Love is in the Air
Posted by mleefry
If I had a dollar for every time a disc golfer told me he wished his girlfriend played disc golf, I’d have enough money to install a course in my backyard. If I had a dollar for every time I have played disc golf with another girl…well, let’s just say I would be thankful disc golf is free to play.
The ratio of male to female disc golfers is astounding. As of this month, only 6.7% of PDGA members are women. Of the 3,523 players registered as professionals, 250 are women. These ratios mean that many tournaments offer more divisions for men than for women. This was even the case at the 2012 Amateur World Championships, where there were 3 fewer women’s divisions; no lady champions were named for the Junior <19, Senior Grandmasters, or Legends divisions. It is clear that there is a lot of room for growth in women’s disc golf. For a sport that is so focused on progressing, girls could be a huge resource.
A great place to start utilizing this resource is to get your girlfriend (or wife, or other special lady in your life) interested in disc golf. This seemed to be the trend at my first tournament, the 27th Annual Ice Bowl in Columbia, MO, the home of the Ice Bowl. Of the 55 players at the event, 6 played in the women’s division; all of us had a male significant other who was also competing.
So, then comes the big question, “How do I get my girlfriend to play?” As a disc golf girlfriend, here are 10 tips I recommend trying. No guarantee, but they worked on me!
1. Match her personality
One of disc golf’s best qualities is that it is a sport for everyone. It can be tailored to fit any level of skill, competitiveness, timeframe, or budget. The first step to getting your girlfriend to play disc golf is showing her that it is a sport for her. If she’s generally not interested in sports (like me), present it as a fun game and a great way to get outside on a nice day. If she’s more athletic, make it competitive, but still friendly. To get her interested, you have to make sure that the way you talk about disc golf appeals to her as an individual.
2. Easy on the terminology
The words we use to describe disc golf make up an entirely new language. You’ll need to pay attention to which terms she already knows and which ones are still new. You don’t want to confuse her, but you also want to make sure you’re not condescending by explaining too much. For me, it took a lot of effort to learn the lingo. I wasn’t familiar with basic golf terminology like “par” and “birdie,” so learning things like “hyzer” and trying to memorize that Wizards and Magics are putters was sometimes overwhelming. So, in the beginning, make sure you clearly define what each term means, and don’t get frustrated if you have to explain it several times each round.
3. Make sure she has the right discs
An important aspect of disc golf strategy is using the right disc for your throwing style. For beginners and for women, chances are that the right discs for them will not be the ones you use. Most beginners should start with just a putter and maybe a midrange; at such an early stage, most people throw putters and drivers the same distance. A putter can be used to get comfortable with playing—learning courses, developing good form, and snapping the wrist. Once these skills have been mastered, it will be easier to recognize patterns of how other discs fly. When she does need a driver, start with low weights and fairway drivers (I used an Innova Starlight Roadrunner until I lost it in a pond, then moved on to Discmania’s Jackal). These discs are easier to control, especially if she’s still working on building power and strength in her throws.
4. Start easy
Once you’ve been playing for a while, it can be hard to remember how much work it takes to play a round at your favorite par 64 course. Keep in mind that it is unlikely that your girlfriend will have the same disc golf endurance when she starts playing. You’ll probably want to start at a course with shorter holes that aren’t heavily wooded or surrounded by poison ivy and thorns (common course conditions here in the Midwest). If your options are limited, start by playing 6- or 9-hole rounds at a difficult course, and progressively play more as she gets more comfortable and develops her disc golf muscles.
5. Ladies first
Let her take the pad in casual rounds, regardless of whether or not she’s earned it. Be a gentleman. Easy enough. The only exception is if she asks you to go first, which may be the case if she’s unfamiliar with the hole and wants to learn from your shot.
6. Use “lady par” to score
When anyone first starts playing, it is unlikely that they will be able to regularly par holes. In order to make scoring more encouraging, add 1 to the par on each hole. A standard par 54 course becomes par 72. Playing and tracking progress will be a lot more fun if she has scores to be proud of—no one wants to announce a round with 13 double bogies, even if its better than they normally play. Adjusting the par will more accurately reflect how well she is doing as a beginner.
7. Make it a date
Pack up a picnic lunch or take a trip to a course that is especially scenic. If she’s not quite hooked on disc golf yet, she may feel like a third-wheel when she’s out with you and the course. Make sure she knows that the important part is adding disc golf to your relationship—not the other way around.
8. Encourage her to play with other girls
For a girl, learning to play disc golf only by watching experienced males is like being raised by wolves. No matter how much time and effort you want to put into helping your girlfriend, her body is fundamentally different than yours. A man’s center of gravity is in his shoulders, whereas a woman’s is in around her hips. Generally speaking, women typically have less upper body strength than men. Obviously, the process of pulling one’s arm across the chest for a backhand throw is significantly different for the two sexes. Your girlfriend will be able to get more detailed tips from girls who already throw, and not feel like as much of an “outsider” in the disc golf community. A great place to start is to introduce her to girls in your local disc golf club, then encourage her to invite her friends to come out and play too.
9. Resources and Networks for Women
In addition to introducing your girlfriend to individual female disc golfers, make sure she knows about the groups and networks that have been created to expand her opportunities. Start by finding ladies leagues in your area, or a disc golf club that has bag tags specifically for women. Beyond the course, the Internet is a great place to stay up to date with the female disc golf community. PDGA Women and DiscGolf4Women.com both have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, and have a variety of resources for ladies of disc golf to get more involved in their community.
10. Return the favor
If she’s willing to take a chance on disc golf, it’s only fair for you to do something equally out of your typical realm of interests for her. Suck it up and watch a chick flick or go to the mall with her. Let her know that you appreciate her giving disc golf a try. She’ll be more willing to play again in the future, and be more likely to get hooked. Eventually, she’ll be the one begging YOU to go out for a round.
Go to Dogleg’s Twitter @DoglegDiscGolf and Retweet our latest “Love is in the Air” tweet for a chance to win. If we get at least 50 retweets, we will be giving away a FREE Dogleg Disc Golf Tee! To be eligible, you MUST retweet it!