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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Winter Disc Golf – Benefits and Goals

Winter Disc Golf – Benefits and Goals

I love playing disc golf in the winter.  Primarily because we rarely encounter more than one or two other groups and the course is customarily quiet.  That does bring up the question though, why are there no other disc golfers on the course?

Yeah, I get it.  Cold.  Discs don’t fly as far.  Wind.  Snow.  Cold.  Well, I believe winter disc golf has many benefits that outweigh the discomfort of the cold.  Over the past couple months we’ve written about various aspects of winter disc golf, and this post will focus on benefits and managing your goals while throwing in the cold.  If you’re already a year-round disc golfer then you can probably relate to most of these.

 

winter disc golf benefitsMuscle Memory

Simple concept, if you don’t play in the winter then you’ll be rusty in the Spring.  Even just going through the motions will help you stay loose as long as you’re going through the right motions.

Adaptability

Learn to play through as many conditions as you can, this includes cold, wind, and snow.  This will teach you about many different aspects of your game and will help you round out your disc golf game in general.  This will also give you an advantage next time you’re playing in a tournament and the wind suddenly picks up or an unexpected rain cloud douses the field.

Perseverance

I get it, I’m starting to sound like a motivation poster.  Seriously though, after you’ve played through zero degree wind chills or a couple feet of snow, the rest of the season will feel like paradise.  It’s basically the concept of overtraining.  For example, if you’re planning to run a 3 mile race, you may train for 6 or 9 miles so that the 3 mile run feels easy. 

Bragging Rights

This may be contrary to our disc golf values, so don’t be arrogant, but there is a sense of satisfaction that comes with telling your peers that you played through the winter.  Even on the day that with sub-zero temperatures.

 

I just laid out a number of winter disc golf benefits, but are your goals properly aligned?  We’ve talked about goals in the past and we truly believe that managing your goals and expectations will help you achieve the maximum benefit of anything in life, including a disc golf round.  Here are my primary goals when throwing through the cold, but I’m sure this list doesn’t come close to exhausting the possibilities.

 

Form Improvement

That’s an odd goal to list for winter disc golf, isn’t it?  I can’t throw as far and I’m bundled up with extra clothing!  Yes, that’s exactly the point!  Since you know you won’t be able to throw as far, focus on your form so that you’ll be in prime shape when the Spring arrives.  Plus, if you can perfect your form under all those extra layers of material, then you should have no problem as you shed those layers… just be careful not to develop bad habits from puffy jackets.

snowy disc golf tee padAccuracy

This is closely related to the benefit of adaptability.  You already know that distance is difficult to work on in the winter, so why not focus on improving your accuracy during the sub-optimal conditions .  Similar to perfecting form beneath layers of clothes, improving accuracy through cold wind will pay off immensely when the weather becomes more mild.

Meditation

As I said, the course is usually quiet.   It’s also beautiful covered in snow or frost.  This is a good opportunity to escape the daily clamor.

Fun

Yep, now I really sound like a motivational poster.  We love disc golf and I don’t think I need to explain further.

Do you have goals or benefits that we didn’t cover?  Please share them with us, and then share this post with your fellow disc golfers who aren’t sure about playing through the winter!

 

Check out other winter articles:

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The 5 Most Important Putting Components

The 5 Most Important Putting Components

Watch a round of disc golf at the local course or a professional tournament, and you’ll notice something very quickly: there are a lot of different putting styles! Spin, turbo, push, spush, walking, and list could go on.  Each of those basic putting styles has seemingly unlimited possibilities and personalizations.  Zoom out a little and you’ll notice that successful putters have a few basic similarities regardless of individual technique.

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Zen and the Art of Disc Golf Book Review

Zen and the Art of Disc Golf Book Review

My past experience as a golfer has introduced me to several great books with concepts that apply to disc golf as well.  However, there aren’t a lot of disc golf specific books available.  So naturally I was excited when disc golfer and practitioner of Zen, Patrick McCormick, decided to share his thoughts on sports psychology where it relates to disc golf.
 

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