This photo comes from @lizardee on Instagram
This photo comes from @lizardee on Instagram

In Zen & The Art Of Disc Golf, I talked at great length about how your disc golf bag can be seen as a metaphor for all the baggage that you carry around with you from day to day and how if you do not place your bag on the ground (“dropping your baggage”) you severely decrease your accuracy and ability to achieve your goals.

Today, I would like to talk to you about what we place in our bags and how we hold onto discs and equipment that serve no other purpose than to “fill out our bags.” It’s very interesting to meet and talk to so many new players who begin playing disc golf and starting with the same habits. I believe a psychologist could make a reasonable study of disc golfers to extrapolate trends in human behavior. We often talk about how newer players tend to buy high speed drivers in hopes that the numbers on the disc alone will put our tee shots where we want them in the fairway with little attention paid to our throwing technique, but another habit that we have is being pack rats or maybe “bag rats” would be a better term.

It typically begins like this: A new player begins with 1-3 discs, in their minds, not enough to buy a huge bag and fill it out with unnecessary equipment. As a matter of fact, a newer player may look at other “big bag disc golfers” and scoff to themselves, seeing no point in carrying so many discs. Then this player tries out one or two of his friends discs and again mistakes a good throw for a good disc. Now, he heads to the store to buy those discs – and maybe 1 or 2 more while he is there, now he has 6 or 7 discs. He/she can’t carry that many discs comfortably on the course in their hands and heads back to shop for a new bag, and feels they may as well get a bag they can grow into, so they buy a 10-12 disc bag, and maybe 1 or 2 more discs. Now they own a 12 disc bag and 8 or 9 discs that are banging around in the bag when they walk on the course, so they need to fill it out with a few more discs. Before they know it they have bought enough discs to fill a bag instead of ones they actually plan to throw. They continue to throw just a few discs from the bag but continue to carry a plethora of extra weight. Extra weight is great for burning calories and looking cool but bears no correlation to how well you play. In fact by hole 18 you might be 20% more tired from bearing extra weight you never used during your game.

Now, there is nothing wrong with carrying a full bag of discs. There are two schools of thought when it comes to bag size. The first school is learn how to shot shape a few staple discs and the second is have a disc for every job and to know those discs. Neither is wrong, but speaking purely metaphorically how often do we carry unnecessary discs that don’t serve our game and are mainly souvenirs from the disc golf store? And similarly how often do we carry negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions around with us on a daily basis that don’t serve us in the game of life, and wear them as if they are badges of experience.

Every emotion that we have has evolved within the human experience to some extent as a way to aid us in recognizing imminent threat or bodily harm.Emotions generally remov the concept of rationality in attempt to simplify our mental processes, in other words if we had to constantly scan and rationalize every experience we have as being helpful or harmful it would be exhausting, so emotions take away some of that mental processing and put our bodies in states that allow us to survive without constantly scanning whether or not an experience is good or bad. Emotions take on some of the work and they help prior experiences stick in memory so if we have similar experience to one in past that was previously harmful we may begin to feel what we felt during that harmful experience without the brain having to work to rationalize that this is an entirely new experience.

For example, one major feeling or emotion that I want to touch on is worry, because worry is generally experienced in much longer periods than some other emotions and as a result loses much of its rationality because it doesn’t serve to protect us against some imminent harm. And isn’t it true that most of the things we worry deeply about never occur the way we worried they might?

Worry is negative visualization. It is praying for what you don’t want to happen.

So if you step up on the tee box and worry about hitting that tree you seem to always hit, you may just hit that tree. Especially if you announce to your group that you probably will hit that tree because now you have made a verbal plan to hit that tree.

If you refuse to play in that tournament you have been thinking about playing because you are worrying how you will feel when you hit that tree with everyone looking – the worry you feel in that moment is visualization of that happening, and because your brain can tell little difference between reality and your visualization of reality – the worry the you feel is just as bad as the embarrassment you think you might feel, and the worst part is you never even had to hit the tree in a real tournament to feel embarrassed. In other words the worry is worse than the embarrassment!

Some people wear their negative emotions and feelings as a badge, like a souvenir for their misgivings. In the case of worry, some people like to reframe their worry as caring. For example they worry about you and call it caring about you. But the worry only serves to only see bad outcomes for other people – now I ask you, is seeing only bad outcomes for other people really caring for them or is it discouraging them from reaching for their goals? Some people wear the badge of anger and carry it as a souvenir for their misgivings and bad experiences. They will qualify it as a means of self-protection, but really it only harms themselves by not letting the good that life has to offer in. It often keeps the good away – good feelings, good experiences, and good people. They may think its protection but really, to the outside world, it’s victimization – believing they have something to always be angry about makes the assumption that they will forever be a victim. Some people carry the badge of sadness, as a souvenir for their misgivings and bad experiences. These people have resolved to never be happy because the world is a cruel and awful place. What they really want if for someone to feel sorry for them. Asking another person to feel bad with you is one of the most selfish things you could ask for.

Once again, emotions have their place. They warn us of imminent danger or threat but once the danger or threat is removed, they are to be recovered from. Holding onto emotions past the point of recovery is similar to hanging onto discs that you don’t need to carry because they “fill out your bag.” Every once and a while, you should open up your disc golf bag and see what extra weight you are carrying remove it like you would weed a garden. Still can’t throw that Nuke, Viper, or Spirit? Why weigh yourself down with discs you don’t need? Create room in your bag for an extra Valkyrie, Stalker, or Lace. Do the same with your mind:

Where worry lives, there’s no room for contentment. Where anger lives, there’s no room for forgiveness. Where sadness lives, there’s no room for gratitude.

This is not to underestimate the tragedies that we find ourselves in from day to day. As I mentioned above, emotions help us deal with negative situations that are often times not preventable, however humans were not designed to live with long term sustained negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. When we sustain these feelings it actually does physical harm to our bodies, makes us ill, and as I mentioned above keeps the good stuff away. Disc golf has helped lead thousands of people through bad times as a way to reflect and find focus in a world where sometimes coping takes all the energy you can muster, but for many this may not be enough. We all need help from time to time being the best possible versions of ourselves and we need mentors and coaches we can return to help us progress. For some people that might be friends or family and for others, doctors and counselors. The first step is recognizing that you are carrying a badge or souvenir from long ago and that life would be much better if you were somehow able to just let go.

Just because you were handed a bunch of negativity many moons ago doesn’t mean your still required to carry it everywhere you go.

And that’s another tool for your Disc Golf bag.

Patrick McCormick

This blog originally appeared in ZDGP EP26.


Image by @holydiscgolfclub on instagram.
Image by @holydiscgolfclub on instagram.

I was playing a doubles round at Newport News Disc Golf Course the other day with some friends of mine when I suddenly I had a new revelation.

Most of  this group are players I have recently introduced to the game and even though they had played the course several times from the short tees, they had never played from the long tees. We decided to try the long tees for some added variation and also decided that doubles would be a good starting point for playing a slightly longer course.

We paired up stronger players with weaker players to ensure some balance in the game and everyone was playing extremely well. I fully believe that switching up the tees, baskets, or even the course is a great way to step outside of the box and really see what you can do. For some reason, forcing yourself outside of routine seems to help you break out of complacency and help to influence the mindfulness and focus that disc golfers need to play well.

When we stepped onto the long tee on hole 8, everyone looked stumped. For the first time they encountered a tee box with no real clear line to the basket, just jail bars of trees and limbs. I watched as their confidence broke and my friends resigned themselves to double bogeys on the hole before ever driving off the tee. Then I stepped up to the box and launched a right hand back hand throw. The disc threaded through the trees and made a line closing in on the basket when all the sudden it hit a tree and ricocheted hard left into what appeared to be the thickest part of the woods and almost ended up on another hole. Everyone immediately laughed with me as they imagined how bad my current lie must had become after the ricochet.

My partner got ready to step up to the tee box and asked me “What should I do? Should I play it safe and just try to thread it though and get it in the open?” I replied telling him that sounded like a good idea. He step up on the box and gave a nice soft toss and landed the disc in the open about 75 feet ahead. The shot was not far but it was safe. Everyone congratulated him on the throw and the group began to push forward. “I guess we will be using my shot!” he said, believing he was stating the obvious. I answered him “Maybe. Let’s see.” He laughed believing I must be joking. We both walked up to his disc and noticed that while he was in the open, we still had about 125 feet to travel and that there were trees surrounding the basket that might pose a problem. He got ready to put his mini down when I said “Wait a minute, lets see if mine is any better.” He said “You must be joking!” looking at me like I had horns coming out of the sides of  my head. “Just hold on!” I replied laughing and headed toward my disc which had cut hard left and laid in what appeared to be the thickest part of the woods.

When I got to my disc, much to my surprise, I realized that my lie was not bad at all. As a matter of fact I had a clear 30 or so foot shot at the basket. What I thought was my worst drive ever on this hole turned out the probably be one of the best. I yelled back “Let’s go with mine.” Again, my partner swore I had to be joking with him. He headed my way leaving his bag and disc behind, swearing his disc had to have the better line. When he got to my disc, he looked at the clearing to the basket and simply said “Whoa. Great shot!” He returned to his  bag, picked it up and headed back to my disc in the woods. Together we birdied the hole.

The moral of the story is you can’t always judge a shot from the tee box. You must see the shot from your disc’s perspective before you can make any judgements about your lie.

After throwing my disc from the tee, and watching its beautiful flight being knocked off it’s line, I could have gotten mad, kicked my bag, and cursed at the tree for disrupting my flight, but I didn’t. I have seen many times in this game what appears to be a bad shot from the box might just become one of the best shots you’ve ever made because winning isn’t always about relying on your perspective on the tee. It is about taking each shot as it goes and seeing each shot from the discs perspective.

In life we believe we make judgements solely based on our 5 senses: touch, taste, smell, hear, and see. In fact, our actual judgements using our sense input are then run through a filter of our experience and what we have learned in the past:

Beginning with my senses:
I watched my disc having a beautiful flight.
I saw it hit a tree.

Filtering through my past experiences:
In the past hitting trees has been bad for my game

Final judgement:
This shot went bad. I probably have a bad lie.

While our senses are the only way we can receive information, our final judgements may not necessarily reflect the actual situations in our lives. With our eyes we may not see clearly. With our ears we may not hear acutely. My hands are cold I may not be able to feel something perfectly. Our senses are never perfect, yet they form the basis of our understanding of the world. Then they get even more messed up as we filter them through experiences that have nothing to do with our current situation. This leads to so many misunderstandings in our lives and when we must make a judgement or decision based on this, it may be clouded and downright irrational.

So what is the solution?

One word: understanding.

Understanding means knowing that you don’t always have perfect information. That none of us are perfect in general. That just because you see something is wrong, doesn’t mean another person does. Understanding means coming to terms with our own imperfections and imperfections of those around us by stepping off of our personal tee pads and into the perspective of the disc or another person. And it means compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and others.

Don’t be so hard on yourself when things aren’t seeming to go your way. When you lock yourself in your own perspective, you may not see how great you are doing, how far you have come, and how close you are to achieving what you want.


This blog originally appeared in ZDGP EP25.

DISCS & ZEN – Release And Move Forward

Image from @zmansnada on IG

In Zen & The Art Of Disc Golf, I coined a simple phrase that we also end every podcast with which is “Most Importantly, Just Throw,” but I have never really delved into attempting to describe what I mean when I say this, mostly because I want it to mean what you need it to mean. Whatever the meaning you need to derive from it in the moment you are in.

In some instances it could mean simply – Just get out and play! Stop reading about it, stop listening to us talk about it! Just get out there and play. Of course, selfishly, it is not my wish that you disconnect from the podcast or my writing entirely but that chances are if you are reading or listening then you love this game and the hardest part of playing disc golf for most people is to simply drop what you are doing and play disc golf! Now, of course most of us can’t play disc golf all day and night, at work, while driving a car or riding on an airplane, so reading books, blogs, and listening to podcasts is a close substitution because through media it connects you to other like minded players out there at least mentally. But reading, listening to podcasts, and watching youtube videos about becoming a better player will never be a substitute for playing the game.

In other instances, when used on the course, the phrase “Just throw,” could have a more meditative meaning, such as forget everything else and focus on throwing. Drop your baggage, quiet your inner critic, visualize your shot, and simply pull back and release.

I want to add a third meaning, however, the process of throwing involves that release. We could rephrase “Just throw” with “Just let go.” To some this may sound cliche, to others profound, to me sometimes the most profound concepts are found in the simplest ideas. You can’t play disc golf without throwing or without letting go.

Simple enough concept, right? You pull back, release, and move forward. You may have good lies, you may have bad ones but at least you move forward. One of my favorite sayings for someone who throws and lands in a bad place is: “You can see it from there,” referring to the basket. It’s meant as a joke, but it’s true – you got closer to your goal and you can still see it. It may not have been an ace and it might sound a little overboard on the positive thinking boat, but seriously – if you are moving forward and having fun, does it matter? “You can still see it from there.”

The game of disc golf is to release and move forward.

You must release, you must let go, you must throw to play them game. Only you can control whether or not you are having fun. Sometimes that takes reframing your situation.

A friend of mine on the course the other day had a couple of bad holes and as a result his score was falling behind.  He began complaining about his round and someone in the group stated: “At least you’re having fun!” and he quickly  responded “I’m losing. I don’t have fun when I lose!”

What a statement! That is high standard he places on his happiness, isn’t it? On that day there were 4 of us playing which meant he had a 1 in 4 chance in having fun based on his standard, not to mention all of the other elements outside of his control, wind, weather, course condition, heat, level of practice, level of energy, ability to focus, all elements that help you win.

My standard for happiness on the course is being outside with the company of people I enjoy, playing a game I love and because this happens every round, as long as I remember this is my standard for happiness, I have fun every round. I will never say winning isn’t important, we should strive to win, but our positive emotions should not be based on a standard left so highly to chance.

In life we set our own standards and expectations everyday. Unfortunately when we set our standards and exceptions high and base them on factors we can’t control we allow our emotions to be controlled by chance, but if we are able to take a step back and reframe our standards and expectations for happiness, we have a much better chance of becoming content and truly happy. You’ll notice my standard for playing revolves closely around being grateful to being able to be outdoors, being grateful to have good company, and being grateful that I have the time and health to play such a truly fun game.

We can all use this outlook on life to a greater extent. Look around you right now, all you have – people, things, your environment are a product of the actions you took to get them. Hopefully it was all stuff that you wanted at sometime and you got it. Dissatisfaction occurs when you place to much emphasis on what you don’t have or what you can’t control, but you can change that. You create your own standard for happiness, contentment, and fun. It is up to you to find them, reflect on them, and enjoy this life!

No get out there and play this game you love and JUST THROW!


Today, I would like to talk to you about how we are going to grow the sport of Disc Golf, but first I want to talk to you about something I call “investments in the spirit.” I first mentioned this term “investments in the spirit” in my book Zen and the Art of Disc Golf and I identified this concept as any activity that you do that only requires small amounts of your time or resources in which you give to others and that will eventually come back to you with much higher returns than you initially gave.

I want you to picture yourself as a vessel that holds all the good things that want out of life. This vessel grows as you receive more and more of the good stuff. I’m talking about love, affection, friendship, wisdom, but also success and money as well. There is room for all of this good stuff in your vessel. Until it gets full.

Now, what I want you to understand about this vessel is that it can always grow to allow for more of the good stuff. There really is no limit to how much it can grow, but at a certain point of filling this vessel, it’s growth begins to stagnate. It begins to slow down and stops letting more good stuff in.

The good news is there is a secret to get you through that stagnation so that your vessel can continue to grow to get what you want out of life. This secret may sound a little counterintuitive but hear me out. You have to let some of that good stuff out.

That’s right, you have got to make a little space in that vessel to let the universe know that you are ready to be refilled again and to grow some more. You have got to give away some of that good stuff and have faith that it not only will be returned but it will be returned more abundantly.

So if you want more love, you’re going to have to be more loving. If you want more affection you’re going to have to be more affectionate. If you want more friends, you will need to be a better friend. If you want more wisdom, you’re gonna have to share your wisdom. If you want more success you’re going to have to help other people find their success. And if you want more money (which all of us really do), you’re going to have to let some money go to a cause of your choosing with unrelenting faith that it’s going to come back to you.

It’s no secret that we (zendiscgolf) gives a lot of things away through social media, through this podcast, through our blogs and I am often asked how I can afford to give so many things away. The answer is simple: for everything I give away I get back at least tenfold from you guys – my listeners, readers, and followers, therefore my small investment reaps much higher rewards than its initial dollar value.

But let me explain this to you: Your return on investment is not going to come immediately. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes we’ve been taking for so long that we have to let a lot out of our vessels before we can start receiving again. But when you start getting it back, it will be no mystery as to why it has come back into your life.

This law of giving, (and it is a law) works every time, but unfortunately as we get so wrapped up
in our own lives, it becomes very easy to get into the habit of taking more than we give.

As our vessel becomes full, it won’t allow anymore good stuff to get in. In fact with a lack of gratitude and appreciation for what we have, the vessel begins to shrink and actually pushes some good stuff out and we become self destructive. We spend more than we make, we go into debt, taking more than we give. We eat more calories than we burn, we get fat, taking more than we give. We expect more out of others without giving them more of ourselves, we cause our own suffering, taking more than we give.

Now don’t misunderstand me, you don’t need to empty your vessel in order to get more out of life. In other words, you don’t have to donate all of your money or all of your time to expect better out of life. It actually takes very little giving to get the process going and it’s not all about money as I mentioned above.

As a matter of fact the easiest way for you to give is to use the talents that you have and make the world a better place.

There is an old Zen proverb that tells of a student going to his master and asking him “How we bring about world peace?” Unexpectedly, the Zen master simply says “sweep the floor.” You see, it’s not always the big things we do that make huge differences. It’s the little things that we can do every day that make our lives better and other people’s lives better as well that multiply and make the world a better place.

So how does this relate to Disc Golf?

We often talk about growing the sport and the reason we want to do this is because Disc Golf gives so much to us. It is fun, peaceful, meditative, we enjoy the competition, and it comes very often with little to no cost to play. It gives us so much and yet expects so little.

If you truly want to grow the sport of Disc Golf you’re going to have to give something to grow Disc Golf.

When we talk about giving something to grow disc golf we were aren’t just talking about money. You can just as easily grow the sport using any talent that you have.

– Donate your time to other people, teaching them how to play.
– If you’re talented and working with children, develop a program to get children involved in Disc Golf.
– Sacrifice some of your game time to collect trash on the course.
– If you’re a writer, start a blog, write a book, even if you don’t have any Web development abilities, write to any of the bloggers on this cast we can all use additional writer on our blogs.
– If you are good at landscaping, volunteer to assist with course maintenance.
– If you are good at organizing, organize a team for your college or school, organize a club for your locality
– If you are good at photography, show the world the beauty that you see on the disc off course. (don’t forget to post and #zendiscgolf)

Your options are limitless. We all have talents that if used with the right amount of focus we will not only grow the sport and make the world a better place.

And that’s another tool for your Disc Golf bag.

Patrick McCormick

This blog originally appeared in ZDGP EP23.

DISCS & ZEN – Aggressive VS Finesse Play

This post is based on Episode 11 - Aggressive VS Finesse Play of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast. Listen using player above.

No doubt about it, all disc golfers want more distance on our drives. That’s part of the quest for faster drivers, more glide, and techniques that allow us to whip a disc like Simon Lizzote, effortlessly putting a driver out there 300-400 feet or farther. But let’s be real honest here – not every hole allows for that type of power and the most experienced player will tell you if you have a tight window that you need to make it through – power and aggression are not necessarily your best friend. On these tight shots finesse may be a better ally.

The word finesse has french origins and is derived from the word fine meaning pure and delicate. Websters defines finesse as follows:

Skill and cleverness that is shown in the way someone deals with a situation, problem, etc.

So, to put it another way – finesse means evaluating a situation for what it is and instead of using the same tool (disc) or trick (type of throw) you might normally go for, using the correct tool or trick for the job. In order to evaluate the situation you must be immersed in it and be able to visualize all possible tools, tricks, and outcomes (shots) .

Think about it as if you are some type of disc golf Terminator and have a cyborg-like lens in front of your vision, constantly drawing geometrical shapes and lines and coming up with figures overtop of your view of the shot. It runs through a sequence of possibilities, carefully, but quickly finding the best shot you could take. In order for the system to work though, it has to overlay your current shot, not the last one, not the next one. To evaluate your current situation you need to be absorbed it. This is called meditative focus. Breaking that down – Mediation is absorption in the now and focus is that meditation in action.

Having a sense of meditative focus allows you to step out of the box and make game based decisions rather than ego based decisions. By game based decisions, I mean what action or shot will work best RIGHT NOW and improve your overall score. By ego based decisions, I mean what shot merely makes you FEEL BETTER or LOOK BETTER than someone else. In this way you are playing the course, not your competition. In essence, sometimes that means throwing a putter off the tee and creating a new driver shot you are comfortable with. Sometimes it means playing par golf instead of going for the birdie. Sometimes it means not putting 100% of your power on a faster disc, or maybe discing down altogether. That’s what it means to make game based over ego based decisions.

So in a way, disc golf is always inherently a game of finesse, not aggression. Finesse is meditative focus and doing what is right in the moment. Aggression is trying to prove to yourself or someone else, who has the larger…ego.

This is just like life. Every obstacle, conflict, wall we find ourselves up against is not always a prescription to handle with aggression. Usually finesse is key. Newton’s 3rd law of motion is not only true in physics but also in human interaction:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This means that any energy you put into this world  is returned to you equally in order to oppose it. Most often, when we find ourselves in conflict the answer is not to respond aggressively but to respond intelligently – with finesse. Responding aggressively only makes the opposition dig in their heels and fight back harder.


There is an old analogy in Taoist philosophy that states when you reach a rockslide in the middle of the road that makes it impossible for you to cross or go around – you should become like water finding all of cracks to get to the other side rather than expending all your energy pushing, pulling or punching (ouch!) the rockslide aggressively. To be like water means to go with the flow and to find the cracks is using the flow to find the weakness of an obstacle.

On the disc golf course this is using meditative focus to make GAME BASED decisions instead of EGO BASED decisions. In life it is the same, finding the delicate flow that gets you to the other side.

Patrick McCormick
Author – Zen & The Art Of Disc Golf
Host – The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Only a few days left on the ZEN DISC GOLF TEAM BOX Kickstarter! If you want a ZENDISCGOLF Bagtag, Putter, Mini, Stickers, Etc – Check out our Kickstarter!


Image by @westerbse on Instagram


DISCS & ZEN – Disc Golf & Meditation

In last weeks podcast we discussed mediation. The word meditation means so many different things to different people, as a matter of fact there probably are as many definitions as there are practitioners. And for each of those there is another definition for non-practitioners. This is why there are many schools of thought on the practice of meditation. This is also why there is such a stigma that surrounds it from those people not really sure what it is.

The easiest way to define something is to describe it in terms of both what it is and what is isn’t. That way you reach both sides of the coin. The truth lies somewhere in between.

Webster’s defines meditation thusly:
The act or process of spending time in quiet thought : the act or process of meditating.
Jon Kabat-Zinn describes it in his book, Wherever You Go There You, Are like this:
“In Pali, which is the original language of the Buddha there is no one word corresponding to our word meditation even the meditation might be said to evolved in an extraordinary degree in ancient Indian culture. One word that is frequently used as Bhavana and Is translated to development through mental training”

You will notice that Webster’s makes no attempt to define either a solid practice or a final result of meditation. This is because there are many practices or paths to Bhavana. Some are strict and rigid such as the Zen school which requires practitioners to be in very specific seated poses for lengthly periods of time.  And some very loose such as the westernized Mindfullness school who simply advise to find a quiet place where you can sit or lay down comfortably.

But in truth, the path and the the destination all lie within the circle of the practice. Meditation can be those activities (or in-activities) that assist in developing an individual through mental training. In Z&TAODG I argue that disc golf itself can be a path to mental training and thus its own form of walking meditation.

This of course involves developing an an awareness of the moment rather than sifting from one moment to the next and tossing one shot after another without regard to what’s working or not on the course.

Our thoughts are like discs in our disc golf bags. Sometimes we run across a disc that simply doesn’t work for us. We can’t work it into our game. And generally, we either decide to keep throwing it and failing or we lug it around, weighing down our shoulder straps with no purpose other than we do not notice it or refuse to let it go.

Thoughts have the same effect. Any negative thought or lie that we tell ourselves needs to be removed from our bag because it does our round and our lives no good. There is no use for these thoughts and so we must remove them before they weigh us down and do more harm than good. Removing them only makes room for better thinking just as removing a disc doesn’t work and replacing it with a disc that does.

Meditation is building the awareness that allows us to see things for what they are, helping us not to cling onto thinking that is not useful to us . It takes practice to develop the awareness to know the difference and to remove the thoughts that are not helpful, replacing them with thoughts that are. This awareness begins with the awareness of the moment. Your shot is the moment. Your disc is your thought. Choose the thinking that works best for the moment, as you would choose the disc that works best for your shot. This is true meditation.

Next time you are on the disc golf course, use these tips to help develop a solid foundation of moment to moment awareness and thus use disc golf as meditation in itself:
  • Take a deep breath before each shot. Feel the oxygen enter your body. Imagine it flowing through you, feeding every cell of your body. Then exhale slowly before taking your shot.
  • Feel each disc in your hand before throwing it. Notice the weight of the disc. Notice the feel of the plastic.
  • Feel the breeze on your skin. Notice its effect on trees.
  • Listen to the birds or water flowing on the course
  • Listen to your own thoughts. Notice confidence or anxiety wrapped up in your thinking and how it affects your heart and breathing.

Patrick McCormick

– Author of Zen & The Art of Disc Golf (Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook)
– Host of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Featured photo by @rheia760 on Instagram

DISCS & ZEN – A Game of Gaining and Losing Control

I will admit to you that I have a fear of flying. It’s not a debilitating fear, I still get on airplanes and maintain my composure without having any type of substance to help, but when that airplane pulls out onto the runway and those engines begin to rev up, I really begin to feel the fear. How I get through this, I suppose, is by reminding myself how wonderful whatever trip I’m about to go on will be and getting through this fear will be worth it.

Interestingly enough, I have no fear of heights and I think I really have less of a fear of death than most people (as a medic firefighter, I believe face I it little more often than most). I also have no fear of cars and as they all say you have a better chance of dying in a car accident than in an airplane crash. So I will take my admission one step further and state that my fear of flying is not necessarily a fear of being up in the air or dying in an airplane, it is a fear of not being in control.

I think for many people this fear comes standard. It may manifest itself in a multitude of different ways including phobias, personality traits, and behaviors. Most people do not like to give up control.

It is interesting, then, to ask a question: do we really have control of ourselves? Obviously most of us believe we can control our behaviors and our actions. But where do our actions begin? They begin with our thinking and our feelings. Our control of ourselves begins with the controlling of our thoughts and feelings.

Continuing with the Zen and the Art of Disc Golf metaphor used in my book: when we hold disc golf up and look at it from a certain angle, disc golf can become a window to ourselves and to our lives. When we step up on the tee pad we have control over the type of throw we are going use, our disc selection, and we have control of our thoughts about the shot. But all control ends when that disc leaves your hands. The flight of that disc and the lie of that disc is dependent on a multitude of factors from the wind, the trees, the terrain – Once that disc leaves your hands control is lost.

Really successful disc golfers know this even if they have never really labeled it in this way. They know upon release, that they have done everything that they could do to control shot but once they let go, all control is lost. The only control you have over your round begins in your head, is transmitted through your body, to your hand, and ends when that plastic leaves your hand. In a way, every shot in our game is a combination of gaining and losing control – over and over again.

In life it is the same. Truly successful people understand that success comes with risk, and to never do anything that scares us or makes us feel like we are not in control would lead to never being truly successful. Success begins with gaining control over ourselves followed by losing control by putting yourself out there to win.

Every blog, every podcast, every tweet, and especially the book is a combination of controlling content – then releasing it to the world and hoping it flies the way I hope it will. But if I never would have let go, I wouldn’t be living the dream that I am now, being able to make disc golf a part of my living.

That being said – I release another post, hoping it flies straight and hits chains the way I am hoping it will!

Patrick McCormick

– Author of Zen & The Art of Disc Golf
– Host of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Featured photo by @alrightguyy on Instagram

DISCS & ZEN – Growing the sport by owning the sport.

On the Zen Disc Golf Podcast we talk a ton about growing the sport of disc golf and we like to ask the question, “What does growing the sport mean to you? Is it an active process or is it something we hope just sort of happens by dropping the hashtag #growthesport? A few weeks ago, I asked that question on my twitter and got a lot of fantastic responses, all of them really great and unique in there own way.

Over the past few years I have really wanted to get some people from the fire department (where I work) to come out and play, but could never seem to get anyone out on the course. After a long time of failing to make any great stride in getting them to come out and play, I began rationalizing in my mind that it’s just near impossible to interest a bunch of crossfitting, football obsessed, alpha-males to commit to an hour of throwing a bunch of frisbees in the woods.

Then I was transferred to a new station and for some reason I decided I would try a new approach with my new crew. Instead of waiting for them to find out that I played this “weird thing called disc golf” and then putting myself in a defensive position to try and defend snide remarks, I decided to flip the script and go offensive.

I brought my bag of discs in the station and dropped them on the coffee table in the day room and began re-organizing my bag in front of everyone. Then, as I was asked “What are those?” I began answering – “These are disc golf discs. If you’ve never played, it’s a blast! I’m playing tomorrow. I would love to take you out on the course and teach you. I know you’ll love it.”

Within the next few weeks, I had 3 crew members on the course learning to throw. Almost all of them have since bought their first set of discs and year passes to the course. As they put it, they are “all in.” We even have an upcoming tournament between two of our fire stations coming up soon.

Why had it taken me YEARS to get someone from work out on the course? Because instead of merely being defensive over the game – I OWNED it. By owning it, I mean I took pride in it. I showed an enthusiasm which intrigued others and that proved to be way more powerful than casually just mentioning “I play disc golf” and anticipating negative remarks.

There are many ways people are out there growing the sport. In Episode 3 of the Zen Disc Golf Podcast we talk to Good Up Disc Golf, a group of guys in Texas bringing Disc Golf to the public schools and youth. In (upcoming) Episode 4  I get to talk to Alan Hargreaves who brought disc golf to many while doing mental health outreach. But growing disc golf in numbers both small and large really starts with us as being ambassadors of the sport. I admit that this small change in my own attitude has grown the sport by at least 10 new players this past month. At least 1 member of my fire station has already brought his son out to the course, introducing the next generation. All because I decided to OWN it and show the same enthusiasm I show on the podcast or in my book to my co-workers.

It’s really interesting seeing what can be achieved with a solid shift in attitude.

Patrick McCormick
– Author of Zen & The Art of Disc Golf
– Host of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Featured photo by @skaibitriinu (Instagram)

DISCS & ZEN – What Disc Golf Taught Me About Life

Not to be over-dramatic or anything, but plain and simple – DISC GOLF CHANGED MY LIFE. Being sort of introverted, I did not grow up playing many sports. I have been a musician my whole life, and as a young person I spent most of my time in a dark recording studio layering guitar tracks or vocals. I was scared of the sunlight. I had played disc golf  a couple of times as a young teen with a church that I attended, and enjoyed it but it never really stuck as I went through the trials and tribulations of my teen years.

Fast-forward about a decade and a half, I am living at the beach in Virginia Beach (still recording) but finding myself taking breaks more and more often to walk on the beach or jump on a bike. One day on a bike ride with my lovely wife, I realized how close we lived to the disc golf course I played at as a kid and immediately had the itch to try it again.

By this time, I had grown up, gotten a job, joined the workforce and told myself I was too old to have fun anymore. But there we were the next week with frisbees we bought at Petsmart, trying to hock these featherweight plastics 300 ft. Needless to say, the frisbees didn’t work out. But whether it was nostalgia or disc golf fever, once I heard those chains, I was addicted. I upgraded those frisbees to the Innova standard set -Leopard, Shark, and Aviar. Then I bought a bag. And then a few more discs. Then some replacements in case I lost those. Oh, and I needed a practice basket… You get the drift – we have all been there.

But most importantly. I began walking, playing, being in the sunlight, walking through the trees, listening to the birds and I started wondering: “What if I would have continued playing all those years?”

When I wasnt on the course, I craved it. I watched YouTube videos at work. I even carried my skillshot to work and through during breaks. I was seriously hooked. I began looking for that perfect flight path like a surfer looks for the perfect wave. And I began realizing how everything in disc golf related to life, my happiness, my health, and this focussed state which kept me so grounded. I felt better about living my life after every round.

I began to realize that just because you grow up doesn’t mean your too old to enjoy anything anymore. I began noticing many little things that made me happy and showing those things gratitude. Disc golf hit me like a wave and continues to give me strength and happiness. It is a meditative practice. It is Zen.

Patrick McCormick
– Author of Zen & The Art of Disc Golf
– Host of The Zen Disc Golf Podcast

Image courtesy of @nicholas_foster from Instagram