The Community of Disc Golfers and About All Things Disc Golf

I'm no fan of labels. Never have been. Whether it be the newest intellectual or political movement (notice I separated the two), the latest pop-culture fad, a celebrity or musical act, or any other medium that opens itself up to branding by those willing to classify it, there's likely to be a few new labels associated. I, as I've recently come to discover, also have a label. I'm what some of you refer to as a "casual".

From what I understand (and that's admittedly very little), there are certain guidelines and precedents one must either meet or exceed in order to break free from such a label. I don't know what these guidelines are as they pertain to my situation, because as I've stated, I'm just a casual. I imagine that you amount to very little without a PDGA number. I make the assumption that if you've never played in a tournament, you know nothing of the sport. Or, perhaps, all it takes to be a "casual" is inexperience. If so, how much experience is enough? How many rounds do you have to play before you can "level up"? Surely there must be an answer, but don't bother checking the Internet. I've been to the end and back, and I still have no idea.

Now, perhaps I'm just being a curious kitten, but does anyone know what label those who don't fit the "casual" mold have been stuck with? If, in fact, they have been given a label, I've yet to hear it. So far as I can tell, "casual" is essentially another way of saying "amateur', so it stands to reason that those who aren't members of the "casual" persuasion might be considered professionals? But wait. A professional (as the term pertains to sports and recreation) is defined as "a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs: a golf professional."* From what I've been able to gather, very few disc golfers can earn a living playing this great sport. It's not that they aren't good. The money just isn't there yet. Even the a lot of the top pros have a full-time job, folks. Hmm. I think the pool of "casuals" just got a lot more crowded.

I'm not here trying to instigate war between "casuals" and "whatever-they-ares". I'm simply making a point. Labels aren't of any use, simply because we're far too diverse to be grouped. Some like a little smooth jazz and red wine with dinner, while others prefer to watch the tube and wash down their pizza with cheap beer. There are those of us who are pro-life, and others who are pro-choice (I'll leave blogging about this topic to you). Some of us throw Champion plastic, while others choose ESP. All of these differences among us, and yet we all have one thing in common: disc golf. You see, labels do nothing but divide us, when what we need, what this sport needs, is for all of us to stand together. Solidarity will make this sport flourish.

Call me what you will. "Casual", "Newbie", it makes no difference.

I'm a disc golfer. And that's no label. That's a fact.

*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/professional Definition #11

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Comment by Chainz-4-Brainz on June 3, 2009 at 8:26am
I usually take what Mark says to heart, based solely on the fact that he seems to know what he's talking about. I once heard Wazeecha described as a "Zen" course, and I admit, I agree. I play alot at Standing Rocks and Yulga as well, so that I don't limit myself and my game. Not to mention I need the variety. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make stops at any other courses yet, as my current work schedule dictates that I don't stray to far from the area. Bummer, I know.

If you have any other info on the upcoming tournament, I'd like to know more about it. I can't promise I'll be able to play, but maybe I could come check it out, maybe get an idea about how the tourney thing is done.
Comment by ROBEY the one. on June 2, 2009 at 9:12am
what mark said is true. if you feel like getting your feet wet there is a tourney in point in two weeks. it has a large rec division, which would be great for your first, and should be a great tourney!

also if you are always trying to get better you need to play more courses than wazeecha, because thats a pretty easy course.
Comment by mark ellis on June 2, 2009 at 7:58am
Hey Chainz,
I knew you sounded too classy to be a true casual. :) And now it has been revealed, you are a closet Competitor!! Well, maybe it is time to emerge......

You may not know a tougher opponent than yourself but I do. Me, for example. And if I can't push you enough there are lots of players better than me who can.

When you throw a shot which is good for you at your current level you are satisfied with it. If you were playing with someone better you would be trying to figure out how to improve that shot. You don't need a better shot until someone pushes you. You don't even consider that certain shots are possible until someone does it against you.

You don't know what your upper limits are until you push those limits.

When you find the right environment, competition is very fun. Jump on in. The water is fine.
Comment by Chainz-4-Brainz on June 1, 2009 at 12:28pm
Judging from these fine comments (which I appreciate very much), the general concensus seems to be that what makes a "casual" a "casual" is that they do not play competitively. I can see where this seems like a legitimate arguement, but it poses another question: How do you define "competitive"?

I don't participate in tournaments, nor am I a member of any local clubs or leagues. Perhaps one day, but right now, it's not something I am interested in, nor would I be able to commit myself to it appropriately. Not enough hours in the day, I suppose. However, I consider myself as competitive as they come. Every time I step out onto the course, I have a goal in mind. There are shots I need to make. There are holes I must birdie. Regardless of the fact that I'm on the course alone, that doesn't mean that I have no opponents. I'm always playing against the course, always attempting to beat my best score, and always trying to improve. If that weren't enough, I find that I'm always playing against myself. I pit myself against my shortcomings, my hang-ups, my lack of self-confidence everytime I play. Personally, I can't think of a tougher opponent than myself.

I'm sure my definition of "compete" differs from others, because really, it's all relative. If you ask me, "compete" simply means "playing to win". If I'm out on the course all by myself, and if I make an honest effort to meet or exceed the goals I've set for myself, then I'm doing just that.
Comment by Garrett Graham on May 30, 2009 at 11:36am
Casual to me is a player that does not play to compete. I was and still sometimes am a casual. the most important thing is respect the course and players playing that given course. but above all have fun. being a casual is not a bad thing. It means you just aren't ready to be competitive yet. Keep throwing and respect the sport.
Comment by mark ellis on May 30, 2009 at 11:24am
There are Casuals and there are Competitive Players. Everyone starts out as a casual (except me, but that is a different topic).

At the point a player decides to be Competitive, they stop being a Casual, though, I guess theoretically they could revert later.

A Competitive player is on a mission to get better. That motivation defines them and influences all the choices they make. They develop a respect for the sport, for the courses and for their fellow Competitors which is typically lacking in Casuals-sometimes completely lacking. Most importantly, the Competitive player develops a respect for themselves and a realization they can succeed under pressure.

Now we have to get Vangerman back in the Competitive spirit.
Comment by Chainz-4-Brainz on May 27, 2009 at 6:21pm
Thanks for reading, fellas. I appreciate all of the feedback!
Comment by ROBEY the one. on May 27, 2009 at 11:45am
i agree with most of the posts on here, definitly terry. heres mt 2cents......... i believe that there are two main groups of discgolfers that most people far into, casual golfers and competetive golfers (no matter what the level of competitiveness). when i talk about's casuals i am almost always talking about the people who do not have pdga #'s, or affiliation with any clubs, or don't play tourneys. it has nothing to do with skill level or etiquite. the problem comes when people with no etiquite or morals get called a casual when the truth is they are more of a noob than a casual. a casual normally still knows rules and etiquite, but a noob might not. there is just such a large number of noobs giving they casuals a bad name because they dont know what they do is not the prefered course conduct. but a newbie is still a casual, and thats where more disgression about the words we use would be put to good use.
Comment by Donnie Brooks, Mini Disc Golf Federation on May 27, 2009 at 9:33am
Nice expression of what you feel and observe. I never use the word casual to describe new players or people who do not use the rules or etiquette properly. I do have some suggestions for the so called "Pros" in the sport though. I feel that it is our duty to approach these people and acually befriend them with some Disc Golf education. (in a kind manner). Invite them into your group or club. Teach and educate them on the rules and etiquette. Be PROactive not CASUALly passive. We must all do our part to help new players to grow in the sport.
I remember my first time on a Disc Golf Course many years ago. I walked up to a group of Players that I did not know. Turns out they were Pro PDGA members. I had a handful of old Frisbee lids (no golf discs) and asked if I could join thier group and get some pointers. By the end of the round, I had been encouraged, educated, given explanations and examples, and made a group of new friends who I still play with on a regular basis. I was even given a few old Golf Discs to learn with. This experience meant all the world to me and I am still passionate about the sport that all started that day.
Nascar Dave got a card with some great info on it. Maybe we can all take it upon ourselves to do something like this instead of calling lesser players names, getting mad at them when they throw on you, and causing situations with anger. This will only deter these new players rather than encourage them to continue to play. My way is to approach the person or group, introduce myself, and ask questions like how long have you been playing and may I explain some courtesy and rules of the game to you. I think this works alot better than yelling back at them and calling them casuals or even newbies.
As for me, I still play casual rounds. This means that I still follow the rules and etiquette but on these rounds I am more relaxed and not as competetive. On these casual rounds, I do not keep score. Casual rounds for me are more like a walk in the park while throwing discs.
Chainz, as you know, not all players have kind hearts. Some are very angry people. I know because I have met all types on the course. Just learn the rules, etiquette, and be polite to all you meet on the course and I think you will not be called a casual anymore.
I also have to agree with Mark that it has nothing to do with the PDGA or your abillity to play the sport. It is an attitude or ignorance of the rules and courtesy. Keep playing and learning as you go with positive mental attitude, and you will be ok. Thanks for letting me put in my 2 cents. I hope it helps.
Comment by Nascar Dave on May 27, 2009 at 8:36am
Excellent blog Chainz.

I think the reason the label of casual seems to be used in a negative light most often is because like Mark said, the newer golfer often is lacking in courtesy and etiquette. Usually when even a newbie has started to play in leagues, minis or even tournaments, they start to learn these traits that make playing with them more enjoyable.
Most disc golfers that have played for even a couple years know and understand this. It's something that everyone learns and sometimes in a not so nice way which is too bad. If this has ever happened to you, I'm sorry but I'm glad you're still a disc golfer.
Someone once gave me a scorecard with the rules of disc golf etiquette. Maybe it will give some understanding.

1.Do not produce any distracting noises or visual distractions while others are throwing.
2. Do not throw until you are certain that the throw, the flight, or landing will not distract another player or interfere with other park users.
3.Allow faster groups to play through.
4.Place litter in trash receptacles.
5.Do not break tree limbs or modify vegetation on the course to provide unencumbered flight space.

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