February 2021 Lady of the Month Samantha Yanssens

When did you first discover and start playing disc golf?

I started casually playing in high school with friends and once I learned how to throw, I was hooked!  Joined the PDGA in 2013, fell in love with playing tournaments, met an amazing group of friends, and here we are almost a decade later!

What are your top 3 courses in Michigan?

Flip City

A beautiful course in Michigan with lots of elevation changes.    I have so many great memories there. I know if I’m going to play there I am going to have a great time.

Stony Creek Metropark

My home course, where I first started playing disc golf.  Long open holes that get rough off the fairway.  Most of the holes require execution of a long drive, upshot, and putt to get your par.

Addison Oaks

I love the technical wooded tunnel shots this course has.  Added with a nice mix of open holes, long and short.  It has a little bit of everything and is very challenging.

Michigan has a strong women’s disc golf scene. What is your favorite Michigan women’s disc golf event to play?

I’d have to say Disc Girls Gone Wild holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first women’s tournament I ever attended.  I met a ton of great ladies there, and always had such a blast!  It was also the first tournament I got to see touring FPO players at, and it was very inspiring as an amatuer player.

Do you throw forehand, backhand, or both?

 I started out forehand, and slowly developed my backhand.  I can comfortably throw both now, but am starting to prefer backhand shots because they feel less strenuous on my body.

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

I would say hyzers, they are most reliable for me.

What advice would you give to a new disc golfer?

Learn how to throw midranges and understable discs before fast drivers.  And just remember to have fun!

What is your go-to disc for wooded tunnel shots?

I love my Latitude 64 Gobi.  It has a ton of glide to it, and holds whatever line I put it on.

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

I have to go with coffee 🙂 Definitely need a cup to get me going before the round, and it’s great to have on a cold morning to keep you warmed up.

Putting, driving, or approaching which of these three would you say is your strongest disc golf skill?

 I’d say driving has always been one of my stronger skills.

You own and create Mitten Bags! They are mitten-shaped (after your home state of Michigan) and designed to keep your hands dry. Have you always been good at sewing and creating? Do you have any advice for someone who is a creator and wants to start a disc golf-related business?

My Grandma first taught me how to use a sewing machine when I was 4 years old, and I have been sewing ever since then!  I taught myself how to make clothes in high school, and have worked various sewing jobs throughout my life.  It has always been my biggest passion!  I launched Mitten Bags in July of 2017.  It took months of testing prototypes, different shapes, and materials until we found the mitten shape felt most comfortable in your hand.  I am very grateful to have grown to be where we are today. 

My advice to anyone looking to start their own disc golf related business is not to give up on your passion, and follow your dreams.  You can do whatever you put your mind to!

 

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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10 Reasons You Must Play Disc Golf this Winter

Disc golf is a year-round activity for me. Some call me peculiar for playing disc golf in winter and enjoying it! I get this strange sense of wonder and nostalgia when I think about winter disc golf. Of course, I also forget some of the downfalls of disc golf in the winter. However, they don’t outweigh my love for being outside all year round.

As we approach winter I know there are some disc golfers who will hang up their bags until spring. For those disc golfers, I urge you to reconsider. If you are unsure if you are going to play all winter, I hope to persuade you to stay out in the cold!

10 Reasons to Play Disc Golf in Winter

I am going to assume (I know I shouldn’t) that the reason you don’t play in winter is that you hate cold weather. As a person who has lived in Wisconsin her whole life, I am familiar with people who “hate” winter. They loathe it and despise it. I kind of understand. I too have my limits when it comes to cold weather. If it is below 15 degrees that is my threshold. However, any temperature above that is fair game to me.

How do I deal with the cold weather? How do I not become bitter about the cold winter? Well, for one thing, I have a natural advantage that I am built for it. I have extra padding everywhere, lots of hair on my head, a warm rosy face. Plus, my husband says I have warm healing hands.

Perhaps you aren’t built for the cold. How will you deal with the cold? Physically? Bundle up! Wear many layers and a good hat. If you can invest in a great pair of boots do so. Mentally prepare yourself by acknowledging it may be cold, you may be uncomfortable. But once you start moving around you will warm up. As long as you are dressed for the weather, you will most likely find yourself not only be warm enough but possibly too warm.

1.) Enjoying the tough weather makes the good weather that much better

Another mind trick you can play is to acknowledge that being in the cold, and possibly snowy conditions will make the warm days of spring and summer that much better. If you don’t want to think that long term, think about that warm bowl of soup or a hot cup of coffee after your round of disc golf. As a person who enjoys the comforts of life, I recognize the importance of discomfort and challenges to appreciate the comforts. To me, life is all about balance. Create balance by enjoying the cold to make the warmer weather that much better.

2.) Big Skips

If you have ever disc golfed near or on a hard surface, you may have gotten a big skip at the end of your throw. The concrete and dry ground can create these skips. However, they pail in comparison to the giant skips that can be produced in winter from ice, hard-packed snow, or the frozen ground. Big skips are fun to watch and say to your card mates “OOOOO Big Skip!!” However, they can also be useful in adding extra distance to your throw—don’t we always all want to throw further?!

3.) Learn the Wind

Late fall, winter, and early spring disc golf tend to be windier than late spring through late summer. There are certain discs that are mainly used in my lineup during the cold weather times of the year due to the amount of wind. I have learned more about which discs work in certain winds in winter than I have any other time of the year! To be the best player you can be you need to know how to play in all different conditions, including wind.

4.) Play in a Snow Globe

Several years ago at a DOLLS travel winter travel league, we had the pleasure of playing in a snow storm! It was gentle snow and a mild 30 something degree day. The tree branches slowly began to get covered by fluffy powdery snow, do did the disc golf baskets. It was whimsical and magical!

 

My first round of winter disc golf in 2009

Several years before that travel league my husband and I played out the first round of snowy disc golf. It was December of 2009 and we experienced a substantial snowfall. At the time we didn’t know that we could play in winter. We went out unprepared in jeans and jackets–but had a blast! Since then we never looked back on playing disc golf in the middle of a snowstorm.

 

5.) Bundle Up with Cool Winter Disc Golf Gear

 

Cute beanies, vests, fleece, hoodies, and neckwear are some of the gear you may find yourself wearing on the course. Every day has different weather which may require a slight change of gear. Meaning you can represent your favorite disc golf companies with different gear on a daily basis!

Here are a few things I almost always wear or have with me while playing disc golf in winter:

Beanie Hat

You will want several are some are better for super cold compared to others. Some block wind better, so it is best to have multiple winter hat options. I prefer a beanie, but if it gets really cold a trapper hat will certainly keep your head warm.

Vest

I have tried to play disc golf in a jacket and always felt restricted. Therefore, I have found a vest helps keep my core warm but my arms feel free.

High-Quality Boots

My favorite boots for winter disc golf are my Keen boots I got a few seasons ago. They were definitely an investment as high-quality winter boots typically cost between $85 and $200. However, the many winter rounds of disc golf I have played in them made the initial investment worth it! Keeping your feet warm and dry is critical to enjoying winter. Put them on your holiday wish list, or start saving for a great pair of winter boots- you won’t regret it.

Warm Base Layers

Whether it is several pairs of low-cost leggings or a great thermal turtle neck–keeping your body warm starts at level one. It is similar to having a strong foundation for a house. Everything else works better if you start from the basics with solid base layers.

Handwarmers

I know I said I am built for the cold and I have warm healing hands. However, my hands do go numb in 40 degrees or lower temps. It is only temporary, and once I am moving I regain feeling. To prevent my hands from getting cold and numb I always carry hand warmers, like Hot Hands in my pockets.

Face Covering

I have got used to covering my face in winter. Whether it is for a trip to the dog park or for a trip to the disc golf course, protecting my face from the cold and wind helps keep me outside longer. Face coverings such as a fleece bandana can also help to keep the wind from going down your top layers, which help your overall body temperature stay warm.

 

6.) Work on Your Disc Seeking Skills

Losing a disc is usually not fun. In tall prairie grass in the summer discs can go missing. In the fall when the leaves start to drop discs can get rather sneaky under the leaves. In winter when there is snow on the ground searching for your discs takes special skills.

Some players put ribbons on their discs to help them find discs in the snow. I personally don’t do this as it adds drag to my disc and one more thing for me to worry about. However, if this is helpful to you, keep on keepin’ on!

The more you play in winter the better you get at searching for discs. First, you learn to pay attention to your drive and your card mates throw as well. Second, your eyes adjust and get really good at looking for slits, and traces of discs in the snow. Third, you learn to not trample the entire fairway of snow prematurely. You learn that it is best to decide on a general area and look for the slits, and traces in the snow before start your search party.

7.) Vitamin D

I am not a doctor. I have no medical experience. However, I am aware of the positive impact of vitamin D for your immune system health. If you spend your entire winter indoors you may develop a vitamin D deficiency. However, if you get out and enjoy a round of disc golf on a sunny day, your skin will absorb vitamin D and help to maintain healthy levels. Which in turn means your immune system will be stronger.

8.) No mosquitoes or poison ivy

If you live in a climate that experiences freezing temperatures you most likely do not have to worry about mosquitoes, poison ivy etc.

9.) Excellent work out for thighs and core

Trudging through snow is a great way to work out your thigh muscles as well as your core. If it snows and you are the first person to the course, it is only proper to shovel the tee pads while you play. Shoveling snow may feel like backbreaking work–but if you do it right it is simply a good workout for your back and core.

10.) Stay in Touch with Disc Golf Friends

Think about this: You played your last round of disc golf in October, if you don’t play all winter you won’t see your disc golf friends until March or April at the earliest. That is a sad thought! Friends are there for you and help keep you balanced. Even if you can only see them once every few weeks in winter, it is better than not seeing them until Spring.

If you do go play in a snowstorm with your friends you will create a lifelong memory of the round! I recall almost every snowstorm round I played with friends–but not every fair-weather round. Create memories even in adverse conditions!

 

Play Disc Golf in Winter for Peace of Mind

It is undeniable that 2020 has been a challenging year in many ways. Indoor activities like concerts, movies, dining, and bar experiences are struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Outdoor activities like biking, hiking, gardening, walking, picnicking and disc golf are flourishing. Consumers have seen shortages of bikes, kayaks, canoes, and even discs. For the first time in 5 years in business, I have legitimately worried about running out of discs for my customers. I never would have thought that–ever. Luckily, I don’t think it is going to happen. I promise not to be like the infamous toilet paper hoarders of early 2020 and hoard all the discs!

The pandemic started early in the year, and some of us were closed off for the end of winter and early spring. Fortunately, many states and communities kept their courses open. I personally found the times, even if they were less than normal that I was able to play a round of disc golf helped to center me. Being out in nature always helps to relax me and keep my perspective positive, and moving forward. I hope that you can set aside your worry or dislike of cold weather this year and for all the years to come! Embrace the snow, and cold and find the beauty in it. I can almost guarantee it will help make your winter zoom right by!

 

For Tips on Playing Disc Golf in Winter check out this article from Erin Oakley.

May 2020 Lady of the Month: Tina Oakley

I met Tina Oakley on the side of a hill during a torrential downpour in Madison, WI at the Elver Disc Golf Course. The date was August 15, 2015, which also was the date that the Ladies First Disc Golf website opened for the first time. We were excited to meet each other since we were both small business owners and originally from Wisconsin. Tina was at the beginning of her life on tour in 2015 and has since expanded her disc golf adventures on the road with her husband Eric. She is the owner of Whale Sacs which are handmade whale-shaped sacs to keep your hands dry. Tina is a sponsored member of the following teams Dynamic Discs and Birdie Fuel Coffee. 

What was your disc golf turning point?

I was living in Portland, OR only for a short time when the 2014 Disc Golf World Championships came through. I was watching the FPO women play disc golf on my local courses while I was at work (at a bank, on my phone on Youtube) and desperately wanted to be doing the same thing- traveling and playing disc golf every day.  After some financial planning (and working extra hard) I figured out how to pay off my debt, buy an RV, and hit the road as an amateur disc golfer. This all happened because of Catrina Allen, Paige Pierce, Ragna Bygde & Ohn Scoggins, all of whom I’ve now played with or call a friend. Looking back, 2014 Tina was soooo excited to be able to watch those women play amazing golf, I don’t know if my life path would have been the same without Portland Worlds.

 

What is the best thing about being on tour as a professional disc golfer in your RV?Tina and Eric Oakley

I’d probably have to say the adventures and natural beauties that are experienced because of traveling and that generally also includes adventures with my friends. I LOVE disc golf of course and being able to play in every state or other countries is amazing, but my favorite thing about being at those new courses is usually the scenery, the adventure leading up to those courses, and the beauty in between tournaments.

 

What is the worst thing about being on a tour as a professional disc golfer in your RV? 

 The worst thing is probably the lack of consistency. Routines are extremely hard to come by on tour. The tournament days are all different, where we stay every weekend is different so some things are available one week and not the next (laundry, showers, gyms, friends) so it’s hard to make a schedule. Plus part of the perk of our lives is we don’t HAVE a set schedule so I’m reluctant to make TOO much structure because then I’ll miss out on the fun spontaneous things too like a hike or waterfall trip or breakfast invite, etc. because of a made-up schedule. Maybe that sounds silly but some months just remembering to wash my face before bed (or being able to) is impossible.

Do you have any hobbies outside of disc golf?

So many, how much time do you have?  My grandparents and dad are extremely creative, do it yourself type people and I am no exception. I LOVE working with my hands and don’t really enjoy NOT doing anything. Even when I’m at the beach, I’m still picking shells and making castles, not just laying in the sand. I garden (now that we own a house) which is something Jenny and I get to talk about! I have been making epoxy minis and rings, I like board games, movies, sewing, creating furniture now that we have a house or remodeling and some Pinterest projects for decorating. A lot of you probably know I make videos for my YouTube and for Dynamic Discs as well. You name it, I either do it or want to do it.

If you could have anyone in the whole world as your doubles partner who would you choose? 

Erika Stinchcomb. She’s my favorite disc golf partner!

 You have traveled to many courses while on tour. What is a course you haven’t played yet that you would like to? 

Flip City in Michigan. It’s one I’d heard about back when I was still tracking all my courses played on dgcoursereview and still haven’t gotten to!

You’re a Wisconsin girl too! What is one thing you miss about Wisconsin? 

Other than spotted cow or my family?! Maybe the familiarity of a place that I spent so much time in? I miss knowing where roads lead without a GPS and knowing where certain stores, friends and favorite parks are. I do NOT miss the winters, the summer bugs seem to be about the same here in Florida, but I guess I could say I miss the first snowfall, that is a magical time…but only the first one. ;p

Were other animals considered when you started Whale Sacs? Or were Whales the number 1 choice from the get-go? 

Whales 100%. I did make one that accidentally looked like a rabbit but I wasn’t trying. 

 

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

Can I be boring and say water? I am a different person when I remember to stay hydrated. I play better, focus better, and more important my body feels better and performs better!

You jumped right into tour life shortly after playing disc golf competitively. Do you have any advice for people who are thinking of going on tour full or part-time? 

Just DO it. What I learned was there will always be excuses not to do something and always reasons not to but it’s the people that took a risk despite not being 100% comfortable. They are the ones living their dreams and doing big things. If touring is your dream, DO IT, even if that means just for a month as a test run or maybe even plan a year, whatever looks like, you can always go back to normal life if it doesn’t work out.

Follow and Support  Tina:

Whale Sacs Facebook

WhalePants Facebook

Instagram

WhalePants YouTube

www.whalesacs.com

Are you interested in being featured as Lady of the Month?

We would love to help tell your disc golf story! Whether you an experienced disc golfer with stories to tell or a new disc golfer bursting with excitement we would love to feature you! Fill out  Lady of the Month application here

February 2020 Lady of the Month: Alexsandra Chavez

When did you start playing disc golf?

I began playing disc golf 6 years ago. My partner took me on a hike through the Redwood National Forest in northern California. He brought along a bag of discs and threw them through the trees towards metal baskets. It took a couple of months before I threw my first disc. At first, I just tagged along because most of the courses were often on scenic hiking trails with amazing views! Once I began playing it was difficult to tag along without also playing. Hiking without throwing discs became super boring! I’ve been hooked ever since. Shoutout to my partner, Diego Alvarado, for introducing me to this awesome sport! 

Do you coordinate any women’s disc golf happenings? Leagues, tournaments or other things to promote women’s disc golf?

In 2018 I began Empowered Disc Golf, a sports media company focused on developing content to empower women to participate in disc golf. Participation does not always have to be competing. It can be utilizing your skills of photography, graphic design, event planning, crafting or the number of other skills I didn’t mention! 

Since then Empowered Disc golf has evolved into an amazing community of women empowering women, with the first Crew of Catalysts including; Kate Berger, Madison Tomaino, Nikki Nash, Caley Allen, and Alyssa Martinez.

For the 2020 season, we are focused on growing our sport by empowering women to host their first disc golf event. Whether it is a disc golf clinic, putting league, sanctioned or unsanctioned tournament. Resources to come!

I will also be hosting Throw Like A Girl – 2020 Women’s Global Event Presented by Empowered Disc Golf on the Big Island of Hawaii on May 9th! Information can be found on Discgolfscene.com or our website Empowereddiscgolf.com. We have a number of side activities planned for those traveling to the state for the first time! The Discation begins with an adventure through the Volcano National Park, then a Doubles tournament (So your partner agrees to come along!), Followed by Throw Like a Girl, Celebrated with a Snorkle BBQ & Dolphin Cruise, and finished off by with a relaxing evening on a beach in Hawaii. 

More information on optional side events to come! Any questions contact us at EmpoweredDiscGolf@gmail.com!

Backhand, Forehand or both?

Righty Backhand dominant, Lefty Backhand backup 

What is your biggest personal accomplishment in disc golf?

This is a tough question to answer! I have had so many amazing opportunities, it’s hard to choose! I have been able to collaborate with a number of inspiring women, produced footage of the 2018 Beaver State Fling, have worked to grow Empowered Disc Golf into a strong community, and assisted in building the new 6 hole Kona Disc Golf Course. I feel my biggest personal accomplishment in disc golf is yet to come. 

If you could only play with 3 discs for the rest of your disc golf life which 3 would you choose?

  1. Legacy Pinnacle Rival
  2. Latitude 64 Opto Ruby
  3. Westside Burst Harp

What are your top 3 courses?

Redwood Curtain DGC – Arcata, CA

Waterloo DGC – Waterloo, OR

Gargoyles Garden – Mountain View, HI

What is the best part of playing disc golf in Hawaii?

Summer disc golf year-round!  

 

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

Water.

Do you have any specific goals for your 2020 Throw Like a Girl WGE in Hawaii?

For the women who attend the tournament to have fun and unforgettable memories! It will be the first Women’s Global Event I host. And also the first women’s only tournament so overall my goals are to ensure we all have a good time regardless of how many of us attend!

How can people learn more about Empowered Disc Golf?

Follow us on social media @EmpoweredDiscGolf! Find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube! Keep an eye on our website www.EmpoweredDiscGolf.com! Also, you can contact us at EmpoweredDiscGolf@gmail.com for collaboration opportunities or with any questions! 

January 2020 Lady of the Month Tracey Lopez

When did you first start playing disc golf? How did you get interested in the sport?

I first played disc golf back in Colorado in the mid-90’s when a friend took several of us out and just let us borrow his discs. I played in Keen sandals with a disc in one hand and a Fat Tire in the other. It was just a fun day out in the sun.

I didn’t get my own disc and start playing regularly until 2000 when the Park & Rec Dept I worked for put in an 11-hole course. I thought since I was a Rec/Wellness Coordinator I should get to know the sport so I could be a resource to the community about the new amenity.

Being a former Jr High/HS athlete, I was instantly addicted to figuring out the technique and the challenge of getting that silly frisbee in the basket. That addiction and love of the sport led to running junior leagues, youth & adult clinics, course work & design, and planning & coordination of the 2009 USWDGC in the Quad Cities. During that time I played competitively and won USWDGC in the Intermediate division and tied for 2nd in Advanced another year, turned pro, loved disc golf, hated disc golf, loved it again, and the best part is I met some amazing women who are now life long friends. I heart disc golf!

If you could only play with 3 discs for the rest of your disc golf career, which 3 would they be?

Jade, Buzz, and Envy. I can shape each of those discs to do what I want, and have a lot of trust in those.

If you could have anyone in the world as your doubles partner, who would you choose?

My first choice would be my Bestie and doubles partner of 18 years, Kathy Betcher (Team Red Hot, Team Hot Stuff forever!).

My 2nd choice would be my “adopted daughter”, Vanessa Van Dyken because she is a badass disc golfer and an amazing human being.

What is the best way to get more women playing disc golf?

Oh my gosh, if I had the perfect answer we would be way more than 8% of the sport. Mind you, 20 years ago we were 7% of the sport.  Even though we have a lot more women playing in general, overall we are still just a small part.

 

I think over the past decade we have really seen an increase in women due to so many women’s leagues, women’s only tournaments, mixed doubles events, and the Women’s Global. In all honesty, I think the 2020’s might need to be the decade of “retainage”. Or what we can do to KEEP all these women discers in the sport. Maybe we need to ask that question now and start moving in that direction. This will be my 20th year in the sport, and there are so many people I know who are not playing anymore. Let’s find out how to keep them.

You have traveled throughout the US to play disc golf. What courses are you most eager to go back and play?

My favorite course to play and return to every other year is the temp course at Purple Park in Superior, Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Women’s Championships. It is a stunning park and the layout is challenging yet enjoyable with birdie opportunities.

What is your best tip for someone playing in their first tournament?

You’re going to be nervous; try to relax, don’t set too many expectations, have fun, and ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have questions on rules/procedures. We were all a newbie at one point, and 99% of players will be kind and helpful.

Do you attend any women-only disc golf events? If so, what are your favorite women’s only events to attend?

I love to play women’s only events! They are like music festival environments, and the course layouts are friendly & fun. My favs are the Wisco Disco in Wisconsin, Diva Spring Feeva in Kansas City, and the Rocky Mtn Women’s Championships in Colorado.

Do you have any dream or destination courses/countries you would like to play disc golf in the future?

I would love to play in Finland, especially The Beast. I am hoping to hit the WGE in Hawaii or the USWDGC in California this year.  So one of those will be crossed off the list.

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

It would have to be a beer from Bevel Craft Brewing, like Iron Leaf DIPA (thank you Gregg Barsby for sharing) or their First Run IPA.

You have been playing disc golf for 20 years! Your cool, calm and kind demeanor on and off the course makes you a great card mate and competitor.  What are your keys to longevity in being active in participating in disc golf? Any tips for people who are looking for lost motivation to continue playing and/or competing?

I believe everyone joins and plays the sport for different reasons. And I can’t tell you how many times I threatened to quit the sport. But here is what I remember: I play because I crave the competitive juices from my youth; I play to be outdoors in nature all day; I play for the social aspect with so many amazing friends; I play because ultimately we are all a part of the heart of disc golf–the LOVE. When you are feeling like you want to quit, you have had enough of the sport, just go back and remember what you love about disc golf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2019 Lady of the Month: Erikah Weir 

Erika Weir PDGA #68633 is a newly turned professional disc golfer. In July of 2019, Erikah competed and won Amateur Worlds in the Advanced Women division. Erikah lives in Denver, CO and is a member of the Innova Disc Golf Ambassador Team. She joined the PDGA in 2014 and has worked her way up through the amateur rankings. 2020 will be Erikah’s first year competing in the professional division in all events.

When were you introduced to disc golf? Who introduced you to disc golf?

I was an Ultimate Frisbee player for 7 years before finding disc golf. Unfortunately, my body was breaking down after running all of the miles from Ultimate and playing lacrosse in college. But, my good friend Jen Underwood was kind enough to introduce me to disc golf in 2013 as a way to keep throwing and enjoy a beer or two on the course. Soon, it became an addiction for me and Jen has never forgiven herself 🙂

For drives do you primarily throw backhand, forehand or a combination of both?

 

I throw a combination of both. For any tunnels or tight fairways, I generally throw forehand. For power shots that have little danger (OB or bunkers), I generally throw backhand.

What is your philosophy on putting?

My putting has always been a work in progress. Currently, I do my best to get my drives and upshots to land as close to the basket as possible so putting tends to be less stressful. But, for the offseason, I hope to increase my “comfort range” inside the circle. From the few Professional tournaments I have played this year, I think that’s the biggest difference I have seen from moving up from the Amateur ranks. We have a few putting leagues in Colorado that I hope to attend and I will work with Perfect Putt 360 on my own to track my progress.

Photo credit: PDGA Flickr

Do you have any relation to Bob (Weir)?

Depends on which Bob Weir you are referring to 🙂 I have an Uncle Bob Weir but he is not the guitarist from the Grateful Dead.

Do you attend a women’s disc golf league? If so, what is your favorite part about participating in a women’s disc golf league?

In Boulder, we have a weekly women’s tag match run by the fabulous Ali Dorato. She has had great success with getting about 5-10 women each week for a round of 18; during the high season, even more! My favorite part is getting to know the women that keep coming back and watching various parts of their game improve. Whether it’s using a new disc, adding distance to drives or sinking a long putt, the energy is fantastic!

If you could only play disc golf with 3 discs, which 3 discs would you choose?

Driver: older Pro Thunderbird, Mid: Star Aviar X3 (my FAVORITE disc!) and Putter: XT Whale.

You traveled a bit in 2019 for various disc golf events. What state that you traveled to in 2019 did you enjoy the most? Any favorite courses you can’t wait to get back to?

So far, in 2019, we have been to Nevada, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Arizona. I am originally from Pennsylvania, so it was great to get back to my home state and see some East Coast courses. I think that Iron Hill DGC in Delaware was the hardest course I played all year and I would like to get another crack at it in 2020!

Are there any disc golf courses you haven’t played yet that you dream of playing?

Absolutely! The majority of my disc golf career has been based in Colorado so there are MANY courses out there I want to play! Like anyone, Smuggler’s Notch, Maple Hill and Milo McIver are all on my list. I just got to play Fountain Hills in Phoenix, AZ and standing on the first MPO teepad was so much more intimidating that I had expected it to be!

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

I love the Tropical Punch flavor of Body Armor. I drink a TON of it while I am playing!

You are the 2019 Amateur World Champion in the FA1 division, congratulations!

The competition was fierce and talented women disc golfers are a growing force, you are part of that force. Did you have a goal before the competition started? Do you have any advice for women who aspire to be world champion disc golfers on how to achieve their goals?

Thank you so much! Before the competition, my goal was to shoot above my rating and end my Amateur career on the highest note possible. I really wanted to make it to the Final 9 and luckily, I was able to make that happen.

Photo Credit: PDGA Flickr

 

As far as advice: less discs = less risks! Get to know discs that will work well for your game and keep the selection small. Gaining confidence in your bag will equate to confidence on the tee pad and in the putting circle. Hard work really does work! In addition, I encourage women disc golfers to support one another and celebrate the small victories! Operating from a place of abundance instead of scarcity has been a rule of thumb for me in 2019. At Worlds, it was so inspiring to play with very talented women during each round. We were all vying for one coveted title but the camaraderie on our cards was very positive and encouraging! I was blown away by the talent and can’t wait to see where the Women’s game goes from here!

A note from Erikah

Thank you Jenny for this opportunity! I really love Ladies First Disc Golf and love wearing my apparel out on the course. Definitely want to thank my sponsors Innova Champion Discs and Gatekeeper Media! Innova has provided amazing plastic and wonderful support and Gatekeeper produced my “In the Bag” video this summer. I really look forward to continuing our partnerships in the 2020 season! A big thank you to my Mile High Disc Golf family, in Denver and Boulder, for all of their support as well. Wherever I am playing, I can truly feel the Colorado Love. And, last but certainly not least: one final thank you to Michael Oswald-my caddy for DG and life! You are the best!

 

5 Reasons Women with PCOS Should Play Disc Golf

PCOS Awareness

September is Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness (PCOS) awareness month. According to the PCOS Awareness Association PCOS affects over 10 million women in the world. I am one of the 10 million women affected by PCOS. Disc golf and the symptoms of PCOS became present in my life around the same time. They are both important to me, which is why I think other women with PCOS can benefit from playing disc golf.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is an endocrine disorder that typically causes disturbances in a women’s menstrual cycle. Women with PCOS may go months without having their period. When it finally returns it usually  lasts eight or more weeks. PCOS is different for every woman; some affected may have a regular cycle, but may not ovulate. For couples trying to make a family, the lack of ovulation can make this difficult. Even if ovulation does occur if cycles are not regular conceiving can be difficult.

Weight gain is common in women with PCOS. The old chicken or egg question may arise when dealing with PCOS and weight gain. Did I have PCOS because I gained weight in my 20’s or after having my first baby? Alternatively, did I always have PCOS even at a healthy weight, but now PCOS symptoms are showing more and making weight loss a challenge? Both are common scenarios of women with PCOS experience.

The weight gain that occurs often increases the risk of diabetes in women with PCOS. Insulin resistance is prevalent in women with PCOS and can, therefore, lead to added weight, difficulties losing weight, and diabetes.

Other symptoms that relate to appearances such as increased acne and hirsutism are common in women with PCOS. Hirsutism is when hair appears in places it typically doesn’t on a woman such as the face, stomach, and lower back. The opposite of excess hair growth can also be a problem, which would be losing hair from your head and male pattern baldness.

In addition to physical changes mentioned above, women with PCOS are more prone to depression, anxiety, mood swings, and headaches. Often these invisible symptoms can be even worse than the physical symptoms as they are easy to mask and bottle inside.

All of the factors listed above: inability to get pregnant, weight gain, acne, facial hair, hair loss, and increased headaches can undoubtedly contribute to depression and anxiety. Women with PCOS should not let PCOS and it’s symptoms control or get them down.

If you are feeling down, want to get in better shape, and meet new friends continue reading to see why you should play disc golf.

5 Reasons Women with PCOS Should Play Disc Golf

1.) Get Active Lose Weight

Disc golf is a low impact activity for people of any age. If you haven’t been too participating in any physical activity for a while disc golf is a walk in the park with a purpose. If you enjoy low impact exercise of walking but also like to play games, disc golf is the perfect activity. Disc golf could be the jump start to increased physical activity. Increased physical activity can lead to weight loss which can help control  your PCOS symptoms.

2.) Nature Can Help With Depression

I don’t know about you, but whenever green spaces surround me I feel better. Disc golf is played in public parks and on private properties. Disc golf courses are always in a green space, some wide open and some filled with trees, moss, and ferns. If you are feeling depressed, or anxious getting out in nature often helps to lift your spirits.

3.) Meet Friends

Let’s face it as an adult meeting new friends can be a challenge. Once your are graduate from school, the only people we may interact with are family and co-workers. Depending on where you work, you may not have many co-workers. Or you may prefer to keep your work life separate from your private life. Disc golf women come from all walks of life and are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met. There are women’s disc golf leagues and Facebook groups in nearly every state. Finding a group of ladies to learn disc golf from is an excellent start to your new hobby, and new support system of friends!

4.) Take Your Mind Off PCOS

Picking up a new hobby that you can do alone or with friends is a great way to remind yourself that PCOS does not define who you are. Don’t let your mind spiral into focusing solely on your PCOS symptoms and how they affect your life.

5.) Challenge Yourself

I firmly believe getting out in nature can help with the depression-related symptoms of PCOS. Challenging yourself can also help with this. If you feel like you aren’t “athletic” and are nervous about play disc golf forget that thought. Disc golf is so much more than throwing a disc at a basket. Yes, good form will help, but you can always work to improve your skills and form. When you learn the basics of disc golf, you have challenged yourself to learn something new, and that always feels good. Once you have learned the basics of throwing a disc and start to play more, you will use mental strength to attack the course! Challenging yourself, you against the course and improving is a great way to boost your self-esteem and feel in control.

Take Control of PCOS and Discover a New You

PCOS often can seem like it runs our lives. It is a silent syndrome that many people may not realize you have, which can make it even more challenging. Adding a fun hobby like disc golf to your life can help remind you that PCOS is only one part of who you are and does not define you as a person.

If you are a woman with PCOS and have never played disc golf, please reach out to me. I am happy to provide resources on how to play disc golf, equipment needed, and I can even help you find some new disc golf friends.

If you are a woman who already plays disc golf and doesn’t have PCOS I thank you for taking the time to read this article. Hopefully, you learned something new, and perhaps you know someone who has PCOS that this article will help!

 

Performance Anxiety in Disc Golf: R-E-L-A-X

Working through performance anxiety. It all started in the 4th grade at the spelling bee. It was round 1, they gave me an easy word I was capable of spelling. The word was “Growl”.

I step up to the microphone to dominate this easy word and move onto the next round.  But I don’t. My nerves and performance anxiety get the best of me. This is what comes out “G, O…” and a loud sigh. I knew as soon as I said the letter “o” that I had messed up. Also, that my spelling bee dreams were over.

What happened? Why did I mess up such as easy word?  I knew I could spell growl. It kept playing over and over in my head as I sat in the audience to watch the remainder of the spelling bee. This moment was the beginning of me acknowledging my performance anxiety. I still struggle with anxiety related to competition as an adult and know many competitors do as well.
howl growl

It seems that for the last year when I compete in disc golf tournaments I am consistently performing under my skill level. I know I still have a lot to learn, as this sport always provides learning opportunities.  Increased practice and playing the courses more before the tournament would help. However, my blunders on the course seem to be very much related to my mental game. It all seems to boil down to performance anxiety.

The thing is I don’t get angry. I try to brush off the bad shots. Take each shot as it is. For some reason my body doesn’t want to relax during a tournament.

I have found when I play in my Thursday night Disc On! Ladies League (DOLLs) that I generally more often than not, play very well. My drives set me up for at least 1-2 birdies per round. It is not uncommon for me to make a couple 30’+ putts. I rarely miss a 10′ or less putt. However, these moves are not the case during a tournament. I find I easily get into a routine of missing many 10′ or less putts during these rounds, to make my 3’s turn to 4’s and my 4′ turn to 5’s. The difference being at DOLLs leagues, there is a lot of giggling. We keep score we aren’t playing to compete against each other–it is more for the social and fun aspects of it. I suppose I am not overthinking these league rounds and performance anxiety does not become a factor.

As I have been noticing my inconsistent tournament performance vs. my casual rounds, I have been trying to pin point how I can translate this better play into tournament performance. In addition to more practice and familiarity with the courses. The main thing I need to do is what Aaron Rodgers, the best quarterback in the NFL said when fans were worried about the Greenbay Packers 2014 season, he had 5 letters “R-E-L-A-X!” The fans relaxed and the team went on to have a 12 and 4 season and win the NFC North division.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-gameday/0ap3000000401519/Rodgers-R-E-L-A-X-remix

I know when I make a great putt or throw a good drive my body mainly my upper shoulders and neck are relaxed. I just need to work on relaxing and staying focused. All while not taking the game too seriously and just remember that my body knows what to do.

What do you do to relax on the course? How have you worked through mental struggles that turn into inconsistencies?

August 2019 Ladies of the Month: Melody, Aria and Haley Castruita

Melody, Aria and Haley Castruita are a trio of sisters who disc golf from Spicewood, TX. Their father John Castruita PDGA #42756 has been a PDGA member since 2010 and has made disc golf a family affair!
All three sisters competed in the 2019 PDGA Junior Worlds in Emporia, KS and came away from the event with top finishes in the event.
Melody Castruita #50171 placed 1st in the Junior Girls 18 and under category and has past first place finishes in her local PDGA Women’s Global Event from 2014,2016 & 2018.
Aria Castruita #105126 placed 2nd in the highly competitive Junior Girls 15 and under at the 2019 PDGA Worlds and was also the 1st place winner of her local WGE for the Junior Girls 12 and under division.
The youngest of the siblings Haley Castruita #105127 placed 1st in the Junior Girls 12 and under division at the 2019 Junior World Championships. 2019 is Haley’s first year of competing with which she has earned 6 victories out of 9 events!
These young ladies are the future of the sport and recently all signed sponsorship deals with the Trilogy companies: Dynamic Discs, Latitude 64 & Westside Discs.

Who introduced you to disc golf?

Our dad introduced and taught us disc golf.

How long has each sister been playing?

Melody has been playing for nine years, Aria eight years, and Haley seven years.

What is each of your favorite drivers?

Melody’s favorite driver is the DD Lucid Air Captain. Aria’s is the Lat Ballista Pro. Haley’s is the Westside Stag

Do you play a lot on summer break? Do you play all year?

Yes, we play all year. We are home schooled and for gym, we play 18 holes on our property. The front nine are 20 to 30 ft. shots. The back nine are 75 to 150 ft. shots.

What is your biggest disc golf accomplishment?

Melody’s biggest accomplishment was winning the PDGA 2019 Disc Golf World Championships Junior Girls 18 & Under. Aria’s was winning the Women’s Global Event 2016 & 2018. Haley’s was winning the PDGA 2019 Disc Golf World Championships Junior Girls 12 & Under.

Do you have any role models from the disc golf community?

Yes, Stephanie Vincent has really supported us and the local disc golf community. She always encourages us to do our best and is very positive.

Do you have other hobbies or sports you play outside of disc golf?

We like to play mini disc golf and love to draw. Also, we play guitar and piano and sing. We play Christian songs and perform at retirement and rehabilitation centers.

Is there any sibling rivalry on the course?

We are competitive with each other but we support and encourage each other, too.

Does having your family on the course help to motivate or encourage you in any way?

Of course! Our mom and dad are great caddies and always encourage us. We always enjoy playing a round with them.

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

We all like eating trail mix.

Do you have any advice for young players who are just starting to play disc golf?

The main thing is to have fun and play as much as you can. Start off with a few discs and get familiar with those. The more you play, the better you’ll get. Find others that love to play disc golf and practice with them. If you can, play with disc golfers that are really good and learn from them.