For anyone who has ever felt that they lacked sufficient knowledge or skill to be a good disc golfer, there is some good news.
Watching a group of seasoned disc golfers can be rather intimidating. They seem so deep in thought before hurling their discs, as if they are visualizing and planning exactly where their disc will land. They look as if they have theories or rules that dictate the angle at which they throw. They seem to understand the wind and its power more than any human should.
It may make you question whether one needs to be a mathematician or memorize advanced physics formulas in order to play with such finesse.
For those of you who are not majoring in areas involving math or science, NW junior math major Aaron Appel offers some encouragement.
Appel began playing disc golf during his freshman year at NW. Upperclassmen and other friends from West were already big into the game, so Appel decided to try it out. He reports that he is a much better player now than during his freshman year, but sincerely doubts it has anything to do with the math classes he has taken while studying at NW.
“Math hasn’t affected how well I play,” said Appel. “I don’t decide, for example, the target is 231 feet away and then throw at a 33 degree angle.”
Appel believes that practice, rather than physics, is the key to becoming a good disc golfer.
“It definitely takes at least a month of consistently playing disc golf to get to a decent level,” said Appel. During the summer, Appel played almost every day, and believes this extra time really improved his game, even while on break from the math books.
As a player practices more, he or she will get better at judging how far or hard to throw the disc, as well as how to account for obstacles in the way or the wind, according to Appel.
Appel sees his love of the game as having both a positive and a negative effect on his math homework: “It does take time away from doing my homework, but at the same time, it gives me a break to refresh.”
Despite all the hours you might see Appel outside playing disc golf with friends, he estimates that he still spends about 66 percent more of his time doing math homework than throwing discs.
Appel does not believe his math skills are helping him out-skill his friends in disc golf, or other games for that matter.
“Besides poker, in which you can count cards and things like that, most games you play don’t generally involve a lot of math,” said Appel.
So if intimidation has prevented you from hurling a disc—give it a try. According to Appel, a man who knows, you can only get better with practice.