Disc golf tournaments mess with my mind. The days leading up to an event are filled with mental preparation and practice on the course. I tell myself things like, "just relax," "play like it is any other day," "have fun," "kick the course's grassy ass."
I run through this routine because in my first tournament I found out that I either suffer from performance anxiety or that I simply suck at playing disc golf. So, each time I enter a tournament I'm out to prove to myself that I can overcome my mental issues and also to prove to myself that I don't suck at throwing things in the air.
I have yet to accomplish either of those things.
On June 30 a free PDGA sanctioned tournament was held at SeaTac DGC. It was a fundraising tourney called the Sudoku Showdown where everyone was forced to play with discs weighing 159.9 grams or less. All I had to do was show up, make a donation if I felt like it and write a short pledge about something positive I will contribute to disc golf this year.
I've only played SeaTac a few times. It's not an easy course, but I figured I might be able to bump my player rating up a bit from a stagnant 901.
I had been throwing four light weight discs for about a week or so in the hopes I would get used to them. I bagged a Blizzard Destroyer, 150 DX Teebird, 150 Aviar and a 150 R-Pro Roc. At the tournament I bought a Blizzard Wraith.
When tourney day arrived I felt confident and the plan was to show up bright and early with an attitude fitting of a disc golfer that expects to win, which was something new for me. I usually show up to a tournament with the attitude fitting of someone about to take a hike in the woods hoping not to be mauled by a bear or a giant kitty cat... or a pack of drunken transients.
Check in was planned for 9 a.m. and I was standing on hole one a little after 8 a.m. After stretching out I decided to play the holes leading up to tourney central, which was located near holes eight and nine.
My first drive came out fast and on a perfect line for the trees off to the right of the fairway. I shrugged it off and remembered I was having problems with these discs ripping out later. I just needed to adjust. My second drive hit the same spot. "Not a problem," I said to myself. Nobody was around so I just ran out and grabbed the discs and came back to try again.
After my next drive went straight into the ground I got pissed. "Why is this happening," I silently screamed. I clutched the second disc and hurled it with passion. The flight was actually looking good until the disc hit a tree and bounced right into some tall grass and out of sight.
I spent the next 15 minutes looking for a lost disc.
Here we go again I thought. New tourney same unconfident play. I found the disc and continued to play on with some horrible outcomes. Deeper in to the course I realized there were mosquitos out to feed. I wasn't prepared for this and I spent a lot of practice time setting up for a shot, smacking my leg, setting up, smacking my arm, setting up, throwing and then smacking my leg again. By the time I arrived at tourney central I was an itchy guy taking a hike in the woods hoping not to get mauled by a bear, a giant kitty cat... or a pack of drunk transients.
When the first round began I felt a bit of confidence build up. I figured there was a chance I worked out all the bad play during my practice and I lucked out with a great group of disc golfers. One of them even offered to share their skeeter spray. Unfortunately, reality hit three holes in when I was sitting six over par and bleeding from my knee.
I drove home later that day thankful that I had met some cool local players, but a little depressed that I couldn't get my game together. I didn't place last, but that's not what I really cared about. I went in thinking this would be a quick way to raise my player rating, but instead it will probably drop it.
I couldn't wait to get those light discs out of my bag. Now everything is back to normal and I'm back at it practicing my mental game and my drives. One day I'll hit that 400 mark and one day I'll actually play a tournament like someone that knows how to.