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Meet the Blogger - Part 2

Our origins in disc golf are all unique. The game comes to us in different ways, and all those stories are great! When I think back on the first few times I played disc golf, I can only smile when I consider that poor young man had no clue how deep into the rabbit hole he was about to go. In part 1, we talked about how I heard about disc golf and the first times I played the game. Today, we are going to pick up at the day I decided to look up disc golf on YouTube. The day that inevitably changed everything.

If you haven’t read part 1, I would highly recommend going to check that out here:

https://www.justplayingdiscgolf.com/blogs/just-talking-disc-golf/meet-the-blogger

That first video introduced me to some incredible names like Paul McBeth, Nate Sexton, Eric Oakley, and Eagle McMahan. Little did I know that someday, I would eventually meet all of them and even get to partner up with one of them in doubles play for charity. I watched these guys play at DeLaVeaga, a classic course in California where the real “Top of the World” hole is located. I was hooked. Instantly, I wanted more. I started watching the recommended videos and found tournament coverage.

For the next several weeks, I was obsessed with watching tournaments and seeing more and more and more disc golf. The different types of discs were amazing, and the idea of competition got me very excited to get back onto the course. At that point, I started tweaking my form, trying to understand how I could throw better. I went out and purchased a few more discs at different speeds. At that moment, my goal was simple. Never lose to my friends ever again.

What I didn’t know was there was a disc golf society much larger than I thought. I had only watched the pros do it. I didn’t know about leagues and larger courses. I still thought that small school property courses were all there was out there. Boy oh boy was I wrong about that.

I started to consistently beat my friends, not because I was much better than them. I was just the weird one in the group going to the field to practice throwing over and over again. I was putting in the work trying to get better every week. A friend of mine had mentioned hearing about a league that was playing weekly about 30 minutes away. Ever seeking more chances to compete, I drove to Lime Bluff Recreational Area, ready to show others how good I had become.

(Insert dramatic wake-up call to reality)

That night, I was put on the same card as Tom Smith and Skip Hummel. Both of which were drastically better than me. I got smacked around that course big time. They were the best players I had ever seen outside of the professionals on YouTube. I later found out that Skip was a sponsored pro. My jaw dropped when I realized for the first time that I was just a tiny little fish in a humongous pond. For some people, they would have been content with that moment. Not me. I wanted more. I wanted to win.

I came back out to the same course that weekend and played it twice, scoring better each time. I bought more discs and started to build a legitimate bag. I downloaded Udisc and got my membership to the PDGA. It was time to test my skills in a real tournament. I signed up for my first-ever tournament, the Crawdad Cooker. To show you how new to the sport a lot of my competitors were, there was no one in the recreational division with an active rating. We were all a bunch of newbies.

I finished at +20 and placed 5th out of 12. I felt decent about that until I looked at the rest of the field. It was time to grind. I then received my first rating of 808. As it would happen, I had a tournament the very next weekend. The Death Putt Open. I took everything I learned about that first tournament and decided to put it into action. I finished in 2nd place out of 17. Next up was the Red Rose Roundup at Roland Park. This was my first time in the Lancaster area, where I would eventually end up living. I took 5th out of 20, and my round rating was 896. So very close to 900. I wanted that mark so much.

Reviewing the rounds I had played, I made the decision to move up to Intermediate. Play with better people and you will get better. That is what I thought walking into the Head for the Hills tournament at Coyote Hills. This was the toughest course I had yet to play, and it beat me to the ground. I finished second to last with a score of +30. For a moment, I almost decided to go back to the recreational division. I was signed up for 1 last tournament at Lime Bluff. I decided to finish out the month in the Intermediate field and reassess then.

Going into the Lime Bluff Open, I wanted to play well. This was the course where it all started. I could play that course with my eyes closed. The tournament started, and everything clicked. Not one time did I check my score or look at the rest of the field. I just enjoyed playing good disc golf. At the end of the round, I found myself in the lead having shot a -7 which was 970-rated. I picked my jaw off the floor and realized that I had to defend a lead. This is something I’ve never done in a tournament before.

I played very defensively, trying to match the others on my card. By the end of the day, I had taken my first win. That feeling was intoxicating. I wanted to find myself on the podium again. That was the last tournament of my 2020 season. In total, I played 5 events. You want to know how much I wanted to win and compete? I would eventually go on to play 27 events in 2021, but that’s a story for next time.

Come back next time to find out why my collection of discs quadrupled in size and my event travels began taking me to other states! Things were about to take off in very crazy ways. Find out more in part 3 of Meet the Blogger!

 

Gary Daddario III (www.thumberlife.com)

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