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Most of us grade life on a curve. Success and failure are relative terms. There are no absolute scales. If you earn XXX per year are you a success or failure? That question is often more difficult It depends on who you are and what skills you have and your health and sometimes luck. If you or I earn a million dollars we think we are kings. If Michael Jordan only earns a million dollars he is having a bad year, even in his post professional life. For others money doesn't mean anything and I might be missing the point altogether.


Disc golf is no different. Sucess and failure are relative. Are you a success because you have a 1000 rating or a 900 rating or ....? If Barry Schultz shoots 1000 rated round. I am sure he is not thrilled. Sucess is relative to your expectations of yourself. Those expectations may be reasonable or they may be fantasies. If a 950 golfer shoots a 1000 rated round he is pscyhed. An argument can be made that there are minimums. We have a poverty line. If you below that line you likely can't feed yourself much less your family. .200 is considered the Mendoza line for a baseball player. He aspires to hit .300 but knows that he is hitting poorly if he dips below .200. That is simply unacceptable. I have been flirting with the so-called disc golf Mendoza line since I began playing. I am currently at 808 and any sub 800 round is failure. I can accept that. As we acheive some modicum of success we recalculate the failure line. Ichiro would consider himself a failure if he did not hit at least .300. Many disc golfers feel that failure is 850, 900, 950 or whatever depending on what they have already acheived.

This past weekend I played in the Greater Milwaukee Open. This was a tremendous event run by Terry Miller and his usual cadre of dedicated cheeseheads. I shot rounds rated 851 and 805. I came in third of eleven novices. You know what? I have no feeling of success whatsoever. I feel that each of my rounds should have been many strokes lower. Sure, much of that is part of the disc golf fish story. We remember the putts we missed and the trees we hit. We forget the putts we made and the trees we miraculously missed. In any case, as I get a better feel for the game my expectations of myself increase. I am not the only one. I drove to the tournament with a friend who came in second in Advanced Grandmasters and was not happy with his performance. He had higher expectations.

Its hard to find a balance that allows you to enjoy relative successes but to continue to strive for higher ones. I assume we all want to do better. I figure that I can get better. If I was a player who felt that he had peaked I might feel diffrently. Even at 50 with age and gravity weighing upon me I feel that there is plenty of room for improvement.

I think I am going to try to find a middle ground. I still want to shoot a 900 round this year. I have never done so. That will be succes. No question. I still want to avoid sub 800 rounds. They are becoming less frequent I will still consider them to be failure. What's the middle ground? If I am over my rating for a tournament I will say I did OK. I will not be content, but I will not get down on myself. How did I do last weekend? OK. Success and failure are too extreme to measure my game over the weekend. I had a good time and did OK. My friend? He was a couple strokes below his rating. The artificial standard of succes- having his name called and getting a little funny money, didn't assuage the feeling of playing Not OK. I don't think he felt like a failure but he certainly did not feel a sense of success. I guess the most ironic sign of success will be to reach the point where I can win something and still feel like a failure. Of course that might be a golf success but an emotional failure. I will have to work that one out for a while. Or, I could just practice putting and move on.

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Comment by David Barish on June 4, 2008 at 5:51pm
An addendum- I played last week and played worse. However, I feel ok about it. Why is that? I jammed my toe pretty badly the night before the tournament. I really should not have played. I could barely get my shoe on and could barely walk. I am a lefty and it was the great toe on my left foot. It was very difficult to do a run up and very difficult to generate any power. On many holes I was throwing upshots where I really should have been putting. I was pretty good from about 100 ft in during the first round. I pretty much ran out of gas in the second round and bled strokes at the end of the round. Certainly not a success. However, given the way I felt, it was not a complete failure. The weather was beautiful and I was glad I went out and played. I would have been miserable if I had stayed home. I knew I would dilute my rating. That's not really important. I had a good time and worked on my short game. Its a shame because I had been getting more distance in my practice sessions before the injury. I was feeling pretty good about my game. Its now three days later and the black and blue is mostly gone. I will wait until this weekend before trying anything requiring a run up.
Comment by mark ellis on May 20, 2008 at 4:46am
It sounds to me that you have it right. Having both won and lost, I guess winning is better. But I would rather play well (for me) and lose than play poorly and win. I would much rather be good than lucky.

The journey is more important than the destination. By keeping alive the desire to compete and improve we become winners. As we get older the real victory is staying active. Most of our contemporaries are on the sideline.

Ramp up your practice I and I bet you will hit 900.

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