Friday, December 27, 2013


 "Rich parameter support commencing," a woman's gentle voice spoke in Flight Master's head. The communication with his backbone of programming often felt like having a few people talking quietly into your ear. Different voices for different systems, but mostly just that lovely lady's voice crooning in his ear.

"Team Infinite's segment 1 has completed rendering for your flight. Physical map processed and intelligence procured. Please take route 1 with subroutine 4 and as always, have a nice flight sir."

Flight Master spun his disc once more, feeling his suit's intel-fabric multiplying his strength at will. Three quick steps, and without hesitation Flight Master sends his disc blasting from his hand at 400mph on an immediate arc into the entryway to the first segment.

"Sense mode engaged. Drive mode engaged," that soft voice whispered.

Flight master drops to a knee, fists on the ground.  Mentally he takes control of the disc and his vision is filled with the blurring lines of its path.

As the disc breaks through the entry door, Flight Master recognizes that Infinite has gone with the same tired method they've used the last few cycles. The light intensifies to maximum radiation trying to blind him. "Neutral density filter multiplier engaged," the woman's voice states and his vision evens out almost immediately. Flight Master scans as quickly as possible looking for the white globe that is his target before they kill the, "Light source terminated, filter phase shift, external light multiplier on."

Just as his vision found equilibrium he saw what was coming and bolted hard left. "Down draft maximum force detected... pilot evasion unauthorized."

Shhh, it's okay sweetie - I got this.

"Rectify to route 1 subroutine 4. Current estimate 53% chance of success calculated," this time a more stern male voice with a hint of impatience.

Okay, okay, and he righted the disc and increased spin rate and went nose up into the down draft.

"Down draft maximum force counter-balanced, find target, suggest quadrant 3."

Quadrant 3 it is... he could see a shimmer of white reflecting off an angle in quadrant 3... this looks like an easy bird. A smile cracked at the corner of his mouth just as he saw what he should have heard about already. "Inbound extrapolating projectiles, evasion subroutine 2 initialized."

And before Flight Master could even tilt his disc, he felt the shudder of the first explosion blasting his disc sideways. He let the disc continue it's roll pushing the past the explosion and went diving at the ground hoping for an air bounce. Flaring the disc up he managed to avoid two more explosions that faded low and he accelerated high off the deck. "Projectile intel subjugated, inbound paths accounted for." Thanks guys, projectiles make for a rough ride.

Quadrant 3 was just ahead and that sneaking suspicion was looking promising as he turned the disc over, banking hard right. A gentle glow of luminescence, yes... hidden behind a light bender. Without warning the disc was hammered from behind by something immense. The energy immediately drove the disc to the ground. Too late to worry about what that was, damn.

A much deeper voice spoke, "Skip angle suggested at 14 degrees, maximum spin. Ground stike 100% probable."

Flight Master felt the disc triangulating for an optimum landing and the gyro spinning up before deflecting off the floor, and without thinking he punched the acceleration at the last second. It wasn't an authorized move, but it felt right. Off the ground the disc careened, "All control systems deactivated during post ground strike."

Yeah, I know, this isn't my first rodeo here amigo.

He held his breath for all of a second, two seconds... three... the disc flaring nose up and arcing to the right. And then he felt the familiar warmth of crashing into the orb and being bathed in gentle light.

"Well done Flight Master.  Hole 1 orb obtained in one flight!"

Flight Master stood up with both hand to the sky, fists clenched. The roar from outside vibrating the floor - he could not help himself but to smile. No doubt a programming team at Infinite just lost their food rations if not their jobs. He raised his hand to retrieve the disc and felt it returning to him.

He glanced over his shoulder to see the Infinite navigator standing with his shoulders slumped. Meta-data streaming across the floor showed the progress Infinite had made. They had been stopped just 300 meters into the segment. Thousands of meters to go they'll be facing the most brutal programming imaginable and a triple bogey if they're lucky. Flight master gave a gentle wave to the poor guy, "Better you than me my friend. Have patience," and yet again he smiled.


Flight Master belongs to Team Eno, one of the most elite disc teams in the world. He is preparing to compete in the last broadcast of the day.

He stands alone on the side of the stadium's sprawling floor - flat, polished and deep.

Modern even by the standards of 2151.

The ceiling floats high above the shining floor, an artificial blue sky with puffy white clouds slowly drifting in front of the brilliantly bright computer generated sun.

Hidden in that projection ceiling are the machinations that Flight Master is known for out-witting to win the last 4 world titles.

Disc, as the competition is known, started from an obscure game known as disc golf that was played over 150 years ago in outdoor fields and forests. Only a handful of people had the patience for throwing plastic discs that would only fly as far as a human arm could muster.  Apparently, quite a bit of time was wasted not competing, but simply looking for lost discs. The idea brings a wry smile to Flight Master's face - hidden under his obsidian face-mask.

It wasn't until bio-metrics allowed humans to see and feel the the forces of physics that all sports were changed indefinitely. Sports that had been popular in the day, like American Football , became unbearable to watch. Software was wired into the individual players and worked out the future outcome of every move they faced in real-time.  The software fed each players' nervous systems with powerful stimuli to help them make the optimum moves.

After the first season of football where every game ended in a scoreless stalemate, the public had lost all interest in the game. The corporations that owned the game could not longer justify the expenses of paying it's citizens to develop and maintain the football teams. The pass-time faded into history.

Early gyroscope technology.
Once the first self-spinning discs were marketed to the general public the ball was rolling for the next generation of sport. Using sense and drive electrodes on a disc that is tied directly into a player's consciousness meant that throwing what the old-timers called a "hole-in-one" became as routine as walking.

Disc started with youth-programmers playing in recreational leagues long before the sport caught on.  Each team would create an intelligent course for the other team to play. (It's amazing nobody was ever seriously injured with all of the unregulated insanity that went on in the early years!) But the core of the game was developed, a disc navigator putting his disc in a hidden goal in as few flights as possible.  Each hole studded with traps, hazards and an innumerable amount of computational power behind it, making it as dynamic and ever-changing as possible.

The discs spin and travels as you will it. To Flight Master, throwing a disc felt that he was sending himself on each journey. He was for all intents and purposes a part of the disc, seeing in his mind what it sees. Feeling what it feels. His disc was worth more than what the corporation had spent on thousands of programmers. It was power.

The floor of the stadium dimmed to a dark charcoal and the sky darkened to two stark spotlights. The last stream of the day was about to commence and Flight Master stood up. Thousands of feet away, the opposing navigator stood as well, barely visible in his spotlight. The team he would face were known as 'Infinite'.  Flight Master stretched in his disc suit, a black intel-fabric that was deep black with the elegant exception being burning white lines striping his arms and legs. He knew that the better part of the planet was watching him via the stream and he reveled in it for a brief moment before raising a hand to the sky.

Even through the walls of the stadium he could hear the roar of his city outside, screaming for him from there homes, the streets, from everywhere.  It had been nearly 50 years since disc was played in front of a live audience. The need to travel to a broadcast to watch from physical seats had been kept alive by the corporations for entirely too long. People could watch Flight Master's every move from any angle they so desired all via the stream. The roar of his city filled him with pride and screaming for your team was one ritual that Flight Master hoped never died.

Team Infinite had become stale and tired in their course methods and Flight Master had no concerns with his chances of winning. His own team, ENO, had been boosted to the top of the league by an acquisition they'd made of a promising company from Japindia. Their libraries of design intelligence had made ENO developers literally unstoppable.  Teams facing his programmers would often take double to triple the flights per course, just based on the fact that certain holes verged on unsolvable but remained legal by the strict laws of Disc. Difficult yes, impossible no.

Flight Master was ready and the floor lost all color as he stepped forward and gently spun his disc to life. His pulse remained steady, balanced by system intelligence that kept his biology as close to perfection as a human could be.

It was time.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Disc Art!

So sick.

Played a round with a very nice guy named Ian Millard on Christmas Eve. He has an absolutely wicked forehand, definitely the best flick I've ever played with and it turns out he's also a fantastic artist and he's done some really cool disc golf art (and non-dg art as well).

Hand cut stencils with spray paint. NICE!

He has a website at if you're interested in checking out more.

He's done some sweet custom basket artwork.

He's had some shows in Denver and I just wanted to share his cool stuff!

I believe he's got this color scheme for the dg basket... this is my favorite.

There's much more to peruse on his site and if you want to see Ian in action - check out this video.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Uncle Rico's Fieldwork

I'm not an expert, I am not a tournament player and I certainly don't want to pretend I'm better than I am. I'm just a guy who wants to get better. I spend time almost everyday in an empty field like Uncle Rico and I have found that it has helped my game far more than actually playing rounds. In 6 months I've gone from absolutely zero skill and zero confidence to having some skill and feeling pretty confident in my backhand shots.
My brother calls me Uncle Rico.

No doubt, if you play rounds as time allows, you will improve. But to make big strides in your game it's going to take more than playing rounds, it will take... queue up Allen Iverson, "I'm talking about practice."

I'm not wired very well for slow progress and in terms of disc golf, it's meant I do tons of fieldwork. Also, I don't have time to play a round everyday, but I can almost always squeeze in 45-60 minutes of fieldwork. There's no right or wrong path to get better - there's just doing it and having the patience to correct the bad habits.

When I started doing daily field work, I basically went out into a soccer field and tried to throw every disc from one goal to the other. Max distance throws everyday for months. Ultimately it was pretty fruitless and left huge holes in my game because not every throw is a bomb. I did learn to whip my arm pretty good and I can throw pretty well from a stand still now, which is a benefit - but that's ALL I worked on. It wasn't until I started reading that I started to realize that I needed to work on other things like throwing hyzers and anhyzers and various length shots. The following video started my wheels turning on putting together a specific regime.

The pec drill. Wow, talk about a humbling drill. If you can imagine standing in a soccer field basically throwing lame ducks about 50' in front of a bunch of middle schoolers... yeah, it was quality stuff. 50 throws from the pectoral before I added the reach back for another 50. Immediate benefit from this drill was that I was forced to keep my hand on the outside of the disc in front of my chest.  If you're not accelerating the disc, it shows and there's no way to cheat it. Another immediate benefit is that it forces you to feel where the disc should be on a regular throw, which is in close to your chest.

Next up I go into what I think of as a weight transfer drill, and I'll let this do the talking:

I tend to focus on throwing about 150' for a good warm up and then adding more distance. I eventually get to driving drills, but for this drill I just aim for something about out 150', 200, then 250' out and get about 50-75 throws where I'm fully weighting the back leg and adjusting just my reach-back and pivoting on my heal. I'm doing all flat releases on this drill and just focusing on smoothness and stepping through.

Within the last month I've added thumbers and forehands to the drills twice a week. I start out throwing really short 50' thumbers really easy - until I've really warmed up my shoulder. Then I power them up to about 150-200'. Fantastic shot and one that I am very happy to have started developing.

Next I go to 150' anhyzers and hyzers without a run-up. About 25 throws of each and then I try another 25 with a run-up.

Finally if it's a distance day (I take a break from throwing distance every other day when I'm doing daily fieldwork) I will throw about 25-40 max distance shots. I do quite a bit less because it does take it's toll on my body and I want to be throwing well when I'm practicing not getting sloppy.

For the sake of easy reading my field work breaks down kinda like this:

  1. Pec Drill or Closed Shoulder Drill: 50x stand still (Power Grip)
  2. 50-250' Standstill 50x-flat, 30x-anhyzer, 50x-hyzer (Climo Grip)
  3. 250-300' X-Step 25x-flat, 25x-anhyzer, 25x-hyzer (Power Grip) 
  4. 150-250' Forehand 25x flat
  5. Max D X-Step: 350'+ 25-40 (Power Grip)
So most field work days I'm trying to get in 200-250 throws - sometimes more if I am doing a max distance day. I like to throw at a 300' soccer field that has a few goals around it for aiming.

I putt pretty much everyday for about 15-20 minutes. I don't do every drill each day - I mix it up and typically focus more on hyzer shots than anhyzers. I work on pec drills or closed shoulder drills if I am struggling with getting a good hit and as a way to reinforce driving my elbow and keeping my hand on the outside of the disc.

It may be the nature of forehands - it tears my hands up when I throw them over and over so I usually throw less of them. Needless to say, it's a hugely valuable shot and one that I am slowly adding to my routine.

That's it... nothing that special, just a basic routine that forces me run through a variety of shots and doesn't bore me to death. I also do these exercises every other day: pushups, planks (front and side) and a few yoga poses that work shoulders, core and hips. I take about 10 minutes to do all these exercises and I try not to cheat.

If you've got a routine, please feel free to share it in the comments - I'd love to hear about it.

Happy throwing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All work and no play...

I've got only fear for throwing the roller. I fear throwing it in a field that doesn't have a fence surrounding it. It's like having a greyhound off leash in a field rife with bunnies.  Rollers are half magic, half craziness. When you see somebody throw a roller that weaves in and out of trees and then does a loop around the basket before coming to rest leaned against the pole, I call that guy a Gandalf. Keep your eyes peeled for a hobbit or a dragon.

Friggen wizards.

Luckily I don't play many courses that benefit greatly from the roller. If I did, then I'd probably dig into them more - but there's already enough shots that are on my list of "Needs More Fieldwork".

Winter has punished Denver for a couple weeks now. High of 11 a couple days ago. ELEVEN DEGREES? Yeah, downright balmy by sub arctic standards. I pushed out to do field work a few times once it warmed up to 22. I guess it was a good way to practice falling on my ass and eventually throwing with a mitten on.

Today my brother and I made a lunch-time pilgrimage to Paco for some 39 degree (toasty!) field work. We got a few rounds of closed shoulder drills in and some "stand still" drills. Then my bro submarined my Surge and we spent too much time kicking snow around a field.

I moved my basket into the basement and have been trying to squeeze in some 18' putts between a door frame and the clothes drier. Next I hung an old blanket from the ceiling and have been throwing into that... the kids love it, I mean THROWING DISCS IN THE HOUSE?! Awesome. No idea if these throws would be good or bad, but I'm guessing they're all 500' line drives.

Going from playing daily rounds, lunch time field work and late night putting sessions to trying to putt in my basement without knocking over a stack of laundry is rough. Typically ski season has me out in the garage waxing skis and monitoring snow storms like a hawk, but I am having a very hard time with channeling my ski bum motivation.

Perhaps it's time I unleash my inner retiree and peruse some winter properties down in Southern Florida?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Patience. NOW.

I was watching a MurderMike youtube video where the Rico brothers interviewed Ken Climo. Very interesting to hear that the champ has had to work to adjust to a more modern game of big arms and overstable drivers. But something that really stuck with me from the interview was Climo's answer to what is one of the single most important aspects to a young player's game. "Patience."

"Overall, through the long haul... patience."

Patience? Huh? I was expecting tenacity, balls of steel or maybe hard work. Patience?!

I sat there mulling on it for the next few days, whenever I had a little quiet time.

Am I patient with my game? Am I patient with my expectations of disc golf?

What does that really mean? I don't have years or decades of time in the sport like Steve Rico and Ken Climo, perhaps it means something to them it doesn't mean to me?

With a little self reflection I realized that I'm not patient. It didn't take much reflecting either. I started playing in May 2013 and I have been rushing to improve everyday since then. I don't want to be patient - I want to be better NOW! Longer drives, better putting, accurate upshots - practice practice practice!

Then I thought about all the blow ups I've had where I hit a tree, another tree, throw OB, roll into a river and I get frustrated and throw worse and worse until I basically just give up - angry with myself and unhappy.

I will watch pro tournaments on youtube and actually feel disheartened when I see the best in the world drain 50' putts over and over, racking up birdies like it's nothing and I consider that from 50' - I am good for maybe 1 of 10. MAYBE. How will I ever be great?!

Hold the reigns for a second there partner, I don't even have a PDGA number. I have played one casual doubles tournament. Why am I even in this head-space of worrying about it? I had made the mistake of going full retard.

I've been playing for so short of an amount of time, but here I am thinking that I should be better than I am. Clearly I've lost my friggen mind - and patience hasn't really been an ideal that I've nurtured.

A week rolled by and as I was playing a round by myself I went back to that thought and it started to take on a new meaning. The game of disc golf is an unpredictable game of mistakes. If I don't want to embrace that fact, then I should do myself a favor and quit.  Wild skips, insane rolls, chains that spit out perfect putts, wind that comes out of nowhere to push you into a lake are just a few of the things I see every round. It's an imperfect game that cannot be perfected. (Not to mention gravitational fluctuations that surround me all the time!)
I can hear people objecting, "Paul McBeth, Will Schusterick and Dave Feldberg play perfect games - 550' drives, 100' putts, world championships!"

They are great, no question. They have the ultimate skill-set at this sport. I'm saying that the game itself can't be mastered. All of those guys have missed gimme putts, thrown OB, and had space-time warp to have a disc pass directly through the chains. Period. It's going to happen to everybody who plays the game.

Ultimately, it takes patience to love a game for it's inherent imperfections rather than curse it. So what can you do in the face of throwing a good shot and having it slow roll 50' past everybody else and into a water hazard? You control your attitude, take a deep breath, smile and think of the champ's words. "To be a great player, you have to have patience."

All this zen shit, man, what the hell do I actually do? Well, how about some more zen shit?

Confidence, Staying Present and Having Fun

Confident shots are ALWAYS better than timid shots. That doesn't mean that a confident shot is always a good shot, but getting tense and tightening your muscles will never throw as smooth as when you're relaxed. Throwing confident shots doesn't mean taking risky shots either. It means taking the shot that is in your skill-set, regardless of:
  1. your score
  2. your opponents score
  3. what happened on the last hole (or what's coming up on the next hole)
  4. if you're playing alone or in a tournament
  5. you're about to lose to your little brother if you blow this up-shot
Step up to your lie, go through your pre-shot checklist: good stance, visualize the flight, whatever you do - shut your inner chatter down and relax and trust your instincts and make your brain get out of the way of letting the disc go in the chains.

Staying present... if I could just put that in a bottle and sell it! The best way I can personally stay present is tied directly to why I'm out playing in the first place: to have fun. You can have fun and play great or you can NOT have fun and play great. You've got options!
But do you want to look back on an afternoon, a weekend, a year, a decade of playing disc golf and realize that you were not having fun while you were playing? Does anybody want to play with the guy who plays great and is having no fun, cursing, and kicking his bag? I don't have disc golfer's digits in my phone who isn't fun to play disc golf with... why the hell would I?

Once the disc is out of your hand, you move on.

But what about when you miss a 10' putt or roll 40' out of bounds - turning a bird into a double bogie? It happened. It's done and over. There's no fixing it and thinking about it will not help you.

At the end of your round - if you realize you were not doing something well, then you have something to practice. Allowing frustration into your game is not allowed because the only shot you get to care about it the NEXT one. If you are staying present - forgetting what just happened - it also lets you have more fun, smile at the fickle game of disc golf and stay loose for the next shot.

Does the outcome of the game matter to your next throw? Should it matter? Are you throwing this next shot in order to affect the outcome or to throw the best throw you can? If your mental game is affected by the potential outcome - you're not staying present and not throwing the best you can. Allow yourself to play each game like the outcome doesn't matter one lick.

It doesn't mean that you don't care. But getting to point where you're playing the best rounds you can - will mean that you let go of the outcome.

But what if the game is on the line? The big tournament is down to the last hole?! Your little brother will beat you AGAIN!? If you win or lose - you're still the same person. You'll play another round.
You'll win and lose and all that matters of the outcome - is how you handle yourself.

Remember you're out there to have fun so... happy disc'ing amigos.