How Casey DeSmith’s love of disc golf keeps him settled

Every athlete will say that down time is as vital as the time you’re on, in the thick of it.

 

And every athlete has their own way of managing that down time. 

Casey DeSmith is in the thick of things now, having been thrust into the starting goalie role for the Vancouver Canucks in their first-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators.

 

Away from the rink, DeSmith and his wife, Mollie, have their baby daughter Kinsley taking up much of their time.

 

But when he gets some time to himself, DeSmith has a deep passion for another game: Disc golf.

 

He is so adept at the game that he’s got an endorsement with Prodigy Discs. Prodigy released a limited-edition Canucks disc when DeSmith was traded to Vancouver in the fall.

 

On a recent day off, he dragged Carson Soucy out to Queen Elizabeth Park to show the lanky blueliner the basics.

 

Soucy was blown away by DeSmith’s skill level.

 

“He can throw it like twice as far as I can,” Soucy exclaimed. It was his first time playing.

 

“As a guy who played baseball growing up, I know how to throw. Disc golf is humbling,” he said.

 

DeSmith eyes lit up when he was asked about his away-from-the-rink sports passion.

 

DeSmith has been a passionate player for about eight years, ever since his uncle came across videos on YouTube of people playing.

 

“Disc golf is way bigger now,” he said. “Back then, it was really niche.”

 

Have you seen this before, asked his uncle, who was visiting DeSmith at home in New Hampshire.

 

“Yeah, I’ve done it one-time, just like everyone has done it one-time,” DeSmith replied. His uncle was intrigued. He started looking online to see if there were any courses nearby.

 

They found one, showed up to discover that the operators had some proper golf discs available to borrow, grabbed on each and the rest really is history, DeSmith said.

 

“I threw it once and I was like, ‘This is really cool. I want to be good at this,’” he said.

 

He wasn’t bad to start and kept working at it. By his fifth year he was humming.

 

Playing for the Penguins is clearly an X-factor in this story. The Pittsburgh area is brimming with courses.

 

“Pittsburgh, there’s phenomenal courses. Probably one of the best cities in (the U.S.) for disc golf,” he said.

 

He’s currently sponsored by Prodigy Discs, who also have a partnership with the NHL.

 

To really enjoy the game, you do need to find a course with some challenges. The best course he’s found locally is Raptors Knoll in Langley, which has been rated as one of the world’s best courses.

 

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Tyson Ashford, one of the founders of Coquitlam-based disc golf club Frolfers Anonymous, said that it’s no surprise that DeSmith is a big fan of Raptors Knoll.

 

“It’s one of the best disc golf courses in Canada. Only better one I think is in P.E.I.,” he said.

 

When DeSmith joined the Canucks, Ashford was excited to learn that the goalie was such a passionate player. More and more professional athletes are picking up the sport, he said, drawn to its mix of leisure and competitive play.

 

San Diego Padres pitcher Dylan Cease, for instance, is another pro athlete with a passion for disc golf and is building a new course in Alabama, one he’s hoping will become a “legendary” destination course.

 

To DeSmith, the best holes show the designer’s knowledge of the game and utilize the terrain to create challenging holes.

 

“For me, there’s got to be some trees but there’s also has to be like fair lines through the trees that you have to hit,” he explained. “And is it long enough?”

 

“Queen Elizabeth Park. It’s very, very short. I’m just throwing putters,” he said. “If you’re a beginner, you’re going to go out and bring some beers and try to do this round. But for a player like me, I’m looking for a little bit more. Lots of trees. Fair lines. Par-threes, fours and fives. Not just par-threes. There’s some length to it. There’s some out of bounds.”

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“It’s a good way to take your mind off hockey. Get some fresh air. You’re walking around and stretching your legs. And it’s fun. It’s relaxing,” he said.

 

BACK SKATING — Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers returned to Canucks practice Thursday in Nashville. He missed game 2 on Tuesday with the flu. … Thatcher Demko is on the road with the Canucks in Nashville, but not skating. His new knee injury is expected to keep him out of the remainder of the series and likely the second round too, should the Canucks advance. … Brock Boeser left Thursday’s practice early after taking a shot off his wrist. Rick Tocchet said after practice he thought the winger was fine.

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