This week represents a big first for me in disc golf. I will be registering for my first tournament. It’s a non-PDGA event put on by my local club, though it is a Southern Nationals event. If you’re in the Tupelo, MS area, consider playing in the Tupelo Fall Classic tournament Oct 17-18 at Tombigbee State Park. Out of the five divisions available, I’ll be playing in the novice division. With less than two years of playing under my belt, I feel that this is the best place for me to start.

Tim over at Mind Body Disc posted recently about why you should play in your first tournament. He makes many valid and logical points about the reason tournaments are designed, ran, and played. The most important of those is to play with players you most likely don’t know and have never played a round with before. You may have some buddies that you meet up with regularly to have a fun, but casual round. In a tournament, not only are you measuring your skill against those of a similar skill level, you are meeting people that will challenge your abilities, unlike your buddies.

I occasionally take my kids out to the course to play, but it never is a full round and I deal with whiny, ill, impatient, and tired small people. My local course isn’t short, it isn’t easy, and it isn’t designed to be family friendly. All those things aside, it’s not a tough course either. There’s not much elevation change throughout the course, and the longest hole is less than seven hundred feet, with most no more than four hundred fifty feet. When I play by myself, I can get a round done in just under two hours. Random groups at my local course are rare due to the times I can usually get to it. No matter these issues with my recent play, I’ll be focusing on the tournament in the next month.

Preparing for that tournament leads to a few things for me.

  1. Narrowing down the discs in my bag.
    I use an Infinite Discs large bag w/ straps. It holds 18-22 discs, with a putter pocket that can hold 2 putters. I may downsize to my small bag, which is a NutSac Bag. It holds 6-8 discs, though I’ve had 10 in it when using more fairway/distance drivers and no mid-range discs. The course is short for the novice division, so carrying a ton of discs won’t be necessary.
  2. Putting practice
    My putter of choice is the Prodigy PA4. It fits my form very well, and holds the lines I put it on. I’ve worked on putting a lot in the last few months, with noticeable results. Inside the circle, putts are landing better than 75% of the time. My misses are usually the result of either early releases or my grip being too tight as I release, pulling it to the right. Working on a more consistent release will be my focus leading up to the tournament.
  3. Practice rounds on the tournament course
    The tournament I will be playing is located at Tombigbee State Park, which has two quality courses. The one the novice/junior division will be playing is a short, easy course designed for beginners, while the other course is a much more challenging one. Of the 25 state parks, 16 have disc golf courses, which are maintained, and only require the park entrance fee to play. Add to that, camping, fishing, and other activities, it makes for a great place to take the family for the weekend. I just have to get out there and play some rounds of disc golf.

If I focus on those three things, my rounds should go well. A great number of people don’t play tournaments. Don’t be intimidated by the competition if you’ve never played in one, but revel in the camaraderie between fellow lovers of disc golf. Find out about the next disc golf tournament in your area. The PDGA maintains a large list of tournaments and the information about them. If you can’t find one there, check with your local club, or search online for tournaments in your area.

Make the next tournament close to you be your first.

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