Growing Up Disc Golf
Scott Stokely and Aaron Rath
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Mark T. Sneed for Reader Views (06/2021)
Before Scott Stokely became a national disc golf champion, he was many things. As a teenager, he bordered on being out of control. He dabbled in drugs. He was arrogant and dangerous and a fugitive from the law. Yet, somewhere in that madness, Stokely turned it around. “Growing Up Disc Golf” is a revealing story that reads as a memoir but seems to be so much more. It is part biography, part memoir, part confessional, part sports story and consistently a fun read.
The biography part of “Growing Up Disc Golf” happens at the outset. There are many dark moments as Stokely struggles to find his footing as a young man. He experiments with drugs and becomes a low-level drug addict eventually as a result of his friendships. That part of the story is well done.
Those same friends who lead Stokely astray, are also the friends that introduce him to disc golf. It is disc golf that saves Stokely. Despite all the negatives, disc golf is where Stokely shines.
He is drawn to a newly created sport and as readers we watch as the boy grows into a man while the unofficial sport begins to catch on and gains acceptance, with nearly two thousand recognized courses across the nation.
I particularly liked all the war stories Stokely survived for the nearly twenty years he participated at the highest level of the sport. Stokely, who eventually becomes a national champion, explains all the intricacies of disc golf in his book. I thought disc golf was just tossing a Frisbee. Stokely points out the differences.
And while the story is about disc golf disc, it is not just a sports book. If this was just a book about disc golf, I might say that it was an okay book. I’ve read several books about sports and sports activities. In this book Stokely grows up. He struggles. He struggles a lot. Yet, in the struggles he seems to grow and get better.
All the while as readers we travel this road with the distinctive voice of Scott Stokely. It is truly distinct and one that is friendly, funny, open, and honest. Stokely is insightful. He teaches as he relates all the disc stories, tours, and tournaments he participated in as disc golf grew in popularity.
What is refreshing about “Growing Up Disc Golf” is the humor. There is a feeling of sitting across the table from Scott just listening to him tell these stories while drinking a beer or having lunch. The writing is so seamless that the conversational storytelling just works. Doing that is hard. There is a subtlety to the writing. At times, the story does go a little off track, as any storyteller who is worth his beans will tell you. And though the story meanders just a little, it does not take too much away in doing so.
Stokely’s exploits are numerous. He wants to be a champion. He wants to go to the World Championship and compete. He also wants to fall in love. (Sorry no spoilers.) The book is a great big bunch of stories told by Stokely. Well done. If there is one element of “Growing Up Disc Golf” I did not enjoy it was the ending. As a story being written, the conclusion comes out of nowhere and seems to end abruptly, like Stokely had to run to the bathroom and just never came back. The story seems to just end. Be prepared.
All in all, “Growing Up Disc Golf” by Scott Stokely and Aaron Rath was a fun and interesting book to read that will be enjoyed by sports fans and memoir fans alike. Highly recommend. Well done.