Diarrhea of the Arm: When extra shots hurt rather than help

Have you heard the term ‘diarrhea of the mouth’? It’s when someone can’t seem to prevent words from pouring out of their mouth (basically he/she can’t stop talking, whether from nervousness or a genetic flaw passed down through generations), usually leading to a detrimental result. I believe the currently accepted term for this is TMI (too much information).

Competitive disc golfers can suffer from a similar malady, and the term ‘Diarrhea of the Arm’ seems to fit. (OK, I’ve typed that disgusting word three times already, including the subject line, and that’s enough. I think you get the point). In the case of disc golf, it refers to a player’s tendency to throw extra shots after a throw or putt that doesn’t go the way he/she intended or hoped. In my experience these extra shots during a competitive round almost always have a few things in common:

  • They seem to be a kind of knee-jerk reaction, unplanned until it’s clear that the original shot is obviously not getting the hoped-for results
  • They are usually hastily executed- rushed, if you will
  • They usually also display an exaggerated correction of whatever the player perceives to have gone wrong with the original shot.

The most common – and in my opinion, most harmful – example of this, er, affliction, is the second putter that is thrown at the basket in disgust after a missed putt. More often than not it also misses the basket, or slams the chains with the anger and distain intended. It also occurs on drives and upshots, but the follow-up mad-putt is the classic example. Every time I see a friend do this I want to tell him that all he’s doing is reinforcing bad habits.

My point is this: If you’re playing a practice round, or practice holes, with the pre-planned intention of throwing repetitive shots, that’s great. More people (including me) should practice that way more often. But, first of all, if you’re playing a round of golf you should play by the rules (even if you’re alone), which in stroke play clearly state that all strokes count. And even if you and your pals have established that such ‘practice’ shots don’t count in your rounds, don’t let such reactionary shots leave your hand unless you’re able to replicate your entire pre-shot routine with the goal of learning and getting better rather than angrily proving you coulda/shoulda made it. Treat every round, and every throw, as practice, and a learning opportunity to build on for future days.

If you have an interest in getting better, that is.

Video coverage of disc golf: A realists take

If you’re reading this, you most likely are already sold on the awesomeness of disc golf.

Likewise, you probably greatly appreciate and enjoy any live video coverage of the seminal professional events of our sport. But if you look at it with a critical eye, you gotta admit that even the best the sport has to offer is pretty amateurish. The Players Cup coverage last weekend wasn’t much better – in terms of video AND commentary (no offense to my pal Billy Crump) than what the average Joe with a single HandyCam can produce. Coverage of the USDGC was a little better, but still failed to convey how disc golf has become a near carbon-copy of the Grand Old Game, with all its nuances and intricate mental challenge.

I make this point not to denigrate the efforts of those on the bleeding edge of disc golf promotion, but to stress how tough it is to accurately portray golf of any kind on screen. If you think about it, ball golf events use DOZENS of different cameras in order to create the finished product they broadcast. One camera shows the golfer addressing his lie and striking the ball, another captures the wide-angle shot that shows the ball in flight, and a third is able to show the result of the shot. That’s three cameras required to capture EACH SHOT. Think about the resources needed to cover par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s on an 18 hole course!

My point is this: Most of the people that dedicate their time and in some cases financial resources to broadcasting disc golf must be doing so in hopes that it will help to take disc golf ‘mainstream’ as a professional sport. While their intentions are to be commended, the nature of golf – disc, ball, or otherwise – does not lend itself to simple and accurate video representation- without nearly unlimited resources. The projectile (ball, disc), on most shots, travels a good distance away from whoever hits or throws it. And in disc golf, video tends to lose the twists, turns, and other nuances that shows the uninitiated how disc golf is more complex than simply ‘throwing a Frisbee’.

If your goal is to take disc golf mainstream, doesn’t it make more sense to always have the uninitiated in mind? Don’t cater to the person who already knows what a great sport disc golf is . . . cater and market to the other 99.9 percent of the population! Until we reach critical mass (and, hint, we ain’t close yet) we should focus on growing the market of players before we even thing about the market of viewers.