The thermometer is creeping up to triple digits, but Ryan B. endures the heat at the park – any park that has a disc golf course – to play some holes by himself. He sets his bag full of neon discs to tee off for a hole that is about 300 feet away.
He grabs a yellow disc and does his little twisty dance to set up his throw. In his head, he’s thinking one thing: wipe the countertop. He takes a deep breath and lets it fly. Ryan, Global Connections Inc. Condo Supervisor, considers disc golf his mental release. It’s his way of taking the chaos of home and work and, like the disc, letting it go.
“There’s really a Zen aspect to being outside by yourself,” he said. “I’m working on the ability to shut everything off besides just putting a round piece of plastic in a metal basket.”
For those of you unaware of the sport, think golf but with flying discs (calling them Frisbees is blasphemy in the disc golf community). But instead of a hole, you’re trying to get your disc into a basket. And what started as a social gathering three years ago, has made Ryan a passionate student of disc golf. As of January, he considers himself a serious player who can drop around $50 on six or so discs and spend a peaceful afternoon at a park for free. Even as the source of his inner peace, this little hobby had, at one time, the opposite effect.
“I became obsessed with improving to the point where I was watching videos and going on forums,” he said. “I had all this knowledge and I just started overthinking on the course. I got worse.”
Eventually, Ryan found that a quiet mind resulted in success. So instead of simultaneously going over each position of his hand and hips and each phase of the throw, he simplified it with everyday chores. When he used his driver, it was the same motion as wiping a counter. When he was putting, it was like shaking hands.
With natural movements and simple rules, almost anyone can pick up disc golf right away. That is especially true in Kansas City, which is becoming a hub for disc golf tournaments with its quality and quantity of courses. Ryan has only been in a handful of tournaments himself, his first and best performance coming in the 2014 Kansas City Corporate Challenge. He and his partner were good enough for a silver medal in Global’s division.
If you’ve never given disc golf a try, it’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon with friends or by yourself. There is most likely a course near you. Just grab some discs you have laying around and remember to wipe and shake.
“After I started playing full time, it was about getting better so that I didn’t get frustrated,” Ryan said. “Then you start to get addicted to seeing the disc fly. It almost feels unnatural, seeing how far you can make that little piece of plastic go.”