A Story of Disc Golf Strategy

A Story of Disc Golf Strategy

If you’ve read any of our articles up to now then you probably know that we preach strategy. Many of our strategy articles are theoretical so that you can apply the strategy to many different situations. To change it up, I thought I’d provide a concrete example of how strategy plays out on our local course.

Rodney and I made it to the course last week to take advantage of the warm February weather. After playing conservatively over the past couple months due to wind and cold weather, we did two things slightly differently to get our arms ready for the season.

The first was match play, which is a game type where the player who wins the hole gets one point regardless of how many throws he or she wins the hole by. Match play encourages riskier play when you end up in trouble since total throws isn’t considered in the score. We wouldn’t normally take extra risks in a scoring round, but the goal was to push ourselves into practicing shots we wouldn’t normally throw. The second was the decision to drive aggressively on each hole, just for practice.

We played Burchfield Park’s Devil’s Den short tees to long baskets. Hole 11 starts with a slightly downhill fairway for about 350 feet followed by a steeper drop. After about 500 feet the fairway takes a slow rise back up to the basket (pictured in the featured image above) for a total of about 740 feet. This a great hole to unleash a bomb of a drive… but this comes with a serious risk. Here’s a rough layout of the fairway, see if you can identify the risks.

Devil's Den discgolf hole 11 diagram

The large pine on the right encourages you to throw left unless you have a 500 foot hyzerbomb (and I do not). However, the fairway immediately tightens after the downhill.

I threw a beautiful s-curve with my Ballista and dropped it halfway down the hill to the left side of the fairway. Rodney threw a clean drive just short of the top of the hill in the center of the fairway. Our instincts told us that I had the clear advantage with the longer drive, but the hole played out differently.

burchfield park devil's den disc golf
Chris throwing from the rough on hole 11

I was halfway down the hill so my long approach would be entirely uphill through a tight fairway. Rodney had a longer shot ahead but he also had a 15 foot elevation advantage and could hyzer around the low hanging tree branches.

We couldn’t see my obstacles from Rodney’s lie so it looked like I had the advantage. Since we were in match play, Rodney chose a risky second throw trying for extra distance but clipped a branch resulting in an early drop to the left in the rough about 50 feet ahead of me. I wasn’t able to hit the small window in front of me and after hitting a large branch I ended up about even with Rodney. From there we threw the hole evenly.

The lack of strategy should be clear here.

  • First, if you can drive 500 feet consistently then you’ll have a large advantage going for the bomb, otherwise laying up will likely give you an advantage due to the elevation. I gained no advantage with a drive that was 50-75 longer here.
  • Second, knowing your opponent’s lie will better allow you to decide if you should go all-out or play conservative. Had Rodney known my lie was poor, he probably would have won the hole by throwing a safe shot.
  • Third, know your playing field. We both should have played that hole differently knowing that a drive down the hill results in a difficult second shot.

There shouldn’t be any amazing epiphanies in this story. It simply comes down to deciding on the best place from which to take your next throw and if you have the skill to get there. I’m not encouraging conservative play with this story, but I am encouraging you to know your disc golf capabilities. Pushing yourself in practice will help you understand your own capabilities so that you can make a more informed decision during your next tournament.

Now get out there and throw!

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Giving and Asking for Disc Recommendations

Giving and Asking for Disc Recommendations

I think most disc golfers will agree that one of the great aspects of disc golf is the vast number of discs available and the relatively low cost of discs.  While a giant stack of discs isn’t necessary, it’s great fun to test different disc molds.

Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to know which discs to try and can lead to hundreds of different recommendations.  In a recent post to a Facebook group called Big Daddy Disc Golf by Dave Tucker (I recommend you check him out on YouTube also), someone stated that he loves a certain disc but would like more distance.  Most of the suggestions were quite appropriate but I noticed something which you also may have seen.  Many of the recommendations were simply people giving a disc name or saying, “I love Disc A”, or “Disc B is my go-to driver”.

I absolutely love how the community is engaged here, but a long list of mold names like this may be overwhelming.  So here are a few things you may consider when helping someone find a new disc.

First figure out what that person thinks he or she wants.  Here’s an easy tip: start by asking what that person likes about that particular disc. Their needs will quite likely be different than yours so don’t recommend based simply on what you like about a disc.

Next, figure out what he or she actually needs.  This can be difficult and may require experience, but it’s important.  For example, if a player asks for a super overstable disc for a sidearm, it’s possible what they really need is just a torque resistant disc that will flip up nicely.  If someone asks for a faster disc, maybe all he or she really needs is more glide or perhaps more turn to gain distance.

When you get to actually making a recommendation it’s a great idea to state why you’re recommending that disc.  That makes your recommendation more impactful by showing you’ve put thought into your assertion.  It can help that person prioritize which of the hundred disc molds to try first.

Also consider mentioning any potential negatives about the disc, assuming there are some.  Your goal should be to assist the person in finding a disc, not to sell them on a certain disc (unless of course you’re a company rep).  Discussing the negatives can give that person a realistic expectation and also help show that you are impartial.

Whenever possible, try to recommend multiple discs and discuss the differences.  Not only will this offer more options, but it will also provide greater context for a disc golfer who has not thrown many discs.

disc golf recommendations discs

On the flip side of this, when asking for a disc you will probably get more quality recommendations if you can keep the above in mind as well.  Before asking for recommendations figure out what you like and what you actually need in a disc.  Try to give an idea of what you aren’t looking for and mention other discs that you may have tried.

I’m going to contradict this entire article for just a moment.  I personally like to just throw a disc before I ever do any research on it. That way I can discover what the disc will do for me and not have any expectations based on how it flies for someone else.  But, if you’re like me and don’t have unlimited funds or a throw-it-before-you-buy-it shop nearby, then research and recommendations are often the way to go.  Now you may ask why I even bothered to write this article.  My answer is simply that I believe people will have a better disc golf experience if they’ve been provided with more informed recommendations.  Heck, I’ve even considered starting a blog to recommend putters to disc golfers 😉

 

If you’re interested in some of our recommendations then we encourage you to check out our putter reviews or listen our Just Throw Podcast!

Also, don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and Twitter if you haven’t yet.

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Mind Your Misses

Mind Your Misses

January in Michigan brings cold weather and snow.  Today I played several rounds after a winter storm layered ice on top of an inch of snow.  The ground was firm enough in most places that it didn’t even collapse under my feet.  As a result, every putt posed an interesting question: do I go for the make or just lay up?  What is the proper strategy in the Approach Zone?

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Play the hole backwards

Play the hole backwards

No, I’m not saying for you to tee off at the basket and try to land your putt on the cement tee pad.  I’m talking about a strategy that legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus employed.  Nicklaus often talked about starting his thoughts at the perfect location on the green to hole a putt.  From there, he would determine what spot in the fairway gives an opportunity to easily find the selected location on the green.  His strategy moves backwards all the way to the tee.  This is a simple concept, but how does it apply to disc golf?

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ACE your way around the course

ACE your way around the course

The mental side of athletics is often overlooked.  We look at professionals and see their amazing abilities but we often forget that their decisions and ability to focus might give them the largest advantage.  Disc golf is no different.  Two players with similar physical ability can play entirely different based on these invisible factors originating in the mind.
 
I’ve come up with a simple way to remember the three basic mental steps that should be part of every throw: ACE!  After all, why not think of an ace on every shot.  The acronym stands for Analyze, Commit, and Execute.

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