The day of the tournament, everyone was surprised that I wasn't going to play. After Karen and her friend literally begged me to play, I reluctantly agreed. I have never wanted to play in a disc golf competition. I compete with myself, not with others.
The tournament went smoothly, Karen finished second among the four women playing. The one who beat her plays on the French National Women's team. I finished in the middle of the pack of excellent, experienced players. I was pleasantly surprised.
During the third round, on the most difficult par 4 hole, Gilbert Carniel, one of the older players (my age) who is the primary contact for the Coutras club, helped me out of a difficult situation. The shot looked impossible to me, but he showed me a trick and I dropped my disc next to the pin. After being down quite a bit in that last round and suffering from the 90+ degree heat, something about learning a new shot inspired me and I subsequently had 4 birdies and finished the round a respectable 2 over par. Gilbert's 15-year old son Mike, who is on the French National Junior team, easily won the competition 9 under par while his sister Kim took the honors for the women.
I mention this because the real story in this blog is about the next tournament which was sponsored by the Gilbert's club in Coutras on Sunday the 21st of September. It was the last disc golf tournament for the season which was part of the Southwest (France) tour.
Coutras is a village of about 8,000 people that sits where two rivers, L'isle and the Dronne meet. It is considered the gateway to the spectacular Dordogne region and is a only few minutes away from the famous Saint-Emilion wine region.
We were greeted warmly by Disc Golf Club Coutrillon (Coutrillon is what people from Coutras call themselves) and a light breakfast was waiting. In addition to Gilbert, Mike, and Kim, Steve, another son who is on the French National Team, was going to play. Gilbert's wife managed the refreshments and scoring, and between matches, his grandson who was about two tried to throw discs. I think you get the idea here.
The island was Gilbert's idea and from what I understand, he previously has done quite well with it. I felt really bad about taking 6 on that hole after being under par until then (our group started on hole 6), but Gilbert consoled me by telling me he scored 10 (the max) on it. Karen on the other hand landed in with her first shots during her first two rounds. She was a contender for the 'closest to the pin' prize until the last round when Laurent from the Lagorce club, who was otherwise having a very bad day, beat her out by a few centimeters.
I learned a lesson from these competitions. As much skill as you may develop, Disc Golf, like many other sports, is a psychological game. Much as Gilbert's trick helped me on to much better performance at Tarnos, my poor performance at the Island dragged me down on subsequent holes. And it did it on each round - I got discouraged. Fortunately, on the second round, it came near the end, so it was only my last few holes that showed the effects. This is something I really need to work on.
I note that in France, the cities provide a small amount of funding to clubs who bring recreational activities to their communities. The clubs must be what we would call corporations, with officers, annual meetings, and a plan for each year. Some of the disc golf clubs are also sponsored by local businesses.
While disc golf hasn't yet exploded in France, if the club at Coutras is any example, it won't be long before it becomes a great family sport here.