The Golden Rule of Disc Golf

Recently a disc golfer I know was disqualified from an event two hours AFTER he sank his final putt on the last hole. The fact that he won his division, and $750, was nullified because according to the tournament director and PDGA officials on hand he violated personal conduct rules by which we all agree to play. His reaction to the ‘DQ-ing’ resulted in a one-year ban from PDGA competition, or longer if he doesn’t acknowledge his transgressions and show some contrition for his actions.

The point of this post is not to address the rightness or wrongness of the fact that a win and $750 was in essence taken from this dude ‘after the fact,’ although that question has sparked much debate. Rather, it is to shed some light on what makes for an ideal playing partner in any form of disc golf competition. There are plenty of disc golf enthusiasts out there who are good people off the course – solid friends and rational individuals in most other respects – yet get a bit uncorked due to the frustrating aspects of the game of golf. I know, because at one time I was one of the worst, and I’m still far from perfect.

If you set out to list the qualities you’d most like to see in someone with whom you’re playing a round of disc golf, what would they be? How about the qualities that define the person who you don’t want to play with? Make your lists, then do an honest evaluation of yourself as a playing partner. Which list do think your fellow disc golfers would associate with you? Check out my lists below, and see if you agree with my assessments. More importantly, ask yourself which list best describes you as a disc golfer.

Good Qualities in a Disc Golf Playing Partner

  • Appears to be genuinely having fun no matter how he (or she) is playing or scoring on a given day. Good moods are contagious, and if the others in the group are enjoying themselves, chances are we will too
  • Watches others’ shots as closely as his/her own, and earnestly helps search for lost discs
  • Uses the time between his shots to decide what to do next, so when it’s his turn he’s ready to throw
  • Is considerate and courteous to other groups, observing correct etiquette such as giving groups on the higher number holes the right-of-way and keeping still when in the sight line of a player about to throw

Qualities in a disc golf playing partner you’d prefer to avoid

  • First of all, think of the reverse of all the points listed above. No one enjoys playing with someone who is constantly angry – whether at himself or others – especially if they exhibit that anger in demonstrative ways.
  • The most narcissistic of players barely make any effort to help others locate discs, and then will unbelievably expect everyone to search for half an hour
  • Other examples of selfishness on the course are not holding still and keeping quite while others are taking their turn to throw, repeatedly throwing out of turn, and throwing second and third shots in competitive rounds.
  • If you prefer not to breathe second-hand smoke, hear excessive foul language, or be close to other ‘personal taste’ related activities, you’ll likely avoid people who are insensitive to the fact that their idiosyncrasies hamper your enjoy a round of disc golf. On the flip side, people who take part in these activities but make an effort to minimize your exposure to them make a huge positive impression, even if their values and/or habits differ from your own.

The disc golf culture is one of the most open and clique-free in modern society. Newer or less experienced players who find themselves in a group with ‘pros’ often feel pressure to perform at a certain level so as not to stick out as the worst player in the group. Even the best disc golfers care far less about how you perform or score, and more about the lists above. Behave the right way, don’t waste time needlessly, and don’t bring the group down with anger, and you’ll be quickly accepted and invited to join them again.

The Golden Rule applies to many things in life, and golf is certainly one of them. Try to see your actions as others would perceive them, and if adjustments need to be made, make ’em. At least one person found out recently that bad sportsmanship can be costly, in many different ways.

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