A lesson with Will Schusterick

Yesterday, something awesome happened. James, my Brother-in-law arranged for

Will Schusterick and I (Will is in grey shirt) at the Shelby Park course in Nashville.

Will Schusterick and I (Will is in grey shirt) at the Shelby Park course in Nashville.

a throwing lesson with Will Schusterick of the Prodigy Disc Golf Team and yesterday was the day! Will is an extremely polite and humble person, he was not offended about the myriad questions about pro disc golf, touring, practice, etc., and he never rolled his eyes as I threw yet another disc into the ground about 10′ from where I released it. If people truly want to grow the sport of disc golf, we need to get Will Schusterick in front of as many people as possible. Will Schusterick is not only an athletic role model, is also a role model of being a decent person.

The first thing Will did was show James and I how to throw a drive. I was amazed at how similar our throwing forms were: Will and I both held the disc in our right hands! Otherwise, everything was different. When you watch Will’s driving instruction video, he is reaching back much further than you think. I will need to work on my flexibility in order to perform his reach back. Will has a very strong grip: there is power in his power grip – mine not so much. His 4-step run up has 5 steps (mine had 3, Will actually has a small hop into the x-step that generates a big result). I was using my wrist to add spin, but enough spin is generated by a proper throwing motion. I was also turning my wrist over. My follow through was not helping me. My left arm was spazzing about which slowed my rotational speed, the left arm should stay compact. I rush myself through the tee box much too fast. You simply must have the correct timing when you release the disc. When you watch Will throw a disc over 600 feet without any appearance of effort it is truly impressive, what you can’t see: the thousands of hours of practice that went into that throw is even more impressive. Last year I went out to fields to practice throwing about 15 times – with all I have to work on, I will need more field time.

Perhaps the biggest immediate game changer comes from the critique Will gave of my putting. I practice putting all the time and feel I have really improved over the year. Will’s advice was to lean and follow through as much as possible. This style takes much more effort than my normal style, and goes in the basket more. Today’s putting practice (in gusty winds and light rain) confirmed the soundness of Will’s advice. Commit to each every putt with proper form and intensity. It is obvious that making more putts will lower your score.

James and I played the Naval Hill Course (it is very fun and scenic) after the lesson. We both threw some great drives (and some stinkers) and we both made some great putts (and missed some too). Incorporating what Will showed us into our games will take dedication, practice, and effort.

It is not in Will’s best interest to teach other people to throw awesome drives – he may now have to compete against James and I (if we work really hard) in a future U.S. Championship. It was obvious from Will’s approach to the lesson, that disc golf is fun for him and sharing is part of that fun. Will did not invite James and I to become part of the Prodigy Disc Golf pro team at the end of the lesson, but he did not say that we should give our discs to people who could actually throw them either. It was big fun, James and I threw a lot of discs, and we learned a ton – now we just need to incorporate this learning.

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March Madness

March 1st I was birdie bashing in shorts, but March 3rd is a different day…

Johnny, Whitney, Robert, and I teamed up for a little doubles action on the Harrison Road course today:

Why is there a car parked near the #2 basket?

Why is there a car parked near the #2 basket?

Johnny about to uncork a bad drive on #3

Johnny about to uncork a bad drive on #3

Whitney makes a great approach shot on #4

Whitney makes a great approach shot on #4

My drive on #6 was close, but no cigar

My drive on #6 was close, but no cigar

Johnny threw into the creek every chance he got

Johnny threw into the creek every chance he got

Overall, it was a fun disc golf outing – the weather just made it better!

The Vibram Birdie Bash – Harrison Road Edition

The Harrison Road Vibram Birdie Bash was a big success! We had a big time and made a little money for the club. As the Tournament Director, I had fun – this in spite of the heavy mantle of responsibility I carried. The reasons I had fun was: 1) everyone had a “what can I do to help attitude?”, 2) I played rounds with fun people, and 3) I was throwing discs.

The Vibram Birdie Bash crew, 1 March 2014, Harrison Road DGC, Martin, TN.

The Vibram Birdie Bash crew, 1 March 2014, Harrison Road DGC, Martin, TN.

After swearing an oath of allegiance to Vibram discs, we began to play. Players chose two Vibram discs ( a putter and something else) and these were the only discs we were to throw in the tournament. I had never thrown anything but Vibram putters before, so I was surprised how much I liked my Vibram Trak (fairway driver). I found the Trak to be very easy to control, felt good in hand, and threw farther than I anticipated. My putter choice was a Ridge – which is my normal putter currently. The new Ridge was scared of the chains and hasn’t been taught to enjoy the chains like my old putter, so I had some frustrating moments where I wasted great drives to poor putting – like that has never happened before…

When you look at the group photo you will see that Vibram sent everyone very bright and unique discs. It was pretty funny because they were so bright and unique that they all looked alike – without our names in them I am certain we would not have ended up with the discs we started with.

These are the Champions of the Harrison Road DGC Vibram Birdie Bash.

These are the Champions of the Harrison Road DGC Vibram Birdie Bash.

I think we all won because it was a really fun day of disc golf. Charlie and Colin won the champion’s discs. Colin also won a CTP backpack and the Spirit Award Disc. The Spirit Award celebrates disc culture and everyone exemplified that at our Birdie Bash. Colin was voted this award by an overwhelming majority. A typical example of Colin’s Spirit Award attitude was when he shanked his third drive in a row into the woods off of the #17 tee box, Colin’s response was: “this will be a great opportunity to test my skills”. Colin is a special disc golf player (and person). He is proudest of his Spirit Award disc, and I am really glad that Colin chose to come play in our Birdie Bash.

There are Vibram Birdie Bash events coming up in Milan and at Muse Park in Jackson – perhaps we will see you at one of them?