had not only agreed to attend, but were even looking forward to it. Being in dad mode, I at least snapped a lot of photos.

The event, a women’s disc golf clinic led by Prodigy Disc team members Sarah Hokom and Paige Pierce, was held in in Santa Cruz, Calif., three days before the Masters Cup National Tour event.

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My excitement came because I had waited a long time for my wife and daugters to show interest in my favorite sport (or activity, hobby or obsession). My wife used to play many years ago, before the kids came along, but it was always more about wanting to share something I loved. The kids have played a few times, but hadn’t gotten hooked yet.

Scheduled for 5 p.m., the clinic was held on a particularly windy (and cold, for Santa Cruz) day in April. As a disc golf instructor, I assure you that these are not ideal conditions for teaching or learning the basics of flying disc sports.

We arrived a little before 5 and, aside from one lady, were the first on the scene. Slipping into journalist mode, I asked her what brought her there. She told me she was from San Francisco (a 1- or 2-hour drive, depending on traffic), and had played a week earlier in the amateur Masters Cup event. The clinic was promoted during that week and during the Daisy Chains women’s tourney, held in Santa Cruz County the week between the amateur and professional Masters Cup weekends.

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Ragna Bygde looking beyond Sweden to make her mark on the sport

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Life as a professional disc golfer isn’t the most glamorous of career choices.

Especially for women.

The fields are smaller, which, in turn, makes the prize money smaller than in men’s tournaments. And that’s just in the United States. Add in being a professional women’s player in Europe and it’s even harder.

Ragna Bygde is one of the newest members of Prodigy Disc. (photo courtesy Ragna Bygde)

Ragna Bygde is one of the newest members of Prodigy Disc. (photo courtesy Ragna Bygde)

Such is the life of Ragna Bygde, one of the newest members of Prodigy Disc. A resident of Stockholm, Sweden, the 23-year-old Bygde has been playing on and off for eight years and comes from a family of disc golfers. Her father, Peter Bygde, is also a professional.

Being a professional wasn’t much of a choice for Bygde, though, as she made that move when she played in her first tournament.

“In Europe, there’s only pro for women,” she said. “So as soon as you get into the game, you are a pro.”

Though she had a father who played disc golf often, it wasn’t her first love. She did spend a lot of time with her father at Järva Discgolf Park, but it was just to hang out with her father.

“I never joined him though,” she said. “I was to busy working on my career in show jumping and synchronized swimming as most young girls did at that point.”

Something changed, however. During her teenage years, she started throwing plastic. Bygde said she saw another teen playing and wanted to give it a chance. The love of the sport didn’t take long to set in and she soon left the pool and horses behind.

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Women to take over Rattling Chains from May 12-18

Women’s Week has returned to Rattling Chains.

Before I continue, allow me to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all you discin’ mothers and any others who happen to come across the blog.

If you have been a follower of us since the early days of our blog, you’ll remember us declaring one full week last year as Women’s Week. Our plan was simple — to dedicate a full week to write about or have stories written by women.

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We did it in conjunction with the PDGA’s Women’s Global Event. For the week, we changed the look of our blog and ran stories that seemed to be a hit among disc golf fans.

Still, we did it in our early days. We had only been going at it for about two months and didn’t have the connections or contacts we do now. We had some pretty solid stories, but there were some about the Women’s Global Event and things like that.

The PDGA decided it wasn’t going to hold the WGE this year. It’s not a permanent thing, though. After all, the WGE drew more than 600 women worldwide playing in these events and it is a smart and strategic move for the PDGA to be involved in the advancement of women’s disc golf.

Despite that, we made a conscious decision last year to make this a permanent part of our site. As long as Rattling Chains is an active blog, there will be Women’s Week each May.

This year, we’ve started the week on Mother’s Day, which seems like the most fitting time to start our week to honor the women in this game. We’ll, once again, be changing the look and colors on our site and our stories this week are about or written by women.

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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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Opinion: One giant step — and statement — by women disc golfers

For something to be successful, it often takes small steps.

This past weekend, the women of disc golf didn’t appear to want to make a small statement. Instead, as a collective unit, more than 600 women made note that they were there to play the game.

Bravo.

Several months ago, when I first heard about the Women’s Global Event, the gears in my brain started to turn. How could we as a disc golf blog help to not only promote this wonderful event, but also work to help get women’s voices out there?

A women’s week came to mind.

I have to be honest, too. I never even connected it with Mother’s Day. In fact, it was Val Jenkins who noted that to me in an e-mail. Though she promised she wouldn’t tell “mom” about my gaffe of not realizing that WGE and Mother’s Day were the same weekend, I’m coming clean.

That just made this week at Rattling Chains more special.

As this idea grew, I spoke with the person who created our logo — Ben Coury — and asked him about switching some colors. He did it quickly. I looked at our blog theme and realized I could change the color to match.

Women’s Week at Rattling Chains was born.

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Women to be featured this week on Rattling Chains

Don’t be alarmed by the different look of the website. It’s for good reason, I assure you.

This week is a special week — and one that we as disc golfers need to embrace and help push.

Why?

There aren’t enough females playing disc golf.

And that’s a shame.

This sport is extremely fun and it works so well that people of any age, gender, race or anything else can play it. And with the proper work, anyone can become quite good.

Some of the finest disc golfers I’ve ever seen are female.

At the Vibram Open last year, I had the chance to watch some of the very best professional women — Val Jenkins, Sarah Hokom, Paige Pierce, Catrina Allen and Sarah Stanhope. The list can go on and on.

A few years ago — based on my stellar scores during the first round of a tournament — I was paired up with four women in the second round.

To say they thoroughly whipped me would be an understatement.

But what a difference. They were competitive, yet kept things loose, offered some advice and were extremely nice to be paired with, despite me not being so good.

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