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I panicked when I reached into my bag for my precious Star SL and realized I didn’t have it. We had been together for quite awhile, and our relationship, though rocky at the onset, had strengthened over time and she became the most trustworthy disc in my bag. I’m betting anyone reading this has had a similar love affair at one time or another. You find yourself reaching for the same disc almost every time a challenge presents itself, because humans, by default, stick with what they know. My SL was a reliable driver, put a slight anheiser on her and she would smile and just hold a line as long as you needed her to do so. If I needed to skip an upshot toward the chains, she would take off, scan the terrain, and bounce herself up at just the right moment to give me an easy putt to finish out the hole. It’s like we had this whole “Vulcan mind-meld” kind of synchronization. You can’t fake that. Oh sure, there were other discs. I had my share of brief flings with glossy newcomers with names like Katana and Valkyrie, but afterwards, I always felt so…dirty. Cheap and easy plastic whores were a distraction, but in my heart, I knew which disc loved me back.

Alluring, yes, but heartbreak and despair await

That day, my disc golf buds and I were throwing a sort of practice round. Two drives off the tee, it gives you a chance to try out different approaches to the same hole. For whatever reason, (and, truthfully, there are probably oh, say, 420 reasons) I forgot I had thrown my SL, and it wasn’t until we had gone to play the back nine that I remembered. I retraced my steps as best I could, but I never found her. Someone else surely did. Another player either found her before I went back, or after. I was seriously tweaked by this development. A relative newcomer to the game, I didn’t have many discs in my bag that I had already dialed in. I actually placed a bounty. But I never saw her again. Then a funny thing happened. I was complaining to my friend about it, and he remarked, “well, didn’t you find that disc to begin with?” Man, the earth shook, the angels wept. I experienced what drunks call ” a moment of clarity.” Yes. I had found her. She was laying there, in the weeds, looking battered and scratched but essentially intact. There was no one else playing that course at the time, so I placed her in my bag, and finished out the game. I had almost a year with her.

I’ve thrown plenty of 16 dollar discs into the lake, or deep into wooded thickets that would make a platoon of Viet Cong change course. I’ve spent more than a few hours searching, lifting up fallen logs, scattering leaves, reaching into dark recesses that could have, at any time, brought me face to face with a pissed off pit viper or a rabid raccoon. (Isn’t that a Beatle’s song? The rabid raccoon, checked into his room…) Sometimes I came away with my disc, (or at least some other disc) but many times, I sighed, gave up, and went on about my day. I emphasized gave up because that’s where I think you have to end this whole sordid business. I’m going to pronounce this as LAW, sent down from on high by the Discs Gods themselves: “The moment you stop searching for your disc is the moment it no longer belongs to you.”

Think about that. At some point, you just say tohellwithit and go do something else…finish the round, mow your lawn, split a pitcher of ale with your mates, whatever.

Once I accepted that, I stopped pining for lost discs. Someone will eventually find them, use them, and likely re-lose them. You know what? The Earth Mother will still rotate, the tides will continue to rise and recede, the sun will shine as brightly as ever. Let go. Breathe. Focus on the discs you still have, and take comfort knowing some other disc golf player may be enjoying one that you lost. Why begrudge him or her?

This post was motivated by two separate but overlapping events. On Saturday, I was playing a local course with Rock Solid and Travis Damn Quillen. We teed off on hole 7 or 8 and as we walked to our discs, another player approached and asked us if we had found his disc, which he described as a white Valkyrie. We informed him that we had not, but then the other player noticed Rock Solid putting a white disc into his bag. (We all carry quite a few white discs, simply because it’s an easy color to see in any season) Rock Solid’s neck hairs bristled a bit, but he did show the guy that it wasn’t his disc. I’m not sure what would have happened if Rock Solid had refused to show him, but I’m pretty sure any move to force him to do so would have resulted in that other golfer being air-lifted out on a gurney. It was beyond rude.

Then I heard a rumor that the PDGA will no longer sanction new courses that don’t include a “lost disc” box of some sort? Please tell me this isn’t true. It may be along the same lines as Obama’s “death panels”. Anyway, I don’t have the strongest Google-fu in the world, but I couldn’t find a source for this.

That said, applying a little etiquette is always a good idea. Goofus sticks the disc in his bag and hides it. If there is a name and number on the disc, Gallant will always place the call. But, the burden of return is always on them. I’m not polluting the planet with exhaust fumes so that I may meet you somewhere. Send me a postpaid envelope, I’ll put it the nearest box. If I see you on the course, I’ll gladly hand it back to you. Absent those two scenarios, I’m pretty much out. Deal with it.

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so are you gonna find somebody elses disc again and make it your own,or are you gonna by one
Well, maybe i wasn't clear. If I find a disc, and it has a number, I call. Beyond that, I don't feel inclined to waste time determining who had it last. Now, if they ever decide to engrave serial numbers on these things....

I buy discs all the time. When I lose them, I get on with my life.
You will only get the last word if you never die and never stop responding. :)

Mack tells us, “The moment you stop searching for your disc is the moment it no longer belongs to you.” I'm not sure that is an accurate description of property law but it is a pretty good way of looking at things. At least you won't be disappointed when you set your expectations that low.

Having lost many, many discs and having had many returned (two just last week which hid under a thick blanket of white and were found by buddies upon a thaw) I have noted two tendencies. One: there is no relationship between how beloved a disc is and the likelihood of its return. I get back the irrelevant ones with about the same probability as the good ones. Two: if enough time lapses between the loss and the return, even a beloved disc may not make it back into the starting lineup. Within a couple weeks a different disc has claimed a spot in the bag and I have learned it and adapted to it. So the loss, while painful at the time, may not be as devastating as imagined.

The exception to the 2nd rule is the MOST beat up disc in a slot (putter, mid or driver). The most beat up disc is often very, very hard to replace. I lost my most beat up Buzzz a couple months ago and I still am not comfortable with the various replacements I have auditioned. If I ever stop switching discs I might eventually figure one out.

Oh, a 3rd tendency may be worth mention: When a disc wants to get lost it simply refuses to be found. There have been a couple discs I spent hours looking for, which were not bad shots in the first place, and I swear they disappeared. This theory may have little support in science as we know it but seems to be what happened.
If I throw a Disc into the Lake , that's one thing but to have someone deliberately pick up my disc and not return it to me is not cool.
Donny, I guess the main point I'm trying to make is that the person who finds your disc should only be required to make an attempt to return it if possible. Like I said, if there is a phone number, you should call, and then the owner should do everything he/she can to get the disc back. But I keep reading these whiny posts about how keeping a found disc is "stealing." It just isn't, unless you deliberately pick it up and conceal it. Anyway, i hope there is no truth to the rumor that the PDGA will now require new courses to install a "lost disc box."
Hey Mark! I can tell you this....property laws would rightly place the burden of proof on the person claiming ownership. How, exactly, would one demonstrate that? I buy used discs from a place that have numbers on them, but I don't call the person to see if they want it back. I know some struggling players who sell discs from time to time. In fact, in this area, there are at least two guys I know that wade into the lake and scrounge for lost discs, which they in turn sell. I wouldn't think of asking a guy who that to give me my disc back for free. He earned it.

Now can i have the last word?
I've 'lost" four discs at home dg course,only one[1]!! has been returned.I still look for them when passing the spots,but not whole hearted.I know they are gone,found by others who,I hope, enjoy and experience their value towards their own game.Two were up high in tall palm fronds that do not give up plastic very easily,one I just absently walked away from after a good shot and realized my error.Retrace back and encounter,overhear another threesome talking how it's been a good day to "find" plastic.Now,one of these guys I've thrown with,helped look and find his errant discs.So I mention the color,name of my disc that I left at this basket and all become real quiet with those eye stares of who will mention the "found" disc.No one steps forward,bags are covered and switched to opposite side of bodies.."sorry to hear about your loss.." and off everyone continues.
Name,number have always been on my discs.How else does one get property returned if no "lost" box is available on the course.I've returned "found" discs to their owners without a name,number by a few questions and description when you run into them again.They are gr8tful when their "loss" becomes'Found"and are reunited.
Three approach basket holes still haunt me when playing,you feel that they are waiting for you to still look..Look and somewhat search those upper fronds out of reach to no avail.However,basket 13 will haunt me for my errant way of forgetting an old friend.Lost and found,but Not forgotten.Oh,those three guys will avoid me whenever I'm on the course,but I'll always be the better person.I've encouraged them to play a round with a few of us,but they now reject the invite.Throw far,putt well,look before you leave.
Mr. Ed, you make some good points, and the scenario you laid out, that disc was stolen from you, no doubt. I have no idea how a "lost box" would work, but I'm not against the idea, right up until they become mandatory.

I'm a former stick golfer, and 3 quality balls can cost as much as a good disc, yet there is never any expectation that golf balls be returned. I used to make some serious coin as a kid shagging balls and selling them to players.
One has to believe in Karma and how heavily it plays on people.I can still look at myself in the mirror;>}
I found a handful of discs over the last 4 monthes and I have returned 4 of the 5. The 5th one had no name on it or and markings. I gave it to the gentleman who runs the Tennis/DG clubhouse at the local course with instructions to give it back to the owner if someone comes asking, and left him my phone number. The other day I went in the clubhouse to get a water and the dude had the disc for sale in the used bin.
A couple of weeks ago, I found a disc, and like I always do, I immediately called the number on the back of the disc, The guy was thrilled that I would actually call and return the disc, but this is where it gets complicated. He said he got off of work in 2 1/2 hours, and he wanted me to wait for him. I explained that I couldn't do that, because I was just leaving and had a 4 hour drive to get home, but I would be happy to send it to him or hide it somewhere at the course. He then said "come on dude, don't be an a**hole, you can wait for me". So I said thanks for the disc and hung up, but on my way home I drove past play it again sports, and needless to say he sponsored me in the purchase of my new Buzzz that I've been wanting. So then I called him back and told him that if he really wanted his disc back he could pick it up for a reasonable price down at the store.
I like that story.

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