Thursday, April 5, 2018

The DD Women's Series - Part 4: Natalie Hollokӧi And Mental Pressure

We’ve covered a lot in our last three posts with DD team member Natalie Hollokӧi. From getting to know her disc golf background to learning about competition and touring in Europe, she’s provided us with exceptional insight into what it’s like to be a Swiss female professional disc golfer.

In our last post of this four-part series, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into how Natalie handles the mental pressure of the game both at home and abroad. She has had some interesting experiences and shows us how she manages to keep a positive attitude despite the obstacles she’s encountered.

US Competition

As we learned in our last post, touring in Europe isn’t quite the same as it is in America. “Playing a US tournament was another childhood dream,” Natalie told us, and in 2011 she made that dream a reality by traveling to Santa Cruz to compete in that year’s Worlds event. Citing that she was incredibly honored and proud to play with many other professional women, she ended in 19th place and had a great time.

However, that was just a warm-up for the mental pressure she would experience during the President’s Cup, where for several years in a row she battled against World Champion Paige Pierce. Natalie recalls the events fondly, saying “It was the first time they showed it on TV, and everyone was watching you. I had a caddy with me - he kept telling me to breathe.”

Hollokӧi’s vulnerability is refreshing here, as all too often people think that professional players don’t get nervous. Natalie will be the first to tell you exactly what races through her mind in these high-pressure situations, and most of the time it’s to calm down!

Play Like A Girl

For the most part, men in the United States are incredibly supportive of women in the sport of disc golf. Yet in Switzerland, Natalie feels like she encounters challenges when talking with others on the course: "I have also heard ‘for a woman you are throwing far.’ Once a man talked with me about distance throwing - they think women don’t throw far. The body is different from men to women, that’s science.”

Despite hearing this criticism, she maintains her composure and continues to shred each course she plays. When competing in the US, she does see some of these attitudes trickle over into different elements of the game. “[There’s] always a discussion about doing shorter tees or not. I played for the first time Master Worlds last year. They changed to the short tees and I was shocked!” Even certain tournaments, in general, seem to cater to men only, and rather than let it get Natalie frustrated, she simply finds events where she can truly excel and feel welcomed.

After learning a bit about disc golf in Switzerland and understanding the nuances of the sport here and abroad, does it make you excited to someday travel to Europe and play in a few events? It’s certainly a bucket list item for many! Thanks so much Natalie for sharing your insights with us, and we look forward to seeing what the rest of 2018 has in store for you.
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