If you're not a LADY, You're a CADDY.
I have made a personal goal this year to be a more competitive disc golfer. To this point in my disc golf journey, I have had few women in the area to compete against. Of the few women that would show up at events, I knew that I was either going to shoot 10 entire strokes behind or ahead of them. I’m a solid intermediate player by rating, the other locals are (now) recently turned pro, or just staring to play one tournament each year. I have always had a really difficult time wanting to pay a significant amount of money to play a tournament that I would not have a chance to win. (Yes, I know that is not a great attitude to have.) My way of dealing with the lack of women to this point had been simply to sign up for the bigger tier events which boasted higher numbers of women. And as you might expect, when you play only one or two A/B tier events each year… you get very nervous,you make silly decisions and you get your butt kicked. Especially when you decide to play up to advanced just so you can compete in a division with other people playing.
Somewhere along the line, I decided that I wanted to play more often. I started realizing that we need to grow the number of women playing disc golf in order to solve these problems. That’s where the DOLLs came into play, but that’s another story for another blog. My personal goals over the last few years involved growing the sport, even at a recreational level, and hopefully that would help my own game grow. As I’ve experienced some huge success with my league (and really the entire Wisconsin Disc Golf scene has shown great growth, as evidenced by the tour events selling out months in advance), I made the decision coming into this year that I would renew my PDGA membership, obtain a rating, and try to at least grow my rating so that I could have a sense of competition. Because the initial tour event was run by a friend of mine, I was easily persuaded to play the season opener. 5 women showed up, and I actually played with women in an appropriate division! (SO FUN!) Then, Terry Miller decided to allow the women to compete in his Skyline series for a mere $10 with trophy only option, so how could I pass up playing that? Again, I played in a field with enough women that I had to really play the game to keep up. What fun to know I had a shot at winning, but I had to actually play well to do so. I saw that the next tour event was filling quickly, but the advanced women’s field was filling far faster than the intermediate division. I wanted to play with a field of women again. I wanted to play, in fact, with the particular women that were playing this event in the advanced field. And the player’s pack was shaping up pretty sweet to boot. I took the plunge and played out of my rating to be social.
My goal over this last weekend, at the 2nd Wisconsin Tour event was simply not to make a fool of myself. I kept telling myself now that I am PDGA current, I have a rating to think about. I could come in dead last for the day, and it would still have been a good day if I could play a round at or above my rating. I practiced my putting routine more consistently. I played a lot more casual rounds on a solo basis, really thinking about my disc selection and trying different shots and approaches in case I came up to a new throw on this new course which I had not played before. The combination of great company and practice seemed to have paid off, because playing out of my own division, I had cashed for the third weekend in a row. That’s a first for me. (Actually, I’ve cashed in many tournaments, but there’s typically no one else playing… so… ) I actually managed to play more than a hundred points above my rating. And as most golfers know, it’s the hot rounds that keep us wanting more.
So now my dilemma. I have played and cashed at two separate events in the Wisconsin Tour. I really want to try to compete for the year end division title, but I don’t know which division I should continue to compete in. Unfortunately, a win in one division does not in any way affect my score in the other, so I really should make a choice and stick with it. My initial instinct was that I would obviously be more competitive in the intermediate division. The “pros” in this case are obvious. It’s typically cheaper to compete in the intermediate division, and the competition is more evenly matched to my rating. On the other hand, there’s always the fear of out playing my rating and being forced to move up mid season, effectively losing all my accumulated points towards the tour. Plus, I found another very big advantage to playing up to advanced that was very unexpected. These women, though they are my friends and I can’t wait to see them, are a lot more competitive. There’s a lot less small talk, and that awkward silence forced my verbose nature to talk to myself. (Mentally. And it’s only crazy if you answer yourself, right?) I found that playing in a more competitive group, with less chatter, I played a lot better. My mind was occupied with my next shot and my disc selection and what the crazy wind was going to do to my normal drive. With all the time I had to devote towards conversation with myself, (and I’m talkative, so you know that’s a TON of internal chatter) I put together some very strong rounds. I suspect that particular approach to golf might actually be more effective for someone as social as myself.
This brings me to only one clear path. I need to play the Skyline amateur series to it’s fullest extent this year. The event is extremely affordable. It will rally the girls I adore and can’t wait to see each weekend. But, it also combines all the women into one single division. While in some ways we might miss out on cashing when the stronger players come out for the day, we’re not missing much if it’s trophy only. (I currently have a perfect bag full of plastic anyhow. My new discs will be added to the DOLLs raffle this year.) When you do snag a victory, the trophies are really cool! I seriously doubt I could make enough improvement to outplay my rating and force me to play in the open division, and frankly, if I did, I’d happily accept the rating improvement. (Not an issue. Not in a million years.) I seriously encourage all the Wisconsin Am women to evaluate their personal goals in disc golf and consider coming out to play these tournaments with me. In fact, the DOLLs are interested in growing woman in the sport, so if you’ve never played a tournament before and would consider doing so, please let me know. I’d consider sponsoring you, so you would have no financial investment. (We’ll all help you learn the ropes, no worries.)
But regarding the Wisconsin Tour… I’m stuck. Since I took the plunge and paid my PDGA membership this year, I want to make the most of it. I had a strong start to the year so far, and I’m hoping it hasn’t just been a fluke. I’m optimistic that with practice, I’ll continue to have better shots more consistently. I have finally found a group of women to play more often with to get that practice, and I have found that I am starting to really enjoy my solo rounds as well. What to do???
I am reaching out to my fellow golfers for advice. What experiences have you had with this matter, and what would you suggest? Thank you for the advice!