Disc golf is a Frisbee™ game, of course, but what makes it different from other games like ultimate or double disc court, is that the disc doesn’t move until the golfer throws it. This static state of the disc encourages the mind to become passively related to it. In other words, the disc influences the golfer’s mind instead of the golfer’s mind influencing the disc. To be a successful player, the disc golfer must always relate to the disc actively rather than passively. The player, not the disc, is in control at all times. Once the disc takes over, the mind becomes susceptible to a myriad of influences that can at best inhibit and at worst totally destroy the mechanics of the throw.


The mental activity in disc golf involves mostly synthesis and control. Synthesis has to do with the planning of the throw. The control factor involves the emotional state of mind. And, while it is true there are certain fundamentals about the disc golf that must be learned by every player of the game, the understanding of these principles doesn’t require any towering intellect. The big mental challenge of disc golf is thus in the area of emotional control. And it is here that many potentially great golfers have been destroyed – destroyed by their inability to handle their emotions.

Two emotions especially are difficult for the golfer to deal with. One is fear and the other is anger.

The fear is generally fear of inadequacy. The demands for precision in disc golf almost parallel those required in mathematics; these demands are so great that there is almost no margin for error. This kind of pressure is too great for most people, and they crumble under its unrelenting force. That’s why it is so important for the golfer to understand as much as possible about how s/he must throw the shot. The more a person understands each element of the physical actions, the better s/he can implement the overall throw with absolute confidence, and thus the more easily overcome the fear of inadequacy.

It is the same stringent demand for precision that spawns frustration leading to anger so often displayed on the on the course. I think golf causes more self-anger than any other sport, and in most instances this anger is simply the extreme form of a frustration that can’t be expressed in any other way.

Anger has driven people to some remarkable actions on the disc golf course. I watched one day as a player threw two consecutive drives into the water. He then took every other disc he had in his bag and began throwing them into the water. He walked off yelling to himself about how much he sucked and hated the game. This method of dealing with anger is hardly the most effective one, but it is a classic example of how the game can reduce a highly intelligent, well controlled, and otherwise emotionally stable human being to a beast.

The problem here is the conflict created by two diametrically opposed concepts. You have on the one hand the mental formulation of the easiest way move the disc from point A to B, and then on the other hand the extraordinary physical precision required to carry out that task. To reconcile the two requires simultaneously a great degree of confidence and an equal degree of humbleness- a mixture present in most great disc golfers of the past. Confidence comes from experience and a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the game. Humility also comes from experience, which teaches the golfer that there will also be a couple bad shots; that 100% technical proficiency is impossible; that the game will win more often that individual golfer ever will.


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Comment by Chuck Kennedy on May 31, 2010 at 10:11pm
8. Those who seem to have too much anger sometimes make disc golf the most important thing in their lives and for some that may be the case. So failure on the course is interpreted as their failure as a person. While you may be driven by a competitive nature to play as well as possible, having other successes and important things in your life, or learning to view them that way, can sometimes help reduce the anger tied up on the days when your disc golf performance is less than your standard of perfection.

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