Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwing Rollers in the Wind

The wind is howling today so I figured I'd take the opportunity to work on my rollers. Sit back and enjoy this comprehensive guide to throwing rollers in the wind!

Video link (if you are seeing the Feldberg Video above):
Now many of you are going to want to ask about my grip in the above video. I went with a "1 finger push grip". What I lack in control I gain in wind alignment and distance. It's key to have 30-40mph gusts and a ROUND disc. Square and even rhombus shaped discs are not going to handle these conditions very well.

Okay, so beyond that... I have no clue. I threw a forehand that got out about 150' before coming right back at me 100'. I threw a backhand that ended up 50' BEHIND me. 

Rollers went sideways and then backwards, then stopped to mocked me before taking off into the air.

So when it's really windy, I'd say just lower your expectations, go to the bar or just be as awesome as Dave is...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A few disc reviews and SWEET!

Alright, so a long weekend of mountain biking in Moab, Utah meant that my freshly purchased discs sat un-touched for a few days. Not for long! I cracked them open, ran out into the freezing sleet in my front yard and promptly blasted my new Anode down the block.

Moab is still gorgeous, just had to ride my bike around it to verify.

Last week I ordered up some new plastic:
MVP Proton Anode Medium (170) 
MVP Proton Anode Soft (170)
MVP Proton Axis (176)
Innova Champion Katana (175)

I really wanted to try out the MVP Anode after reading some reviews. After throwing the medium and soft for a few days, I'm completely convinced that the only difference between soft and medium is the feel in the hand. I found them within 5-10' of each other over and over after throwing them both. They have the distinct feel of an Aviar, so if your hands like an Aviar (deep rim) then you'll like MVP Anodes. Smaller fingered folks (t-rex hands) might want to look elsewhere (Vibram).

They are going to take some getting used to for me for driving approaches. They have a nice glide right off the get-go, but I'm over throwing them and they're turning right on me too much. A heavier weight might help to fight off that, I don't know though. I throw a 171 Vibram Ridge with the same arm speed and it goes dead straight. Perhaps it's just going to take some adjustment.

For putting, I'm liking them. I have been throwing a couple Classic Aviars in my putting practice, so the feel in the hand is something I am familiar with. If you want to find out if you will like an Anode before dropping the coin, try a DX Aviar for $8 to see if you like the shape. Similar glide, similar shape, similar putters. They are very unique looking and even though I have them in Proton green - they show up super bright in the grass. Very easy to find.

The Proton Axis is just... wow. It's like pulling a perfectly seasoned max-weight Roc outta the box. So far, I'm completely impressed. Just a consistently straight flyer. If I max out the throw, it'll hang a bit further right but never flip - and always comes back with a bit of left fade. Feels fantastic in my hand and I love that mid-range glide. I was able to throw it about 280-290' dead straight with just a mellow fade at the end.

I had lost my max weight Roc when I ordered the Axis, then some kind soul found it and I was able to get it back... with a big old chunk of plastic missing where a mower had apparently run it over. I wanted something that could take it's place and I truly believe this is a nice option.

The Katana. Uhhg. Well, I lost my favorite max weight Katana being an idiot (it fell out of my bag and I didn't realize it until I got home). Champion plastic definitely feels like it's going to require a  beat in period. Right now it's not got me feeling the love. Gotta beat it up a bit and then I have no doubt that it'll be back in the heavy rotation.

The Katana is absolutely stellar WHEN I can get it in the air for long enough. Lucky for me, my home course has a couple holes that are down hill and that helps me out. If and when I get a full snap on it, it'll go left, back right and then fade left... with zero anhyzer. Just a flat hard release and it does it's thing. Very nice thing to have in the bag.

I want to give a nod to a disc that I absolutely love. Discraft Esp Surge. Holy mother I love this disc for drives. If you're looking for a stable driver that will take some anhyzer, slowly flip back and glide for days, look no further. I like it in a 172 weight - it doesn't take a huge arm to get it humming and I almost never overthrow it. I better not lose mine.


Now for the SWEET part: I freaking won a Buzzz from Discraft! I signed up through my Google+ account and sure enough I saw my name at the top of the winner's list today! They hooked me up with a code that'll get me a Buzzz of unknown plastic and weight. I already have a Z Buzzz in the bag and a ProD Buzzz that was one of the first discs that my brother got me.

Sign up - and I hope you win!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Forehand Break Through.

About 2-3 weeks ago, I started to really put some effort into developing my forehand into something more than a disaster.

My brother has a gorgeous backhand anhyzer that he can float down with a consistent "S" shape over and over. Slow, arcing and consistent and he drains 100' shots with it. I've spent a ton of field time trying to get that shot consistent and it's just not. I'm spraying them all over the place. So in the meantime, I'm trying to get that forehand dialed.

Okay, so I'm gonna give 100% of the credit for this break through to Sarah Hokom (the side arm  / forehand section starts about 16:20) in and watching this video last night I was singularly intrigued by her anecdote about a softball player who she taught to throw side arm.

She says (and I'll paraphrase) the girl would mime picking up a ground ball before her throw. 

DO IT. Grab a disc, go outside and give it a try!

I was jaw dropped at the immediate change in my throws that I was making today on my lunch break. I dip my upper body to the ground almost touching the disc to the ground as if I was scooping up a grounder, take one more shuffle step, which would be the cocking the disc back... and then the release like your tossing an easy throw to 1st base. I hit 250' dead straight 15' off the ground with my buzzz. Every single throw was pretty much on target, some were wobblier than others, but coming out of this stance - they all seemed to correct themselves.

The thing that is finally clicking is that arm speed has almost nothing to do with forehands. The snap, the karate chop, whatever you want to call it - needs to be where the energy is coming from. Coupled with the body movement of getting low and twisting the hips into it like you would in baseball... all I can say is wow. 

I have never thrown a forehand consistently 200' - and I just threw about 50 of them. Thanks Sarah Hokom!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Compulsive or Obsessive?

Let's roll the clock back just 5 months to early May 2013. I remember my brother talking about disc golf and that is about it. It wasn't in my life - it wasn't my thing. At some point, I thought - I should try to play again, it would be fun... why not? I played a bit in high school and college (20 years ago). Perhaps 15-20 rounds with friends in Grapevine, TX. It's my brother's thing and he's amazing at disc golf, so I wasn't concerned that a four thousand pound gorilla was about to setup shop on my back.

I think the first time I played with my brother, it was a round with his tags buddies and they were kind enough to suffer a complete and total newb. I lost one of my brother's discs in a river and then I lost another guy's disc in the same river. By all accounts, I sucked. 

I would lean way back and throw like I was trying to hit a baseball out of the park, so the disc would fly up - stop and head straight left. That's assuming I didn't just line drive it into a tree or the ground.

There's something about really sucking... being completely futile and just stinking up the joint that made me hungry for more. I could not just be that bad and let it stand.

What's really fun about disc golf for me is that I've been able to improve. I have no aspirations of playing tournaments. When my brother asked me if I wanted a tag to play informal competitions - I thought about for a bit and said no. I wanted to prove that I could do this before I add that level of frustration and pressure.

I know myself enough to know that I am obsessive about things that I get passionate about. 15 years ago, I got obsessive about rock climbing and spent every free hour planning Yosemite trips, multiple day big wall climbs up El Capitan and long back country climbs. I got crazy about big mountain skiing, ended up going to Alaska and Switzerland to climb mountains and ski back down them. I got obsessive about mountain biking and ended up riding 4-5 days a week for a year and half (still doing that).

I know as well as anybody what kind of freaking nutballer I am when I get obsessed. I doubt my brother had any inclination as to what was happening - but he assures me that he's just as obsessed as I am.

It took me probably 2-3 weeks of poking the bear, playing rounds with my brother and asking him 5 questions per hole about backhands, forehands, rollers, putting, rules, you name it... before the trickle became a flood. 

I didn't even want to tell my brother how much I was practicing. Starting in June, I would throw on every lunch break. My mountain bike sat idle as I ran out to play a round after work. Before work I would putt for 15 minutes and then play 9 holes. Everyday. Then, on the way home from work I stop at a school right by my house and throw at the soccer field. 3 times a day: morning, lunch and after work I am doing some form of practice.

At one point, I googled "how much disc golf can I safely play" and then ignored all the threads about NOT doing exactly what I was doing.

Again, for me, this is normal behavior. When I started playing hockey with some work mates, I practiced NON-STOP. For many winters, I had a standing Thursday morning dawn patrol all winter long, whether I had a partner or not. Dawn patrol is when you climb a mountain before dawn so that you can ski a few runs before work. I'd leave the house at 4am for those and show up to work at 10am. I swear to god, I would bring my touring ski boots to work and hike up a mesa in them (on dirt) on my lunch breaks so that my feet would be accustomed to lots of climbing.

I'm closing in on 5 months of playing non-stop disc golf. I've probably played about 100 rounds of disc golf. When I can't get a game in, I'm just as happy to be alone in a soccer field working on my shots. I played a game 4 days ago while it was raining, alone, and cold.

I'm happy though, and at the core of the enjoyment is this wonderful feeling of blasting a disc and having it do what you want it to (or sometimes not). But what keeps the fire burning is seeing the improvement. I have some idea that this fire will not burn like this forever... but for now the fire is keeping me warm. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Frosty cold ones

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these discs
from the swift completion of their appointed rounds
I have two kids. When you have kids you face some new situations.

For example, a few years back, I was walking into the front doors of my local Target. Just as I walk in, I look up and see myself on their TV monitoring system that lets you know that CIVILIAN - YOU ARE BEING WATCHED. 

In that split second, I see something terrible.

I look down from the monitor to the thigh of my jeans. There sits an unmistakable crusty and amoeba shaped... splooge.

What had happened was my daughter had burped up some milk and I had failed to notice it. It dried and remained un-noticed and nobody in my family mentioned this to me.

What LOOKED like happened... was that I ejaculated all over my leg and then, like a world class pervert, couldn't be bothered to clean it up before heading to Target.

I say that, but the truth is that this wouldn't be a human sized ejaculation. This would be if I'd just finished giving a hand jibber to a baleen whale.

What's with this long and non-disc golf related preamble? When you have kids - your time gets diced up quickly and some days all that you are left with is 30 minutes of free time at 7am... in a field covered in snow to practice putting with frozen fingers and snow filled putters.

That said, whatever doubts I've had about this 30 days of putting are long gone. My putting (in games and practice) is getting substantially better, my confidence at 25' is feeling so much higher. I still miss from 25' - but I'm hitting 5/6 shots in my first round of practice.

I've been breaking a Mark Ellis rule pretty badly though. I am using 6 putters, 2 aviars of different weight, 3 vibrams (all different models) and a Lat64 Pure 175. Part of this is due to me being unsure what putters I really like the most - because I'm still trying to figure that out.

Aviars seem to have the most glide of the bunch, but the Vibrams have a great feel in my hand. The Lat64 Pure is just dead straight and that's nice. At some point pretty soon, I'm gonna have to just stick with 1 putter, but for now I'll just break the rules.

Day 12 : (10/21/2013)
Round 1: 25' mark is feeling good. Great even.
Round 2: 25' mark is feeling less good, but still not bad.

Day 13 : (10/22/2013)
Round 1: Spent some time doing the straddle put. It's still more consistent at 20'.
Break: 100' forehands and snappy short back hands
Round 2: As usual, round 2 feels much harder.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More cold putting.

Just me and these two guys, who I've named Steve and Perry.

Managed to get over to Paco Sanchez in time for a chilly 9 holes after work yesterday. Ran into a couple guys who play tags and joined up with them, both very nice guys. Enjoyable round - felt like my approach shots were really strong and helped me to save par 3 on a couple wonky drives. And since I'm doing my 30 days of putting, my putting sucked.

Cold hands are turning into a running theme. Cold hands in the morning, cold hands in the evening and it's snowing outside - so I'm guessing cold hands in the future. Since I have the hands of a 13 year old Korean girl, I tend to get cold quick.

All this putting and I'm still missing 20' game time shots. I recall Mark Ellis saying something along the lines of "You'll want to judge this program a week in. Don't do it... just stick with it." It's hard not to feel grumpy when you're putting 30 minutes a day and not seeing noticeable improvements - but I am seeing SOME improvements. It's best described as LESS anxiety about taking the shot from a tough distance.

I've looked at the pin so many times from this distance that I know what's about to happen. Currently though, what tends to happen is I fail to give myself the full putting routine during a game - feeling a little rushed because other people are waiting. Usually it's the release, but sometimes it's something as simple as lining up my arm. 

So I don't get into how many page views my blog has (because it's typically nothing to get bent outta shape about). I will sometimes post it on reddit & dgcoursereview, hoping to share it with people, since nobody follows blogs and because I feel a bit strange putting long rambling posts on forums. I guess the last post got some visibility because, as of this morning, I'm at  just under 6000 page views on that one post. That feels pretty good! It got a few conversations started here and here. And I told my brother (the bearded character) that he's internet famous.

Putting Recap (warning, this is boring).

Day 8 (Lunchtime Redo - Rain stopped): (10/14/2013)
Round 1: No basket - used a basket ball pole. Much harder to get a feel for putting.
Break: Forehands, forehands, forehands.
Round 2: Finished up w/ a the feeling that I gotta get a portable practice basket.

Day 9 : (10/15/2013)
Round 1: Perhaps because I've moved out to about 20+'  - the straddle is not as consistent as my foreward stance. I stayed in the forward stance the whole round and felt very good.
Break: short break only because I was running late.
Round 2: Worked with the straddle a bit and it still feels MORE consistent from 15' - so I might just use it for close in shots where I don't have to generate as much power. Extension of the shoulder, pointing the fingers at the basket and kicking your back leg up have made a big difference in my 20-25' putts.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The hardest part.

Let's be honest. We all want to hit an ace, but it's sorta like losing your virginity.

Good for you - glad it happened - I don't really need to be hit with the dirty details.

I'm a virgin. I've gotten to 3rd base, or whatever hitting the top of the pin and skipping away 50' would be? Might be jerking off for all I know. I've come close, but have not sealed the deal.

When you play lots of rounds, you meet lots of people. Guys join your group, you join others - it's social and people LOVE to talk. Which almost always is great.

Until you meet THAT GUY. The ultimate dick waving braggart. I met THAT GUY as he was wading through a river looking for a disc. One of probably 20 that he'd rained down on a 200' down-hill pin that he'd setup camp on. 

This alone doesn't bother me one bit. I regularly setup on a quiet pin to practice. It was the immediate onslaught of braggadocio that he layed on so thick I could barely breath that bothered me.

He tee'd off with us (throwing about 5 shots in a row) and he had one nice skip that probably put him within 20' feet of the pin. Everybody said "Nice shot" and then somebody in our small group managed to put their shot within 2' of the pin. 

I guess since he didn't have the best shot, he felt the need to expound upon his greatness.

"I'm basically the 2nd ranked player in the state!" he tells me.

"Oh yeah, are you in the PDGA?" I ask politely.

"Nah, I don't have the funds for that." 

"Do you play tags?" I query.

"I will probably do that next year. I've hit 32 aces in the last 18 months... I'm throwing about 600'... but right now I'm just working on getting my mid ranges out to 400'. I've beat pretty much everybody."

Ahhh, I realize that he's the 2nd ranked player in the state... in his mind. Wonderful, it's good to have a positive self esteem. I respond that it's all very impressive and we'll probably be moving on to the next hole and to have a nice day. 

But that was not to be, as he decides to join us with his girlfriend in tow, who is demanding that they go home because she has a headache.

Smash cut to the next and final tee pad. We all tee off at the 375' straight and pretty boring hole. If you can throw flat and get some snap - you're in birdie distance. 

I'll say that his run up was impressive - he was REALLY running up - but he was bombing mid-ranges all over the damn place. Not the skills of a #2 or #200 player in the state... and he threw and threw and threw. Disc after disc after disc. I assume he was under the impression that he was putting on a clinic.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity he winged one that crossed the street that borders this hole and went into a neighbor's backyard.Thank god.

Last I saw, he was knocking on the door - requesting his disc back. Very very impressive dick waving. Not so impressive personal skills.

So long story short, if and when I ever lose my ace virginity - I hope somebody is there to witness it, so that I can discretely pay them $5 for each time they can bring up my world class ace in the future.

Damn you winter.

Putting practice. I have to do my putting practice. MUST DO PUTTING.

The wind kicks up to the point that putting from 10' away turns into an experiment in wind tunnel aerodynamics. 

I can only laugh as one gust pins my gimme putt to the ground and the next one is lofted 25' away.

"This is still good practice for windy conditions" I mutter to myself as my fingers go numb. 

A slight drizzle turns into something meaner and I realize that finishing the first 15 minutes of my putting with confidence session might not be in the cards.

I run to the car - getting pelted with 1/2 rain & 1/2 sleet and jump in just before the hammer hits.


Day 6: (10/12/2013)
Round 1: Felt average at best.
Round 2: Felt even worse than average at best.

Day 7: (10/13/2013)
Round 1: Started strong - switched to forward stance and actually felt stronger.
Break: Threw 50' floaters with Noah, my 7 year old son. Little dude actually drained one!
Round 2: Felt okay, but I swear to god a wasp unloaded on my finger 1/2 way through and it HURT. Decided to relocate for some field work.

Day 8: (10/14/2013)
Round 1: 7.5 minutes of wind and then sleet.
Break: Ran to car.
Round 2: Drove to work in deluge of sleet.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Putting With Confidence: Update

Firstly, here's a little inspiration video...

Five days complete on the Putting With Confidence exercise. Let me start by saying this isn't EASY

Putting for 30 minutes is not only mentally tough - but it's physically tough - and I consider myself to be in pretty good shape (non-smoker, not over weight, can play 18 without hurting). I can feel the butt, leg, and lower back muscles in the morning. Today I picked a practice pin that is on a hill. I really noticed a difference in my stance on a hill - and it definitely affects my putting. By the end, my feet, calves and thighs were feeling it.

Since I am sticking with a straddle putt, the uphill leg has to be more bent in order to keep your upper body straight - and I felt pretty solid with my predominant right leg being straight, left leg bent - but the other direction stuff just felt off. Was not as consistent.

I have done this game for the last 2 days now that I find very helpful - and it adds some "game-time" pressure to it.

Similar to the Scott Papa game (found here) I use extra discs to mark my spots. I have 4 discs that all start stamp side down. They're all about 10' from the pin. 

I use 3 putters for this game.

Make all 3 putts I get to flip over that station's disc and move onto the next station. 
Miss 1, the disc stays stamp down.
Miss 2, I have 1 immediate chance to re-do the round. Collect the putters, try again. If I can get 2+ putts in, I move on - otherwise the station gets pushed closer to the pin.
Miss 3, the station gets pushed closer to the pin.

If you come to a station that's stamp up.
Make all 3, you get to push the station back.
Make 2, it stays as is.
Make 1, it gets flipped upside down.

This game allows me to get solid enough on a tough distance so that I can work on it - without being at a distance I'm going to be missing a bunch. Also, if I miss the 1st putt it puts the pressure on you to go 2/2 other wise you have to re-do the round.

Also, it's a really amazing feeling to push a disc out further - then drain 3 of 3 shots. When you're close to the end of your 15 minute session and you've got your stations pushed out to where you're holding your own... it's confidence inspiring to know that if you approach to inside that area - you WILL make the shot.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Happy Halloween(ish) and the Mighty Forehand

The Pineapple Skull of Chain Death! (Vibram Summit 167 M)

October has arrived and that means a few things for the avid disc golfer. No longer are we able to lolly gag out of work at 6pm and knock out 18 holes before you even have to think about losing light! Those days are long gone and soon it'll be dark by the time I leave the office at 5:00.

As of now, 6:00pm and dusk is settling over Denver and with the time change looming that will mean I am officially screwed for playing after work. Morning rounds are still doable and I'm still enjoying that. I played an early morning 18 with my brother yesterday at Johnny Roberts. Considering how bad the flooding was just about a month ago - the course is in great shape. I'm very grateful to (I believe) Ronnie Ross for working to get the pins back in.

I spent my lunch break in a church parking lot that's about 50' from my office parking lot and always empty during the week working on 100-200' approach shots and my very unimpressive forehand. 

I've come to realize that having a good forehand is absolutely invaluable. In the morning round I stood on the tee-pad on hole 2 - which almost everybody I play with throws an RHBH anhyzer that has to be thrown absolutely perfectly or you catch trees/bushes along the left side. I asked my brother if he ever throws it forehand and we both stood there realizing that it made a ton of sense and that nobody throws if FH. 

I put the FH about 15' from the pin. We both bust up laughing because it was like a revelation! We discussed FH quite a bit and he said what I believe alot of players feel... that forehand throws have some kind of unspoken stigma. It's like people believe it's a weaker throw. There's not the dramatic X step runup, there's no MANLY reach back and whip like follow through. It's just a step, flick and that's it.

Well, stigma or no stigma - I'm practicing the throw more often and really happy to have it for right turning shots. 

So yesterday (remember, morning round 18 - lunch break practice throws), I decided to get my Mark Ellis 30 minutes in after work at Paco. I was already beat, but I committed to myself to do everyday for 30 days. I do my 15 minutes... get a text from my buddy Dylan who shows up at Paco. Ahhhhh, why not!!? Throw another 7 holes with him and I was done, cooked, absolutely knackered.

Highlight shots from the day: my brother hits a 80-90' putt in the morning. Dylan hits a 80-90' putt in the evening. 

Hopefully playing with these dudes who can sink it from the cheap seats starts rubbing off on me.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Putting With Confidence

Mark Ellis, disc golf pro / wizard / promoter,  got me intrigued enough with this video to try his routine.  Very simple: 30 days in a row, 2 sessions of 15 minutes. 

Put from where you make it.

Any style of putting you want - good mechanics are a plus, but basically whatever putt you want to improve.

The people that have done it swear by it. He swears by it.

I am already practicing almost everyday anyways - might as well try a formal routine. I'm using the straddle position with a pitch putt, which I've blogged about here.

Mark's thoughts on putting in wind during your practice session:
... my thinking is to move as close as is needed to make your putts. :) You don't have to make ALL your putts to improve your skills and with them your confidence. Everybody misses some putts. If you make most of your close putts you can live with it, even in competition against fine players.

Putting is not like free throws in basketball where the conditions are always the same. We face different conditions on every putt: distance, wind, obstacles, playing surface, risk past the basket, etc. So practice needs to be constantly changing as well. If the conditions make putting harder then move close enough so you can hit solid metal consistently and don't move farther away until your success justifies it.

Some players have special weaknesses. For years I couldn't straddle putt well. Well, more candidly, I sucked. So when I went through this program, which I have done several times through the years, I needed to move closer for straddles. Through practice I overcame my troubles with straddles. Now I straddle any time it is the most logical choice and my odds are as good as with staggered putts.

Really a straddle is no harder than a stagger. It is just different and mostly a mental thing. Putting in the wind IS much harder than dead air. The margin of error is smaller. The penalty for missing is greater. Putting in strong and/or swirling and/or gusting winds can be brutal. All the more reason to cement your skills and confidence from short range, where you need it most.

To all of you in the program I wish you good motivation. Putting woes can be overcome with diligence. The program is not a short term fix, it is a long term benefit.

Day 1: (10/7/2013)
Round 1: Started at 10' - felt good, not missing. Felt good from 15-18' - rare misses maybe 2 out in 10 minutes. Noticed that if I didn't do the routine just right, I'd often put the disc a bit low/high/side - but still in. Pushed out to 20' was hitting 2 out of 3 discs - misses were in the front of the basket, so I moved back in to 15' and finished making all of them.
Break: Felt really good to stop putting! Really does take a bunch of concentration to putt.
Round 2: Kind of hard to get my mind to focus after about 5 minutes of putting. Started missing what felt like a gimme 15' shot when my mind wandered or I would see somebody walk by. Finished on a different pin that is on slight hill. Felt good to end with every disc in the chains.

Day 2: (10/8/2013)
Round 1: Started out very strong to 20'. Think I only missed 1x until I pushed out to 24'. Was missing 1 of 3 from 24'... back to 20' and finished feeling a little wobbly.
Break: Threw some mid-range (250-275') and a ended up hyzering my Surge into deep grass. Took too long to find, added frustration. Saw the parks guys out mowing - thank god, it's a jungle out there.
Round 2: Failed to get much concentration back after losing/finding disc. Finally got dialed at 20' again, but only from 2 of 3 stations. Definitely had a mental block at one of the stations for some reason... ended well, draining all my last shots from 20.

Note: I have formalized my pre-putt ritual and then say "Drain it." in my head which is the trigger for the release. Definitely putting very strong from 7 steps (20-21') but 8 steps (24-25') is not automatic by any means.

Day 3: (10/9/2013)
Round 1: 15 minutes at Johnny Roberts
Break: Threw a full round with my brother. Putted pretty poorly.
Round 2: Ran out to Paco to do a full 30 minutes, did 15... Ran into Dylan, who wanted to throw the front 9. Putted very strong. Approach shots were best ever. Also threw 2 big (400+' drives that stayed up seemingly forever).

Day 4: (10/10/2013)
Round 1: Started very strong, struggling at 25'
Break: Mellow approach annies. Feeling consistent at 100'.
Round 2: Felt a little wobbly and then went to shit. Ended very exhausted.

Day 5: (10/11/2013)
Round 1: Got in a pretty good zone. Went a very long time without missing. 8 steps out (~24') still a tough distance.
Break: Approach shots up hill and some mid-range hyzer for 10 minutes. Forehand is a disaster from >100'.
Round 2: Felt a little wobbly coming back to putting, got in a strong zone for about 5 minutes, hitting 3/3 from 24' a few times in a row. Then it was much less consistent. Side-hill shots worked me pretty good.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The setup shot, aka finding an advantage.

After my last post -"Perspective" - I wanted to spend a second to consider this aspect.

Good players think about and plan out how they are going to attack the course before they ever throw their first shot. If the best angle to the hole for the second shot is only 100’ away from the tee box, tossing your putter to put yourself in that position will give you an advantage over those that don’t have that knowledge.
This is something that I absolutely struggle with. I'll often times see a good place to park it for a much easier 2nd shot - but I will throw past it thinking I'll be able to throw it just a bit further and get around that next stand of trees.

Let me get into a specific example that I regularly screw up.

The red line is the risky shot that can easily put you behind trees,
the green is the shorter shot with less risk.

Hole 2 at Paco Sanchez in the "A" placement is 630' and has one big set of trees just in front of the tee pad - followed by another stand of trees behind that. Throwing my biggest RHBH hyzer I can sometimes clear the 2nd stand of trees or put it just enough to the right of them that I have a straight 200-250' shot at the pin. Sometimes. And sometimes I put into the trees or just enough to block myself from any kind of straight shot at the pin. It's a pretty unnecessary gamble.

If I want to be in the pin in 3-4 throws - then I should be looking to put it by the C pin which will most likely be a shorter throw by about 50' and it's much easier at getting a clean look at getting to the pin. 

Yet most guys - myself included will let our egos get in the way, going for the 400' hyzer, risking OB (the sidewalk) - tree strokes if you land in an evergreen. It's something I have been just recently realizing too, because it's rare to see somebody throwing to the right - which is a shorter throw most likely. 

I'm trying to play holes with my eyes trained to find the risk and avoid it.  The way I see it these 2 scenarios aren't equal: a bogey and a birdie VERSUS  two pars. Bogeying a hole not only makes you feel worse and less confident - it will often give your competitor a mental boost. Sure your score is the same, but that bogey just killed off a birdie. Par, par... might not be as exciting, but you're staying inside your game - you're probably feeling more confident and that's a very good thing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


This was posted on dgCourseReview back in April 2011 by SlowRoll. Might look like a wall of text, but very interesting reading. (Original Thread)
I’ve had a little time to allow last weeks experience to digest and I wanted to share a few things with you all. To some of you this will be a boring read because you are already ahead of me in your advancement as a player. To those individuals I would ask that you simply understand that I am only trying to help newer players understand what they really need to know to be successful, and that I spent hours of my life writing this piece to try and help them grow.
Last weekend was my first experience playing in the AM1 (Advanced) division at the Amateur Championships at Bowling Green. For us amateurs that live in the south, this is the Super Bowl of our discgolf season. All the big fish from little ponds all over the country swim out to sea and enjoy golfing with one another. This coming together as players gives us an opportunity to see how much we have grown since last year, and helps us know what areas we still need to work on in the future. This yearly self assessment can be painful, but usually it is just our pride that takes the real beating. For me, having the opportunity to be with so many great players and understanding that I truly belong among them helps alleviate this pain. It also provides motivation for me as I continue to grow in the game.

I believe that if you are still reading this, then you want more out of the game. Most of those people that just see the game as a hobby or an excuse to drink with their friends have no real interest in improving. We are not like them. We like to master things and make our mark. I’m going to list a few things that I believe are critical points to master as you climb the ladder towards reaching your true discgolf potential. These are habits that I have observed over time from players much greater than myself. While most are very simple in nature, I believe that each one is an absolutely critical step towards mastering this game. An important thing to remember is that as you climb each step of the ladder; you would do well to work on continuing to improve in the areas below your current level. Constantly looking ahead is for prophets and dreamers. The wise man knows to always pay attention to where he is at now. He makes plans for where he is going but he remembers where he has been and all the effort it took to get him this far.


Beginner: They don’t know that they don’t know
Beginners are usually very excited about the game. The joy of playing may soon fade as they see how good the other players are but keeping our zeal for the game is the first principle towards becoming a great player. Passion is real and cannot be faked. Passionate people are exciting to talk to and they bring a contagious energy into whatever it is that they love. Our very best players are genuinely passionate about the game. They enjoy the experience, and you should to. If it ever starts feeling like work, take a break. Go do something else for a few days and come back to it when you feel the urge. Maintain your passion for the game. It will be the fuel to your fire for years to come.

Principle number two. Putting. If you truly want to get better at the game, you need to learn right now that 50% of your practice time should be allocated towards putting practice. Throwing drivers is fun so most new players spend most of their time doing exactly that. There are many others that are much more qualified than me to teach you the correct way to putt. I personally recommend the Mark Ellis putting confidence program and the Dave Feldberg putting clinic videos. But the important point I want you to take from this is that if you want to win, you have to be able to put your second or third shot in the basket from 20’ away. Work from in close outwards as you practice and never rush yourself. Train your mind to treat each practice putt as if it was an actual putt during a round. Develop a rhythm, and keep that same rhythm as you play actual rounds. Practice like you play, and play like you practice.

Principle number three. Learn to throw the three basic shots of hyzer, flat, and anhyzer with whatever mids and drivers you choose. It doesn’t really matter how far you throw them yet, just work on throwing a neutral flying disc by bending slightly over at the waist (hyzer), standing straight up (flat), and bending the spine backwards by arching your back (anhyzer). Most new players use disc selection to produce the flight path they want. Learning these basic fundamentals up front will give you a strong foundation to build upon. Do not change your grip or pull through, just work on throwing the same disc all 3 ways by bending at the waist. By learning how to shape your shots by using your body to shape your throws, you will be a leg up on your fellow players. You will have inadvertently learned the lesson that it is in fact the Indian, not the arrow that is most important.

Intermediate: They know that they don’t know
Principle number four. Be still, and observe. If you did the three above, you probably flew threw the entry level ranks. In Intermediate there are players of all skill levels. Some are beginner players that moved up because they didn’t want to be called Beginner or Recreational. Some are truly Advanced level players that have issues with their game that they are either unwilling or unable to fix. Most of these guys have confidence issues but are too proud to ask for help. Vow to yourself right now that you will never be “that guy” The important part for you to take from here is to pay attention to your fellow players. Beginning at this level, you can observe and take skills from other player’s games and add them to your own as you see fit. Why does that pro use a thumber on hole 10? How does player X throw that roller? Asking questions will assist you in growing as a player and all you really have to do is pay attention and humble yourself and ask. Not everyone will help you, but most people really, really love to talk. So all you have to do is ask and enjoy the show.

Principle number five. Learn the courses. You are far enough along now that understanding the concept that you are playing the game of golf and not participating in a distance competition will get you good results all by itself. A common trait of good players is scouting the courses they are about to play. A simple walkthrough before the round will enable you to see the course with an observant eye. One helpful trick is to stand by the basket and look back towards the tee pad. This will allow you to better gauge the fairway and see flight lines that may not be apparent from the tee itself. The more you travel to play in tournaments, the more this will come into play. You will begin to recognize similarities in course layouts and will often be able to say something like “This is just like hole X back home…”. Good players think about and plan out how they are going to attack the course before they ever throw their first shot. If the best angle to the hole for the second shot is only 100’ away from the tee box, tossing your putter to put yourself in that position will give you an advantage over those that don’t have that knowledge.

Advanced: They don’t know that they know
Principle number six. Shot selection vs. disc selection. This is a difficult one to grasp because it is a constantly moving target. As our discs beat in over time their flight paths are altered. The constant introduction of new discs just complicates the issue by adding more variables into the mix. Wind plays a huge part in telling us what shot to use and the disc we need to pull it off. We also often fall into habits of repeating what has worked for us in the past without stopping to consider the current conditions. Remembering Principle number three and applying it will often be the difference between continuing to grow at this level vs. stagnating. Most true Advanced players already have all the skills necessary to become a Pro but they oftentimes lack the confidence, consistency, and good decision making necessary to make that final leap. I believe that learning and mastering this vital skill is one of the final keys towards becoming a great disc golfer.

Principle number seven. Understanding your limits. I’ll close on this one. This is counterintuitive to Principle number four, but vital if you wish to continue the growing process. At some point, you have to be what you are. If everyone else in your group throws a big hyzer around the trees, but you know that you are accurate enough to punch down the center and give yourself a much closer putt, then sometimes you just have to make that call. As you continue to play over time you will develop certain natural skills that are unique to you. Your game is inherently your own, and you get to shape how it will develop. Playing within yourself is a huge part of developing consistency and absolutely necessary to making the jump to the next level.

Professional: They know that they know
Unwritten... I hope to one day soon be able to add more for you here, but I am not qualified to speak on this level yet.

Okay, so lots to process in there for guys like me who are trying to claw our ways through the various levels of play. My brother and I were just talking about our state's top ranked player. He talked with him during last weekend's tournament and he basically said he took 2 years of just field work getting his game dialed before playing any tournaments. I fully get it too, because when you do the field work it pays off. The guy who hits that miracle 100'er... probably more practice than divine intervention.

Disc golf shoes.

Disc Golf is hard on shoes. It's damn near on par with skateboarding or tennis. I drag my left toe when throwing a back hand - and my home courses have quite a few concrete tee pads that just destroy my toes.

At the beginning of the summer I picked up some Chacos which make for some nice walking shoes and pretty damn good dg support, but most courses around me have enough weeds and scree to want an actual shoe for protection. SierraTradingPost had some Chaco PedShed with a Vibram sole that looked really nice for < $40 so I figured why not.

Bad call.

Specifically on the PedShed - which has a seam running across the front of the shoe that holds the toe cap down. It took about a month to wear through the seam and my left foot now has a nice 4" open flap on the left shoe.

So needless to say, I've been trying a few other shoes - light hiking boots are typically a good option for support and traction but if you're in and out of water - it's a pain and they're going to be hotter than sandles. The bonus w/ hiking boots though is that on morning rounds when the grass is wet, you can stay dry for at least a while - where running shoes or chaco sandles are going to be wet pretty much instantly.

No slam dunks - everything comes with a little draw back.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Push Putt / Straddle Edition

Like many people who are trying to improve their game, I have started putting considerable effort into my short game. Typically what I mean for "short game" is anything short of 50', especially 30' to the pin. 

After about a solid month of working on a traditional pitch putt I was still struggling. It doesn't feel natural to me and I was making very little progress. So a little online digging and I came across a few posts on discgolfreview that echoed my feelings of frustration with the Dave Feldberg version of the pitch putt. For me, that pitch putt (sideways stance) has too much going on and too many moving parts.

This video shows basically the putt I've ended up with.

A big key for me is the release of the disc. I've gone to a fan grip with just my index finger on the inside of the rim. It took some getting used to - as the fan grip has never felt right for me, but I'm getting the best results with it. The release for me is low. Literally with my legs spread wide, but still able to bend at the knees - I'm starting to open my hand at knee height. It almost feels ridiculously low, but I think of it more as tossing a ball at the pin. You don't need any arc on the toss, it's more of a straight slow toss from down low to the tape area.

Okay, so 20' and inside is now feeling automatic. I rarely miss on flat 20' putts and when I do miss, I'm typically sitting within 5' of the pin. The real struggle comes at 25-30' and obviously beyond that is going to get much harder. 

There's no easy answer for getting that distance dialed, but we'll discuss that more in a bit.

The hard part for me right now is that I feel like at the 30-40' distance I'm only making 2 out of 10 straddle putts, but I can make 4-5 out of 10 throwing a short arm spin putt.  So ultimately when I'm playing a game, I go with my stronger putt - even though missing can mean another long putt to finish a hole. The only time I really go for a long straddle push putt is if I'm 100% going for the layup. Then I feel like I've got a better chance of getting within 10' of the pin and guaranteeing to finish the hole in 2 strokes.

Here's a longer video of the master of the straddle putt Nikko Locastro. And whether I'm right or wrong is TBD, but I think it's this video where Dave Feldberg steps in and says that Nikko is not spinning the disc is a bit misleading. Dave has said in a number of videos that he doesn't spin the disc and you shouldn't spin the disc, but the disc DOES spin. I believe his point is that you don't try to spin the disc... the release of the putter creates the spin. As crazy as it seems, after watching Dave's putting videos I was out practicing trying to push the disc with zero spin. Which is as frustrating as it sounds.

When you hold the disc, I typically have my hand at the 3:00 position on the disc with my wrist just slightly cocked. Opening my hand to the "shake hands" position (fingers pointed at the basket) and wrist un-cocked does in fact spin the disc pretty substantially. At about 20-25' I put my hand at about the 2:00 position which causes the disc to spin a bit more.

Coming up short from 30'?
Okay,  so you're hitting 5 out of 5 from 20' but as soon as you move back 5-10' you are hitting the old front rim banger. WHY MUST PUTTING BE SO HARD?!  The answer is pretty obvious: you're not able to get that straight line pitch from knee to chains at some point. Gravity starts effecting the disc, pulling it back down, which means you have to either throw it higher, harder or with more spin. All of which is difficult to do from the single lever position of a push putt. 

What to do?
1. Raise up onto your toes.
2. Pushing hips and pelvis forward more.
3. Optionally stepping forward with a leg (Outside the 30' circle you can legally take a step).

As Nikko points out in the video, the disc is going to be flying with a hyzer - but since it's a slow throw (relative to a drive) the disc will go straight. 

So anyways, good luck - enjoy shit-tons of practice and rest assured I'm out in the wet morning grass with you (at least in spirit).

Dog Poop Landing Zone

Playing disc golf in public parks has some advantages and some distinct disadvantages. 

Pro: almost always free. Once you own a few discs, you're good to go. 
Con: Dog owners aren't always watching their dogs as they're running around off-leash. The only thing worse than stepping in a steamy pile of dog shit is realizing that you have it on your hands after you pick up a poopy disc. 

That reminds me, I need to toss some hand sanitizer in my disc golf bag.