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.
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.
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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