Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Toastmasters: Disc Golf: It's In The Air

The next speech is focused on utilizing visual aids. I was previously scheduled to do this project about a month ago, and had to back out last minute due to a tight deadline at work. When I was re-scheduled, though, I realized that I had really set it up just as an excuse to use the props (items I made for my Back to the Future 30th birthday - I still need to do a post about that! I'm pretty impressed with myself with what I put together), rather than the props truly helping to illuminate the point of a speech with its own valid purpose. Instead of reworking the first version, I decided to start over with a speech about disc golf. 

I started (or rather tried - it was all tested and ready to go before the meeting started, then the computer logged out and I had difficulties) with 0:30 to 1:30 of this video, which gave a bit of background and history of the sport. I thought that provided a more comprehensive overview than I could write to give as part of the speech itself, making it a valuable visual aid. I also showed the discs I use, demonstrated some aspects of how to throw, and passed the discs around for the audience to handle.

(Note: speech title borrowed from this other video, also worth a watch - just under 5 minutes.)

In the past 40 years, the sport of disc golf has grown to 4,700 courses and an estimated 2 million regular players.There are probably even more who play occasion - like me - which makes sense given the extremely low barriers to entry and the variety of levels at which it can be played. I learned of it from my husband, who’s been playing since his freshman year of college. We even played it on our third date! (He really tried early on to get me involved in it. :)) 

If you haven’t heard of it before, let me explain a little about how it works, and what makes it a fun and accessible sport. To play, all you need is a disc and a course. It’s essentially the same as regular golf: from the tee box, you aim something towards the hole, or basket in this case, and try to get it in in the fewest number of strokes, or throws. You really only need one to get started - and that’s what’s recommended, as you learn the nuances of throwing.

This is the disc I’ve been throwing whenever I play, a fairway driver; like with “regular” or ball golf, there are different types of discs, like different types of clubs, for varying purposes. As a driver, it has more distance potential but is harder to control, than say, a putter, which will fly slower and shorter, but straighter. The distance you’re throwing for a hole is typically upwards of 200 feet, or occasionally 500 feet. If you’re Abe, you can throw that full distance in one shot, and it’s just a matter of aiming correctly, or getting it to roll or skip on the ground ideally as it approaches the basket. I, on the other hand, take a minimum of 2 or 3 shots to even get within putting range, trying to balance control and aiming the disc, versus putting enough power behind it. 

I’m still learning the nuances - shift your weight, pull across your body, follow through with your arm and body. My putter, and my mid-range disc are new to my arsenal, that Abe bought for me at a tournament he was at last weekend (and won the amateur division), deciding that he’s seen me develop some good skills with my fairway driver and that I should soon start branching out. 

As you go “down” in the category of disc, you can’t put as much power behind, but you gain control, so that helps you balance those and other variables. You can see that between these three discs, there are differences in flight characteristics: shape, size of the rim, and flexibility of the plastic. These factor contribute to how these fly as we’ve been discussing, control, flippy, turning, power. abe has 18 in his bag, and there are many more options even than that. 

But I’ve been playing with the one disc, which costs maybe $12. This putter was $20, but that’s because of the design, that’s on the more expensive. Most courses are in city or state parks, and are open to the public for free. Occasionally, there’s a parking fee in state parks, or a recommended donation to a club that’s maintaining a course in order to improve it, but those are only a $1 or $3, making it still a very cheap sport.

 It’s a really great way to get outside and be active, and often enjoy some gorgeous settings in these parks. Though the fairways are manicured, in a sense, they’re generally left with much more of the landscape than you typically think of with a ball golf course, so as we travel it’s been particularly interesting to see the environment of where we’re at - a mix of evergreen trees and lush flowers on the coast in Anchorage, or the desert brush in central Oregon of Bend. 

 Even at two entirely different levels, Abe and I can play together, competing only against par or our previous best, not necessarily against each other. I don’t think there are really that many sports that that’s truly possible. With that flexibility, along with how easy it is to find courses - over 100 just in Oregon! (world championships were held in Portland this year) , and participate at a low cost, I think disc golf is a really great family-friendly sport for anyone to try out.

1 comment:

  1. I had no heard of it until I read a blog, her hubby loves Disc Golf. That's great it its so affordable :) and another reason to be outside.


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