POSTED ON JULY 15, 2009:
Not a bad life for pro Frisbee fanatics
What is the best job in pro sports? If you haven't given this topic serious consideration during your life then you are not a true sports fan. At least not on my level, which some consider a sickness.
The mind immediately screams pro football player. The body winces in pain at the thought. Watch Earl Campbell limp around or hear another story about another broken down player of yesteryear and we quickly rule that one out.
A football coach would not be a bad alternative. You could still immerse yourself in a sport you love. However, the hours a coach devotes to their trade might not be the balance of work and home life you seek.
Becoming a professional basketball player is not a terrible idea. However, many of us are limited by our height, or lack thereof.
Baseball seems reasonable. However, the MLB season is 162 games. If you do not excel at the highest level, busing from town to town for a minor league team may suck the life out of you--no offense Drillers.
Tennis players peak at 30. That's a long post-career life to endure. Pete Sampras has Bridgette Wilson. Most retired players do not.
I gave referee a long hard thought. Your proximity to the action makes it a viable option. Another plus is the lack of athletic ability required. Unfortunately, you must be a blind idiot to qualify. Oh well.
The answer? Golf, of course. Professional golfers have the life. They make golf carts full of money. They always see their families on tour with them celebrating. Did I mention they play golf for a living?
One problem. Most of us suck at golf. Why not shift to the next closest thing. Disc golf. Did that seem like a forced transition to you, too? Glad we're on the same page.
"This year alone I started my season off in Flagstaff, AZ. That was in the beginning of March. The end of March, I went to Atlanta, GA., then I flew back. I've been to St. Louis, Dallas and Santa Cruz," said 20-year-old professional disc golfer and Owasso native, Devan Owens.
Owens started disc golfing in 2004. He captured the Junior World's title in 2005. A loss of interest saw him take a year off. A troubled relationship pushed him back toward the course in '06.
Upon continuing his playing career, he played in a tournament and did "all right."
"It made me really realized that I can hang with the top guys. Ever since then my confidence and my play has been a lot better. I'm sponsored by Innova Champions Disc and Twisted Flyer," said Owens.
You read correct. Not only does he travel the nation playing tournaments but he's sponsored. Just like a ball golfer minus a few bucks here and there. Ok, a lot less money is involved but you get the idea.
He's been on tour almost two years now. He's currently ranked 14th in the Pro Men Drive for the Championships standings on www.pdga.com.
You need a number of items working in your favor to be competitive in ball golf. Time, money, practice range and instructor are just a few of the requirements. You are also looking at a thousand dollars worth of equipment in your bag.
Disc golf is a wallet's best friend. Spend a few bucks on a few discs and BAM! You are in business. No tee times, no practice time--just visit one of the many disc golf courses in town and away you throw.
But hey, why listen to me? I'm a hack. You want to get started? Here is what a pro has to say.
"For a tournament player, in order to start and become a tournament player quick, I would say you need to learn how to throw a beginner's disc," said Owens.
A Frisbee is for fun on the beach. What makes a disc a beginner's disc? Well, because you are throwing different distances you need different discs. The driver, mid-range and of course, putter.
However, if you pick up the driver disc and let her rip, you may not find your results likeable. "Most people go out and buy a new driver. It's really not made for them. They really don't know how to throw the disc. They fly a certain way. If you don't know how throw it, it's not going to do what it's supposed to do," he said.
You see, this is just like ball golf, sorta. A professional may chose a 9.5 lofted driver. He or she may also know subtleties to work a draw or a fade. Disc golfers work flight paths it the same manner.
"People who know how to throw a disc know exactly the way it is supposed to fly. They know how to change the angle. A beginner, they have no idea what they are doing--to be honest," he said.
The recommendation? Learn to throw the mid-range disc. Learn the flight path. Righties: right to left. Lefties: left to right.
Owens is dedicated to his craft now. He recently started a new job. His boss? You guessed it--a disc golfer. He'll be afforded the time off for tournaments. It doesn't hurt that avid disc golf proponent David Wise recently upgraded Centennial Park's disc golf course in Owasso to 18 holes. As for Owens, he lives a few blocks from the new addition.
"I usually wake up in the morning and putt in the back yard. I might start a round and play nine or 18 holes in the morning. When it gets around noon and gets too hot, I don't do anything.
"Around 7:30 or 8pm, I play a round at the course in Owasso. Then I'll putt at the practice basket until almost 9:30 or 10pm sometimes," he said.
Disc golfers get a bad rap at times. Just remember this; while we are busting tail making a living, he's traveling the country playing disc golf.
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