Wednesday, November 20, 2013

30 Days of Putting Review

"I see you've got an ultimate frisbee thing in the back yard?" the neighbor lady hollers at me as she is raking up leaves.

ULTIMATE FRISBEE, is she kidding?!  I smile politely knowing that maybe a few people on my block even knows that disc golf exists... let alone that calling a disc a "frisbee" is like calling a Ferrari a golf cart.

"Oh yes, my disc golf basket." I respond, "I hope it's not too loud", knowing full well that even someone with the patience of a saint and an unbridled love of rattling chains would be sick to death of me and my ultimate frisbee thing.

My son rattling some chains w/ the new basket.

Seven weeks ago, I started the 30 days of putting. Simple math tells you that 7 x 7 = 49 and 49 days is more than 30 days, so what the hell happened?

Life got in the way of my 30 days of putting and about 4 weeks ago I had no practice basket and no time. I had started out strong for 3 weeks but dropping kids at school, crazy work and a sunset that starts roughly after lunch eventually shut me down. Trying to putt at a tree on my lunch break just felt stupid. I was quickly online hunting for a basket and came up with an Instep DG200 for about $80 shipped. Awesome basket and I highly recommend it.

Two weeks ago the basket arrived and I dove back into putting practice like it was my damn job.

If you have any room in your yard, basement or living room - get a basket. Get a basket. It will improve your putting - it is fun - it is a great idea, so just do it.

So, what does it take to improve your putting?

1. Confidence (and you can't have it with out #2)
2. Practice MAKING putts.

Practice, if you are MISSING the shot, teaches you how not to put it in the chains. Practice, if you are MAKING the shot, teaches you how to put it in the chains. Simple idea and it works.

Only push further back when you are making it consistently from a step closer. The process teaches your brain and body how to do it. It just works and it's the brain-child of Mark Ellis.

In the last couple weeks I've found a confidence that is unlike anything I've felt before with my putting. In games I don't get bent out of shape at all if the disc spits out out - or bangs off the rim and I don't get nervous at all stepping up to any putt. Doing the 30 days of putting really is a fantastic exercise and one I hope to start again in a week or two. I'll continue to practice putting in the meantime - but I'm going to take a little break from the 15 minutes, break, 15 minutes routine.

Finding time for the 30 day challenge it is tough, as well as it being physically and mentally challenging. Many times I would be just falling apart in the 2nd session - missing  from a distance that I just felt great at and I just wanted to say screw it and call it a day. You do get tired, you get sore, it's hard to do it everyday and when you're doing all this time putting and then you miss a 15' shot in a's disheartening .

I putted in snow, I putted in heavy wind and sleet, and quite often I putted with a frozen hand.
I putted up-hill, down-hill, across-hill, and almost always very poorly.
In a box, with a fox, upside down, in a town. I putted as poorly as a clown.

Seriously just D- to F+ putting for the vast majority of this process, and by that I mean I was only good inside of 21- 24' for a very long time.

Had a few morning sessions that involved much snow inside the putters.

I missed putts from 5' all the way out to 40' (and everywhere in between) MANY times and I even managed to pickup a wasp once while reaching for a disc and that sucked. Wasps can suck it.

Eventually missing or making stopped really mattering. I no longer felt an up or down emotion with it because it became so routine - and that's when you can drain it uphill, through a tree, from 30' (in the dark) while being attacked by a wolf pack. You get to a point where you just go with the muscle memory and that's the turning point.

Mark Ellis - who created this "Confidence in Putting" program - preaches that you should use whatever putt feels right. Spin putt, pitch putt, straddle, forward, turbo-behind-the-back, whatever works for you. For me, it took some serious trial and error to find out what really works. I went really far down the road with straddle putting before realizing that I wasn't feeling it from 24' and beyond. I could hit the chains great until I had to start giving it more umph, and then it just wasn't as consistent so I went back to the forward stance pitch putt and managed to get consistent results out to about 28-30'.

Like most people new to disc golf, I wanted a shortcut to being a better putter. I watched every youtube video I could find about spin putts, pitch / push putts, read the forums, and thought - "that's it, I'll do that and I'll be more consistent!" and I still sucked. For me, and I wouldn't say this is true for everybody, but it's very true for me, the only thing that fixed my putting was doing it over and over and over. Eventually my brain and muscles worked out the mechanics and slowly improved and my emotion was taken out of it.

And it doesn't mean that I'm now even a GOOD putter, but I don't have anxiety about those putts. I know that I can and will make those putts because I've seen them go in over and over in practice. Perhaps the best thing to come of it - is that when I miss during a game - I don't go "Ahhhh crap on a stick!" or feel deep frustration because I know that sometimes I will miss and sometimes I won't.

Happy putting.
Another morning out with just mr. pineapple skull.


  1. Putting – what a pain. Great post. One thing I started doing that helped me "putt through the basket" was picking a chain link and not taking my eye off of it until the disc was in the basket. It seemed to help me with my aim. Do you do that?

  2. I go with a general distance more than focusing on one spot. I think it comes from putting at night so much - I can't make out a specific spot. Weird, but it works for me.

  3. I just found your blog. I was thinking of making my own for disc golf to help keep me interested in improving. Your site and writing are great! Thanks!

    I have a basket in the yard too, and man does it help with the confidence part of the game. A new drill I started doing is putting the basket really close to the fence, in the edge of the trees, or around the corner of the garage, and setting myself up to have to use one side of the basket, forcing anhyzer, hyzer, or straight shots only.

    I will mark a spot to putt from that offers some challenge, and make sure I only have one disc in arm's reach to throw so I have to make it count. I shape up my throw, holding the disc up and trying to visualize the path of the disc from the angle I release at, with the end of that path being where I wanted the disc to hit. Shape up my shot, and visualize again. And then it becomes like shooting a gun for me (well, this was the advice my dad taught me about shooting)

    As I prepare to actually throw, I try to keep my brain "paused" with the release angle needed for the flight path being the only thing in my head. If I do it right, I make the putt nearly every time and it feel like I didn't even aimed. Getting my head right like this helps me avoid floating the disc away from nose up or wind, and also has reinforced my stance and release habits.

    Night putting is a great thing too. I like to use that as a reinforcement method for basic putting. I go out and putt with the lights on, working away from the basket until I am as far out as possible but still not missing shots. Then go turn the light out and try to find the same shot again with out aiming.

    1. Thanks for the compliments, I'm glad you found it and like it!

      I've been starting to add some obstacles between me and basket just recently (last week or so). We've got patio furniture and some small aspens in our back yard so I started putting from behind them. It's absurd how just having something in your line of sight will throw off your putt.

      As you say, putting the basket in different positions really affects your ability to adjust. Once your brain learns WHERE to throw to, it starts to defeat some of the "live practice" feel of it. I will have to start trying to partially hide it behind a corner, that's a great idea.

      Another big thing I've found is that from 20' out, I do much better with less hyzer on my shot. My flat pitch putt is getting much more accurate.