January 2021 Lady of the Month Emma Hanley

When did you first start playing disc golf?

I grew up in a disc golfing family, my dad started playing in 1975 (throwing at trees and garbage cans in a park in a very shady part of town on the south side of Birmingham, AL) and I was literally born on a disc golf course in Cherry Grove, OR. I started playing seriously in college in 1997, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I joined the PDGA and started competing in sanctioned events.

What are your 3 favorite courses in Oregon?

If you know anything about Oregon disc golf, then you’ve likely heard of Riverbend DGC at Milo McIver State Park, SO, I’m going to give my top three Milo not included, because it’s the default #1.  1. Old Oak Grove DGC at Champoeg State Park. 2. Pier Park in St. Johns 3. McCormick Park in St. Helen’s

If you could throw only anhyzers or hyzers for the rest of your disc golf career which would you choose?

Listen, I just throw straight, okay? Seriously, tho, I’m bad at both of those things, buuuuuut, if I had to pick, anhyzer, as long as it applies to both backhand and forehand because isn’t a forehand anhyzer similar to an anny backhand? I mean, they don’t call me Emma “doesn’t throw hyzer” Hanley for nothing (literally, no one calls me that, but I like to pretend that they do, one time one guy called me that like, 10 years ago).

What is your favorite advice to give to a new disc golfer?

Control before distance! But that’s probably because I don’t throw very far. Also, breathe OUT when you release, putts, drives, upshots, whatever, exhale on your release.

Upshots, putting or driving? Which of these are you most skilled in?

Upshots 💯 I truly don’t have a ton of distance off the tee, I just recently added 15-25 feet onto my drives, and that’s got me capping out at 240-250’ maybe 260’ if its crazy good, but I will generally park any upshot within 10 feet. Well, at least I did when I was in top golf shape. And that’s still the golfer I identify with.

Would more cats on disc golf courses enhance the ambiance of the course?

Listen, you know me and cats. So I want to say yes! But, during the pandemic I’ve become quite the birder, I even have started a lifelong bird list in my Roger Tory Peterson “A Field Guide to Western Birds” book, so I have to acknowledge that cats would really devastate the native bird populations. Who even am I?

If you could have a tee-off song what song would that be?

I’ve actually gotten to play an event where this was a thing (the now-defunct, but still one of the best events ever, Showdown in Shelton) and I chose Family Affair, by Mary J. Bilge one year and And She Was by the Talking Heads the next year. Today, no question, it would be 24 Kt by Bruno Mars #hashtagblessed

What is your favorite snack for the disc golf course?

Cheese, crackers and salamis, and bonus bacon, OBVIOUSLY. But I go all out. Earlier this year I was regularly making bagel sandwiches with cream cheese, fig jam, bacon, and capers. Apple slices. Hi-Chews. CheezIts. I take my snacks very seriously.

If you could have an official beverage of disc golf what would it be?

These are like, the really hard-hitting questions. As a professional mixologist, barista, and craft beer super snob, I’m definitely gonna have to go with WATER. HA! Didn’t see that one coming, didya?

You have recently teamed up with a few prominent disc golf women to start the #respectHERgame movement. People who follow women’s disc golf understand the need for this increased awareness and respect of women disc golfers. What does the #respectHERgame Movement mean to you?

I’ve never felt more at home, more joy, than when I’m on a golf course. My dad wrote me a song called “Golf in the Kingdom” and it’s also a book, about ball golf, but it applies to why we play and the spiritual journey that is a round of golf.

Disc golf is accessible in ways that traditional golf isn’t. Anyone, at any level, can play it and be successful. I want every person in this world to feel at home, the way I do, on a golf course. And unfortunately, women and girls are often looked over and disregarded in sports.

There is work to be done at so many levels, and some of them are really sad and scary and related to women actually being assaulted on disc golf courses. And some are super simple and basic, like welcoming a female player at your local league night as you would any other new player, or not automatically giving advice to a woman because maybe she’s been playing longer and has advice for you, to tournament infrastructure offering bathrooms and women’s appropriate player’s packs, to promoting women in the media based on their athleticism and skills NOT their appearance.

Disc golf is actually well ahead of many sports in showing respect for their women athletes and that’s a very positive and important thing to focus on and highlight and continue to promote. But the reality is, 10 years ago when I was a member of the newly reborn PDGA Women’s Committee, we were at 7% of the total PDGA membership, and I’m pretty sure that that hasn’t actually changed. There’s a reason for that, and I don’t think it’s out of line to suggest it is because women don’t always feel welcome nor supported. If someone says something makes them uncomfortable, listen to them and believe them. Be kind. Be polite. Give women space and a place in your disc golf community.

Learn more about the #respectHERgame movement on the RHG website.

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