Disc Golf - A Dangerous Sport?

You may be surprised by this article’s title. Disc golf and danger don’t go together. Danger from injury is football or rock climbing or street basketball, not a game played by fat old hippies carrying a disc in one hand and a cooler in the other. Believe me, though, one slip is all it takes.

This spring we all had a great time asking DiscFly founder Russ Miller to tell us again how he nearly broke his wrist. A backhand thrower, Russ was cross stepping on his drive when somehow one foot got mixed up with the other. Maybe a shoestring was loose or there was an unseen pebble on the tee box. Perhaps that day he was just clumsy or had too much beer. Whatever the cause, he went down hard. Unfortunately, he chose to break the fall with his wrist. The worst part was telling the story over and over as friends, clients and colleagues would ask, "How did you sprain your wrist playing disc golf?"

I was one of the incredulous laughers, right up until my day came. Late in May, rain showers had hit the local course overnight, so the concrete tee pads were a bit wet. When we reached the thirteenth I had the honors. I remember creating a bad mental image: "A person could slip on this tee box. It’s really wet." Not that I changed my drive to something safe, taking a little off the throw. Playing against three buddies, it was all out, every hole.

And ten seconds later that’s exactly what I was—all out of the game. I sidearmed that drive. At the end of the throw, as all my weight shifted to my left foot it slipped completely out from under me. I was momentarily airborne, staring at the limbs of the tree above the tee. Then the landing, now on my right foot, which somehow planted with my body at what seemed a ninety-degree angle to my ankle. Then the agony, the popping of ligaments, the desperate, twisting ballet of pain as I tried to finish the fall without breaking bones.

Silence as I hold my breath, clutching my foot, rocking on the ground and staring up at three concerned faces. After my friends help me hobble to a bench I ask the most important question: "How was the throw?"

Then they explode with a babble of laughter and responses.

"The throw was great but what was that crazy twisting thing you did as you were falling?"

From a new golfer: "Just as you started to go down I noticed you hold the disc with just two fingers and your thumb—like this, right?"

"There’s no way you keep your lead now."

Oh, the love for the injured.

After I get home with what looks like an orange for an ankle my wife asks when I did it.

"The thirteenth tee."

"Did they help you back to the car?"

"No. I just limped my way through and finished the round."

For some reason, she does not react with approval to this manly gesture.

Two months later I am at 80%. I’m back at disc golf, but in a slump. I go to the discgolfreview.com site and look at the photos of pros throwing. Do they ever fall down and pull muscles, sprain ligaments, rip tendons? It looks like they should. Russ laughs now and asks me to tell him again how I sprained my ankle.

Of course, disc golf isn’t as bad as Ultimate. It’s also called Frisbee football for good reason. One friend recently came home with a split and bleeding lip after a game that went past nightfall. He turned around and was smacked right in the face by a firm liner. I won’t name any more names, but at least all the attention is on his story now. And somehow, despite my sympathies, I find myself laughing.

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