The game of golf holds many similarities to disc golf in the mental and strategy arenas. You may not love golf, you may not watch golf, but you certainly can become a better disc golfer by learning how golf professionals attack the golf course. In this first article of a potentially long-running series on disc golf lessons from golf, we take a quick look at the 2020 Masters.
Even if you don’t play or watch golf, you likely understand the similarities to disc golf. You probably have also heard of Tiger Woods and understand that he is arguably the best player in the game’s long history. The Masters tournament is one of four “majors” for the sport and is hosted at a very prestigious location that extends the lore even more.
Setting the Stage
The 2020 Masters brought us a wonderful example for disc golf. Tiger was mostly out of contention in his quest to win his 6th Masters when he came to the 12th tee at 3-under par. The 12th is a somewhat iconic par 3 and at 155 yards it isn’t particularly long for a tour player, but it tends to be a difficult hole to birdie.
Tiger proceeded to drop his tee shot into the creek in front of the green, took a drop, hit a short wedge shot into the water, took a drop, hit his wedge into an awkward lie in the back bunker, hit the sand shot over the green into the water, took a drop in the bunker, hit that onto the green and two putted for a 10. Yes, arguably the best golfer of all time took 10 shots to get home on a short par 3.
What on earth can we learn from such a terrible display of golf? I bet many of us could’ve made a 3 there with our discs! Let me show you what Tiger did on the final 6 holes, and remember that he was out of contention for the tournament (note that golf uses red numbers to signify “under par”):
So, after taking an embarrassing 10 on the 12th hole, Tiger went out and birdied five of his remaining six holes. And that is the lesson, you have to make birdies to erase the memory of a bad hole. Ok, that’s not the lesson at all.
What Tiger did was show us all how to respond and react to a few bad throws and a few unlucky results. You move on. Get mad, get angry, and get over it immediately. Erase the short term memory and just move along.
What he didn’t do was throw a tantrum, throw a club, pout, or point fingers. How many times does your disc get a bad bounce or you chain out a short putt, or you just don’t throw where you want and you respond by losing your composure or giving up on your round entirely? His level of self-control is something for us all to learn from. Not to mention he clearly used that negative energy to drive his amazing finish.
And I love the quote he gave in an interview while reflecting on his round:
This sport is awfully lonely sometimes. You have to fight it. No one is going to bring you off the mound [as in baseball] or call in a sub. You have to fight through it. That’s what makes this game so unique and so difficult mentally.Tiger Woods, post-round interview, 2020 Masters
Think about that. Disc golf, especially in tournament play, is just the same.
It is up to you how you respond to unlucky events, poor performance, and really anything else. But know this, the elite professionals dig deep and use the unfortunate event as fuel to become even better.