Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting picky on the backhand.

So last week I posted about trying to shore up my own technique. Slow improvements, lots of drills and some feedback over on dgcr that has helped focus my efforts.

As I have been working daily on correcting or improving my back hand drives - I've had to come up with a way to put my mental imagery into action as a physical motion. Easy? No. Not even close to easy. It's difficult and frustrating to imagine your body to be in the right position, video yourself, *feel* like you're doing it right and then watch yourself doing it incorrectly.

I tend to have too much forward momentum - which throws my balance off - when in fact I want just enough momentum that I'm able to pivot on the plant foot, without falling forward. That pivot is something I've seen from disc golfers with impeccable form, over and over. I've decided to stop calling it a run-up because I don't want the imagery of "fast forward motion" sneaking into my x-step.

So let's talk first about how to transfer a mental image of what that x-step should feel like into a physical action - and I'll tell you flat out - this is a difficult thing for me. I've spent so much time working on getting my form to where it is - simply based on the results of being able to throw my max-distance - by what I thought "felt right" that now changing is proving very difficult.

I am trying to use a sound or a rhythm and some "mental key frames" during the x-step to create that correct motion. The sound could be a count (One, Two, Three, Four) or audio queues (One, Cross, Up, Hit, Turn) or it could be the sound of a locomotive in your head. Whatever you can tie to a smooth motion that helps you have a clear and sharp visual imagery of what you're trying to do.

Eventually I'm sure I won't need these audio queues - but right now - I need something to help modify my form, because my default is to bend at the waist during my reach back.

I would also like to point out that there seems to be two distinctively different x-steps that are in use among the top tier players, but they share a common theme. One X-Step which seems to be used by Mike Moser, Espen and Steve Brinster - is the x-step with a more vertical hop.

The benefit of that hop seems to be that it helps to keep me from leaning back by transferring that momentum up when I would start bending back.

The second x-step version seems to be more of what I'd call a bent knee step through. Will Schusterick is pretty clearly doing a gorgeous version of it here:

I've tried to emulate Will's X-step for quite a while, but I tend to fail during the reach back by leaning my upper body backwards where he's able to pivot around his spine as vertical axis.

Seems easy enough to fix right? I wish. I'm trying to change how I'm generating my acceleration from a bending backwards and then whipping forward to a more rotational acceleration.

So the two variations of x-steps both have quite a few things in common - but I want to point out a few things. The x-step is to put their bodies into a powerful position. By staying as uncoiled as possible as late as possible, they're creating a short window of time during the weighting of the plant foot where the uncoiling of their reach back can be magnified by their hips transferring all that weight forward.

Both versions are very upright during the reach back, which coils up their abdominal muscles around the upright spine. Also, they're almost all very slow and controlled during the x-step. It's not typically a fast step. Finally, most of these guys are spinning out on their plant foot - and ending up very balanced at the end of their drive - and not taking a long lunging step forward to regain control.

Coiling the core from top of the hop to foot plant. 
As you can see clearly here - Espen is very upright, winding up his core muscles around his spine. He doesn't start the reach back until the top of the hop.

Next he transfers all his weight into the front leg while releasing the twist, which creates an incredibly powerful action.

So today's post was really to reinforce the stuff that I'm trying to incorporate into my own form. Back to the field soon to try to put it all into practice!

And here's the running tally of form change:

Leaning way back.
Round 2: Fighting to keep it more centered.

Round 3: Reach back more centered. Follow through still off balance.
And the following is some in depth input from one of DGCR's resident form masters: Sidewinder22
Some good analysis in there and looks a little better. I wouldn't say the pros spin out, they pivot. Spin out is bad, that means there is a loss of resistance to torque against which results in a long slow spin of the foot typically. Pivot is a kinetic release of torque and is typically super fast and short. You are spot on about being uncoiled as late as possible in the x-step, I'm loose as a goose until my front foot begins striding forward past the rear foot and then my core loads down into the rear leg/hip as the upper body stays back(still in posture against the rear leg) with the front foot moving forward. 

Moser does a different hop than others like Ulibarri used to where the rear leg never crosses behind, and they do a little two hop on the rear foot. You have to maintain good balance to do this type hop move or you will fail miserably. I'd also note Moser doesn't throw quite as far as the other top guys, but he putts and approaches lights out! 

The Brinster, GG, Feldy type hop is what I've become most comfortable with although I can throw nearly as far from a non hop x-step, but I tend to spray more left and right without the hop. I feel the hop helps pivot the body back in the back-swing as you move forward, it's more like a dance move and it adds rhythm and consistency on long bombs, and more weight shift which helps direct the energy more forward. 

Will's technique seems to be the hardest to replicate, it's actually similar to a backhanded bowling technique. His technique is also quite similar to the Jarvis brothers but his posture is more folded and hence doesn't quite throw as far as them as his rotation or speed is restricted, but this maybe a compensation for accuracy as he is braced to the max like throwing the momentum of a bowling ball against the front leg. 

The first frame of your pic, looks like you are hopping too far forward, as your balance is leaning forward. The hop should be a little more vertical so you don't have to lunge your front leg forward so you don't face plant. Going more vertical also helps load your weight more back(down into rear foot as a scale would read higher than your actual weight) into the rear foot/leg/hip as you come down and then stride forward to plant, then brace the lower spine against the front leg so the scale would then read higher than your actual weight but still maintaining dynamic/athletic/upright/stacked posture (like a skier turning).
The front leg has to resist turning to torque/post against it. 

In the second frame of your pic, your arm is already hugging. Your elbow never has a chance to get forward so your release is really like a foot or two behind where it should be, see Masterbeto vid where he talks about "going from back here to up here adds anywhere from 60-100' or more". You should either have your shoulders turned back another 45 degrees with the same arm/disc position, so your right shoulder blade is facing the target, or your elbow should be forward of the shoulder with the disc near the right pec at that point. Your posture is not stacked with the shoulders over hips over knees over toes. Rear foot is flat on the heel and TOES OFF THE GROUND! Try throwing a jab with your rear toes in the air and heel on the ground, you can't move your weight forward into the snap of the jab that way. 

The third frame is massive hugging and high shoulder and rear side posture/leverage gone trying to push off the rear heel. Your upper arm should be more Barry Shultz/Nate Doss wide, so the shoulder and arm are more connected to whip a heavy momentum(sledgehammer) forward. 
Your shoulder is too high, far ahead of the arm and open around to the target, so your whip ends up around your body to the right instead of straight through your core/center target-ward from a lower shoulder position unless you are content throwing high anhyzers and rollers.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Form Breakdown

So it didn't take long for some tennis elbow to slow my disc golf to a crawl. I tried to play a round a couple days ago and drivers were impossible. More ice, more rest, more vitamin-I, more stretching. Less throwing.

I decided that instead of throwing rounds, I would work on my technique - or lack there of - and throw putters. Decided to grab the camera and take some of my own advice, and work on some better practice.

Upon first glance, I thought that I was doing most things right. I was able to hit 300' with my putter, sometimes out to even further. My consistency was pretty rough though, especially beyond 250'. Then I started comparing body mechanics to the guys who actually know what they're doing and some things started becoming much more clear... I was doing alot of things very wrong.

I was leaning back during the reach back, straight legged, not pulling tight enough, not bracing against the plant foot, pulling through a bit low, my stance was too closed. Lots of things to work on, and if you've ever tried to change the way you throw, you know how hard it is. Just BRUTAL.

For the last two days, I would record - throw - review and groan as I saw that I was still leaning back too far.

It took so much work to just get my upper body this straight - which did have some benefits, but felt completely wrong. I tried doing the leg bend that Will Schusterick and McBeth are doing in their reach back. If you haven't tried to do it... WOW, it's hard. My timing went to complete poop.

Slight improvement.
The good news is that I'm hitting my plant foot harder, pivoting on my heel, slowly getting my upper body more straight and the payoff is better precision, meaning my groupings are tighter on my putter drives. I'm not exactly parking them at 300' - but that will come with getting more comfortable and more practice.

The bad news is that doing it right feels wrong and what "feels" like I'm leaning forward is often just me tilting my head. Oh the joys of disc golf.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Denver Disc Golf Courses

Metro Denver has a handful of disc golf courses that are pretty darn good. For being a large city, it's definitely not a ton of courses, but since property is expensive, we have to make due with what we've got. Venturing an hour away and you can find some gorgeous mountain courses, but those are a good deal harder to get to before/after work for most of the 9-5 crowd. This list is just centered on the higher quality Denver area courses - and we'll get a good list of mountain courses later.

I know there are more courses in metro-Denver that I didn't list - but for the most part these are the ones to hit first and then once you're bored, have a go at some of the others.

Fehringer Ranch:
Link: DG Course Review

With the exception of dirt tee-boxes, that have become very lumpy, Fehringer one of the newest and nicest courses in Denver. Considering what the developers where working with in terms of trees and elevation, they really managed to come up with a nice layout. This course is still a work in progress, though, and the single pin placements and lumpy tee-boxes will hopefully be up-graded in the not so distant future.

PERMENANTLY CLOSED: Colorado Heights University (CHU) - (Denver)
Link: DG Course Review CHU was by far my favorite around the city, but it is permanently closed and the baskets are pulled.

Badlands / Blair Witch (Federal Heights)
Link: DG Course Review
A little snow never stopped these bearded brothers.
Badlands is another favorite up in Federal Heights. Varied terrain, some fantastic tree golf in Blair Witch and some water hazards if you want to test your metal game. After this year's 303 Tournament, it looks like a 3rd course will be added making this area a real destination for disc golf.

Paco Sanchez / Lakewood Dry Gulch (Denver)
Link: DG Course Review
My brother hitting putts at Paco.
Paco is a very long course that is getting very popular since Johnny Roberts was pulled for renovation last year. Playing the full 21 involves close to 5 miles of walking and makes for a very "full-value" round. For some reason (parks, vandalism, funding) a number of baskets are currently tone poles and will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future. Hole 13's bucket was stolen - so it's often played safari style. The front side is extremely popular during the summer months, so it's common to see large groups after work and on the weekends - and because of the length of the backside, many people will play the first 8 holes and 21 twice.

The course plays right over and along side a very used public path, so it's extremely important to use caution when throwing. Also, it seems that the clowns in the area have decided that baskets make good scrap metal, so they've stolen #3 and #13 - which have joined about 3 other holes as "tone-poles". It appears that the city has no plans to replace the baskets.

Exposition Park (Aurora)
Link: DG Course Review

Expo is typically well groomed grass, though geese tend to pepper the place with poop through the winter, summer, spring and fall (catch my drift?). Not many trees on this course, so it's pretty much hyzer central and then hit your putt - but it's a good place to work on your game and unless you toss it in the pond, you'll find your disc pretty quick.

Birdsnest (Arvada, CO)
Link: DG Course Review

Not exactly metro-Denver, but pretty accessible from West Denver - Birdsnest is a good place to stretch out some longer shots with a couple fun holes that play among the trees. Not generally too crowded and also dog friendly, and it's dedicated to disc golf so you don't have to worry about pedestrian traffic. It can be one of the windier courses due to it's location in the foothills, so it's probably worth checking the forecast before heading out.

Village Greens (Greenwood Village, CO)
Link: DG Course Review

Weekend play is getting very crowded - and this course is not setup to handle big crowds very well. It can be played almost entirely with a putter and mid, with a few holes that you can throw a driver on. I'm not a huge fan, but like Expo - if you're looking for a place to work on your game, or to bring a beginner - this will fit the bill.

Johnny Roberts (Arvada, CO)
Link: DG Course Review

Johnny Roberts was recently (2014) re-worked. It's now a putter only course. 18 holes, perhaps 2 holes could be thrown with mid-ranges, but I've played ever hole with a putter and it's not really much to get excited about. Expect very large crowds on a weekend - but if you're looking to work on your short game, it is what it is.

Other courses that I very rarely play because of distance or quality:
Interlocken (Broomfield)
Green Valley Ranch (Denver)
Westminster (Westminster)
Springvale (Thornton)
David Lorenz (Centennial)
Arapahoe Community College (Littleton)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rusty Cage

Today is the first submission from Lenny Siegel, who I met during a warm up round. We hit it off immediately and then he noticed my "Not a Roller" Destroyer that was signed by JohnE McCray. He figured I had to be "HeavyDisc" and then mentioned potentially writing something - to which I quickly said, "Have it on my desk by Monday." - Jason
Many of us ended up here because we live for recreation and the weather and season become determinants for where you can find many of us on a given day. We ski and ride with fervor in the early winter, getting up early to beat the tourists and those less gnar than ourselves to the steepest most socked-in terrain. We brag of building back-country booters and grabbing first chair on a bluebird day.

Lenny in his natural habitat.
But it’s when the days grow shortest that we start to take the turn. Maybe you've argued with one too many Brazilian travel agents. You got stiffed by a 10-top that sat down 30 minutes before close. Perhaps your mind started to wander after explaining ad nausea that ski boots aren't supposed to be comfortable.

Lenny and his Helix's riding the Vail gondola to the land of deep snow.
We start to take the turn. After too many sweaty post-shred bus rides and being let down by Ullr (Norse god of snow), the steep and deep terrain which brought us here seem about as inviting as retrieving an errant disc from an open cesspool. Instead of booters and bluebird, our minds drift to baskets and birdies. To the days spent squinting out the windows at work, trying to read the wind, trying to beat the afternoon storm. Those are the days that keep you here.

Shake hands! I said SHAKE!
Another layer? A glove for my non-throwing hand? The thermometer in my car reads 38. Surely I’ll be ok right? Feldberg said not to practice in the winter. Something about muscle memory or tendon bounce. I say bully to that. Should I take advice from a man who doesn't practice? Not bloody likely. This is the winter of chains for me.

Disc golf drove me to obsession, but it was a meandering route. To improve at this game it would take practice, repetition, some personal discipline. And I was going to start now. What do I need for this?
Somewhere with light and warmth. Maybe a place to set my discs. That’s what I needed. The streetlamps turn off at about 11 at the school down the street. Putting in the dark is dreadful.

The things we do.
Parking garages take on a new significance when the snow is falling. Originally built to keep the cars (mostly rentals and out of state plates) from getting chilly, lest a tourist be forced to scrape and sweep his windshield like a commoner, these subterranean sanctuaries of recreation take on a new meaning for the disc'ing residents of Vail, CO during late winter.

What’s the garage code? There’s a closure on I-70 but I’m still gonna make my way to East Vail. Meet you down there in 15? The state trooper didn't see a permit in my windshield, but he let me through anyway. I must look local.

Making concrete basket anchors.
HORSE? No, DISC is better. How about 21? I think whatever makes us re-set and take the putt each time will be best, just like in a round. We struggle to get good practice in. The ceiling of this garage is low, which favors Petrie’s putting style. He uses more spin than I do, which allows him to get good distance and speed on his putts without relying on lobbing the disc high above the target to travel chain-ward. I noticed this because I experienced what can be a golfer’s nightmare on the course; a full-speed putt into a ceiling. These putts are only slightly less humiliating than what getting posterized must feel like. Usually a ceiling formed by pine or cedars is found on the disc golf courses of Colorado, but in our parking garage/putting dojo its cold hard concrete. I’m forced to change my putt to a more direct, low-flying style, what Dunipace calls the ‘snake-bite’ putt. It won’t stick around past this session though. Too unwieldy. I’ll be soaring past baskets and hunkering down into sage brush for butt-puckering comebacks all summer. But I guess it will work for tonight.
Finding treats in the mushroom kingdom.
So where does it take us? All the time spent recreating “serious” golf with putting practice? I no longer have to hunt down practice space as the long warm season is graciously upon us. Leagues are up and running and the huckers of Vail once again have their stoke. Had I gotten any better?

On many nights I still find myself counting the steps to distances which have become familiar. One, two, three; from here I will only miss when it matters and I will be shocked. Four, Five, Six; this will be my comfort zone, from wherein I will miss and be shocked. Seven, eight, even nine steps out? Even the best miss from here and they are shocked. Best not to waste time practicing throws from here and out. That is where I am now, comfortable to 6 steps out.

But one’s putting range cannot be a true measure of disc golf success. The fact is that we all measure success in different ways. In this game you can’t simply save the princess and live happily after in, oh let’s say mushroom kingdom. There is no endgame here.

The disc golf endgame.
While the notion that practice = improvement = happiness is a tempting one, the truth is the little experiences that this game takes you through need to be appreciated just as much as the process of improving your game.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Latitude 64° Scythe Review

Today's review is brought to you by the fantastic folks at Infinite Discs. Promo Code HEAVYDISC will save you some coin on your next order. Thanks to Alan - who sent it over to review!

Have a quick look at their selection - it's more fun than a sack of monkeys!

What's pink and shows up on your death bed?
The #'s Speed: 12, Glide: 5, Turn: 0, Fade: 4 (Test disc weight: 170g)

I love FireBirds. I always carry a 165g Champion FB specifically for thumbers, forehands and shots that I can't have flip on me. On a windy day I have a 175 Champ FB that can handle even the meanest of gale forces.
Flight Path Powered by
inbounds Disc Golf
When I cracked open the package from Infinite Discs, and pulled out the latest overstable driver from Latitude 64°, I immediately felt the rim and thought, "Hello, distance fire chicken!" I had high hopes that I could have all the stability that I love in my Firebirds with the added benefit of being able to get this disc out past that wall where the Firebirds seems to just drop to the ground.

So is it THAT stable? Yes. It's truly overstable (on par with brand new Quantum Quasar) and even in a 15 mph head wind I was able to put as much hand speed on it as I could and it wouldn't turn more than the smallest bit. As a comparison, I threw a 175g Star Destroyer RHBH into the same headwind and it turned it a solid 100'.

Here's a nice thing though, it wasn't the immediate fade that I've seen with similar offerings - where a flat drive was heading left after 150'. It was dead nuts straight for 300' and then you got a more pronounced fade. That was my beef with the Vibram Four20, which would be summed up as "too stable for Denver" - and also the shallow rim was just too difficult for me to feel comfortable with on the Four20. If I want a headwind disc, I don't want it so OS that I have to throw it on a huge anhyzer to get it out 300' - and ultimately that's why I really like the Scythe. I feel like I can get it out to nice distances throwing it flat.

Lat64 Opto plastic is still gorgeous and takes all the abuse you can dish out. There's a strange discrepency with the #'s published on the lat64 site - which says 12/3/0/4 - and that's a glide rating of 3? In my humble opinion this is more like a 5. Infinite Discs has it listed as a glide rating of 5 and I felt that the 5 is way more accurate, especially compared to a disc like an Innova Monster or the Firebird, which do have that "I'm done going forward" feeling.

I think that for windy days or players looking for a distance driver that can take substantial hand speed - the Scythe fits that bill very nicely.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tree! The Sanctioned Beating

Michael driving into the trees at twilight.
2014 Sakuna Matata Tournament Recap 6/4/2014
By Jason Liebgott with commentary by Kyle O'Neill

A few months back, I signed up for my first ever sanctioned tournament at a course that I'd never played. The only thing I'd heard about the course was the following: "Sakuna will destroy you."

This was my second official tournament, and I’d played Sakuna Pines a grand total of one time (roughly 9 months into my disc golf ‘career’) prior to signing up for the seventh incarnation of Sakuna Matata. I think I blissfully ignored (or blocked out) how difficult it was while I was willfully handing my money over.

I figured I'd play in the intermediate division, but after some badgering and insults from my brother and my buddy Kyle, I switched to the advanced division. Might as well go down swinging in my first tournament.

Isn't that what life is all about?!

As of a few weeks ago, I'd played exactly two rounds at a "tree-heavy" course. Those 2 painful rounds took place at Beaver Ranch in Conifer, CO. It had slapped me around to the point where I stopped keeping track of my score on hole 5. I left stuttering and confused as to how a disc could pin ball so far sideways.

I had to learn how to throw straight in the woods! My field work sessions focused on throwing understable discs as straight as possible, slowing down and hitting my release points. Less distance and more straight.

Two weeks ago, I finally drove down to Black Forest with my buddy Ryan Knuth to have a look what all the fuss was about. Ryan has played Sakuna quite a bit, so I took my notebook and wrote down a game plan for each hole as we played it. It helped a bit to have input on a course like this, where you most likely won't be able to see the basket... let alone remember WHERE the basket is the next time you play it.

Here's a quick shot of Ryan driving on one of the more open sections of the course - but as you can tell, you are quickly back into the forest.

I had some beginner's luck and pulled off a +4 for my first round. "How bad could this course really be? Now that I've got my little note cards, I'm golden! Trees are easy."

Oh, what a fool-hearty young man I was on that day. A life lesson was on it's way.

Second trip down to Sakuna just a week later with my brother and buddy Kyle - and I finally realized what this course really is: it's a place where disc golfers go to lose their minds.

Yes, the course is gorgeous, but it's going to test you physically and mentally. I had to throw thumbers, forehand rollers, laser beams, skip shots, pancake thumbers, sliding drivers upside down under bushes and generally scrambled like a maniac just to hold onto bogeys. I was extremely lucky to shoot +11 and it felt like I needed to sleep for 24 hours afterwards.

The course IS gorgeous! I caught myself not paying attention to my game and just gazing around at the scenery. During this practice round I shot a respectable +8, which I was very happy with. I thought that if I played near that, and possibly shaved a few strokes off per round, I’d be in really good shape.

That's when I decided that this tournament would be completely pressure free. I would set my expectation that I was going to have fun and not look at my score until the round was over.

Trying to perform well was a recipe for disaster. It was going to be 3 rounds of trying to remain patient, stay in the moment, and have fun. Scores be damned, I was going to have a good time.

The day before the tournament started, I packed up and headed down to Black Forest, riding shotgun with my brother. His jeep was packed up with a cooler full of steaks, our tents and of course a practice bucket.

El Campo de los hermanos Liebgott.

I didn’t head down to the tournament location until the morning of, and in hindsight, I regret that decision. I had to get up very early for a two hour drive, and then basically started the first round armed with only my limited experience from the week prior. I think it might have helped to get out on the course a little bit and mentally prepare myself.

We setup and then hustled out to the course for about 6 holes at twilight, running into Lenny (who reads HeavyDisc, what up Lenny!). Both my brother and I lost our drives on our last hole of the night and had to hunt like crazy before finding them in the fading light - only to realize that we had zero clue as to where the road was that would take us back to camp, so we had to walk an extra 6 holes before finally finding our way out.

Always good to start a tournament with an extra dose of humility.

A dinner of grilled steaks and marginally cooked baked potatoes and we passed out pretty early. Morning came and we warmed up, met our friends and then milled down to the player's meeting where we were assigned our cards and then headed out to the woods, excited and nervous - shaking hands and trying to remember names and faces.

I ended up on the Advanced Masters Card (40+) because there were only 4 of them - and that suited me, as I've got enough salt in my beard to get me an honorary slot in their division. Our card was friendly and we had a fun time chopping our way along the course. I shot a +5 without a any birdies, so I felt like I was doing okay, shooting mostly pars and managing to stay out of the big trouble areas.

All my cards were friendly, and I’m incredibly happy that was the case. There’s nothing worse than trudging around a course for 3 + hours with 4 people you wouldn’t even ask to help move an old couch out of your house under normal circumstances.

Unlike Jason’s first round, the wheels fell off for me pretty quick. I started out decently, but then I hit a stretch of holes that would haunt me every round. I just couldn’t figure them out. When I tried different approaches (read: got out of my game and comfort zone) it only got worse and I never really recovered. Every aspect of my game that I consider strong (accurate drives, pinpoint upshots) were doing absolutely nothing for me. I was missing relatively easy putts, just as icing on the cake. It was like falling asleep in your own bed and then waking up in Thailand. “Well, what the hell am I supposed to do now?!”

We had lunch back at the camp and then grabbed our new cards. To be honest, I didn't realize that I was on the second card until the end of the day. Starting the round, I was already tired, but was shooting a little more relaxed and even had a few birdies.

Then on a long and heavily wooded par 5, I had my beating.

My first drive went pin balling into the woods, then a thumber that ended up with zero look, another thumber for lateral movement, another thumber just to have a look and then four more shots to put it in the bucket. I stood there swooning - unsure of what had happened, but taking an 8 felt like somebody was trying to hammer me into the ground.

Somehow I managed to pull out of the tail spin and climb back onto the par-train and finish the round by missing an easy putt and limping back to camp. When my buddy Kyle asked me how I had shot, I responded, "That was rough... that was just a blood-bath-massacre... not good", and then I tallied up my score and I had shot a +4? I re-checked my score and indeed, I had shot one better than my first round even with my 8 on the par 5. I guess the birdies had helped stem the bleeding.

When Jason told me he had a horrible round and then had the gall to utter “+4” in the same sentence, I nearly slapped him across the face.
I was literally DFL (dead friggen last) in our division after two rounds (a +13 and +14, respectively, will do that). Who’s bright idea was it to sign up for Advanced?!

The story from everybody was the same across the board - rough rounds with lots of pain. My brother checked the results online and came back to camp.

"Hey man, you're tied for second place", he tells me.

"That's cool, maybe they'll just stop the tournament now and I'm in good shape!" But I knew there was still ton of stuff that could happen in 19 more holes of tree golf. I have to say that my mental game probably saved my bacon more than anything else. I would take my shot, and once it left my hand - I was done worrying about it.

Even with all of the frustration, I’m very proud of the fact that I never got outwardly emotional. I had some heated conversations with myself, but didn’t let it spill out and ruin my weekend. I just looked up into the tree tops, gave a small smile and took a deep breath… nothing much else to be done but get ready for the next shot.

I would keep an eye on where my disc went - then I'd stroll back to the bag and have a seat on my stool and think about other stuff like my kids or what I was going to do for dinner. I just flatly refused to let it be an emotional game. The only times my emotions got hot were missing those 20' putts, but I had to accept that I missed them because I wasn't practicing enough. I know that's a weak spot in my game and I need to work on it.

That night, I cooked up some fajitas and we drank too many beers and commiserated about those damn trees and missing easy putts. Good times, probably too many shot's of Kyle's bottle of Jack Daniels and I pass out face down in the tent, spending the night filling my sleeping bag with horrible meat farts. I avoided getting into any sort of game-plan for the following day - this course was all about adapting to trouble, so why worry about it?

Day 2 started with the best intentions of playing a short warm up round and then hitting the putts for 20 minutes. Yeah, that didn't happen.

Instead I cooked a bunch of breakfast tacos and walked over to the player's meeting without putting more than a handful of discs, feeling groggy and pretty well hung over. I was on the top card with Mike Bibby and Trevor Gagstetter who I played with on the second card the day before. After a very rushed warm up, I sat down and realized that (as the 2 minute horn blew) I'd left my water bottle back at camp.

Thank you a million times to Mike Bibby who generously handed over a spare Gatorade bottle, because without it would have been REALLY bad news bears. Bibby - you rock.

I never really got in my groove in the last round, surprise-surprise, with zero warm up - but I managed to save par quite a bit with upshots that kept me from having to putt. Putting was a disaster w/ 3 missed 20 footers but I found a couple birdies and I hit most of the long tunnel lines and stayed out of MOST of the jails (but not all of them).

If I was off my intended line or missing a putt, I kept saying, "Just roll with it - even if you end up falling off the pace, you're having a good time." I kept with my philosophy of only worrying about hitting the first window and throwing much easier than usual and it continued to work. I even managed to birdie the par 5 that I took an 8 on the previous day (which felt very nice). That put some extra wind in my sails and helped me shake off some heart-breaker putts that hit way too much chain to spit out, but did anyway.

All I wanted to do in the third round was make small improvements, make better decisions and continue to have fun. If I moved out of last place, great. I accomplished all three of my goals and ended on a high note (only +11!).

Eventually we stood on the last tee-box, slapping out the high fives and universally feeling relieved that we could ALMOST relax. I guess I relaxed too much because I hit the second tree off the box and went zinging into the woods. I just chuckled, it seemed appropriate. I still didn't know what my score was - I was very glad of that - and I just wanted to finish off strong.

Well, last hole and I'm in tree jail with zero look at anything nice.

It went like this:
Backhand? Nope, never gonna happen.
Thumber? Never, total mess, worse than backhand.
Tomahawk? Hah, worse than thumber.
Forehand? Really bad with the slimmest of windows, if I'm lucky.

Better to be lucky than good - forehand it is!

I stretched out as far to the right as I could trying to see the basket, pine needles everywhere including my face. Discraft Surge - beaten to death, a disc I've thrown almost daily for a year straight. I had to throw an anhyzer forehand for 250' through the woods and I needed it to gently turn the entire way, dodge every tree and never fade. Nooooo problem.

I commit to the line, trying to hold onto some hope, and let it go. Out it floats, turning, turning... gliding through the woods ... still turning and it finally skids up to the bucket for a 20' straddle putt behind a small tree!! Oh what a ridiculous relief that was!! Watching it skitter up towards the basket it was like I could finally take a breath after being held under water for too long.

Does he make the 20'er?! DOES HE HIT THE CLUTCH PUTT TO SAVE PAR?!

No. Damn thing fell outta my hand like a wet fish.

Oh well, that's FRISBEE GOLF!

I ended up shooting +5 in my final round (69, 68, 69) and in 3rd place, one stroke behind my brother who shot a seriously fantastic final round of +1 to jump up from the second card and win 2nd place. I was extremely proud of him for going into the last round and just hanging it all out there.

Congrats to Mike and Jason both! Despite my less-than-stellar performance, I had a fantastic time hanging out with great friends, meeting new ones, and enjoying everything nature has to offer. That’s why I started playing disc golf in the first place.

Kyle, who looked like he'd sooner murder a puppy than play another round at Sakuna won $100 in the CTP contest. Mike Bibby, who handed me his 2nd bottle of Gatorade on a sweaty hot day, won our division shooting an impressive 69, 62, 70 and I couldn't have been happier for him!

My brother, stoked to take 2nd place and that he didn't have to share a tent with me.
We all had a fantastic time, our bodies sore and stinky - but not that much worse for the wear. I couldn't have asked for a better group of friends to hang out with in the woods for 3 days playing this game that we love so much.