One simply must practice…

PuttPract2014-06-27 11.56.52Recent heavy rains meant playing outside was a little damp, but I found a place to practice for a bit…

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Perhaps you want to play a little disc golf?

2014-04-27 17.14.44-1I was skeptical when I bought the Wham-o Mini Disc Golf Set, but for less than $20 how wrong could I be? I have now bought 2 more as gifts. In my opinion this is perhaps the greatest disc golf value out there.

Our main hall presents a very narrow tunnel shot (especially if you play the walls as OB) to make it even sicker play from the back of the den into the front foyer. A tight hyzer-flip that stays low is required here.

The kitchen has two doorways. Throw a RHBH anhyzer into the kitchen from the dining room, and get it to fade back left to go through the door into the hall and then hit the blind basket in the hall!

Playing up and down the stairs can be challenging and is a real equalizer…

Amazingly, this seems to be well-tolerated by my beautiful spouse. I don’t throw commercial minis in the house because they are denser and fly more like projectiles – much better for backyard use. The Wham-o minis that come with the set are very light and fun to throw. They hold hyzer and anhyzer lines well – a long straight shot was difficult, until I discovered that the discs hyzer-flipped so well. I am certain that some very interesting throw scenarios could be made with these light-weight discs and some large indoor fans. One month into playing around with the Wham-o mini set, I have yet to break anything and the walls look no worse for wear and tear. Of course, the basket and discs are in great shape too and look like new.

I don’t think that throwing minis at a mini basket will shave strokes off your full-size game. It is just good fun and may help develop your sense of fun such that you enjoy you enjoy your full-size game more.

And where else will you get 6 discs and a basket for less than $20???

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.

Disc golf fitness

It is now late January, 2014. Everybody is going full-steam on their New Year’s resolutions. I have a couple friends who are lifting weights and/or running and the results of their strength is beginning to show on the disc golf course. SO, today I did a push up. Maybe tomorrow I will do two push ups. I do not enjoy weightlifting. I would rather play disc golf. I probably won’t find time for my push ups tomorrow…

But are my friends good results from increased strength? I don’t think so. A good drive can be very helpful to your game, but it doesn’t normally put a disc in the basket. When it comes to drives, longer isn’t always better. If you are playing a course with 600 foot par 3’s, you may need the long drive, but most holes around here are from 210 to 325 foot. I don’t need more power, I need more accuracy. A 500 foot drive won’t help me if it is 500 feet in the wrong direction.

With regard to running, I just have to laugh. Disc golf is a wonderful activity. It is exercise, just like bowling. Like bowling, disc golf can be played while drinking beer. I do not think that marathon level fitness is going to make my disc golf game better.

If there was one thing I could power up it would be my brain. I threw three shots today that would have been different if I was concentrating. Sometimes drinking beer helps this aspect of my game, sometimes… not so much. All in all, this game (and it is a game) is about having fun. Grow big muscles, run a marathon, get smarter, but do not use disc golf as an excuse for these activities. Have fun doing these things, but when you are ready to have fun and play some disc golf, give me a call. I probably won’t be much better, but I will still be having fun.

A beautiful course on Wasatch Front in Utah, yes it was fun!

A beautiful course on Wasatch Front in Utah, yes it was fun!

Putting Practice

Those of you who play with me won’t believe it, but I practice putting. I believe practicing

Practice may not make perfect, but it can make better...

Practice may not make perfect, but it can make better…

my putting has helped my arm strength and my putting. When I first made the commitment to practicing my putting, I worked on form: throwing with a straight arm, turbo putts, straddle putts, etc. and I found my putting got consistently worse. Then I watched a Mark Ellis video about putting with confidence and devoted myself to this task. This program of practice helped me develop the mental ability to putt well – within my limits.

Now that I have confidence built up that I can make 95% of putts within 20′, it is time to begin a new practice routine and start putting from much further out. Initially this will destroy my confidence and will likely require a change in form – which may destroy my current putting ability (and further erode my confidence). If I am lucky, I will develop an accurate distance putt and maintain my current short-range proficiency.

That is the cool thing about disc golf (or life for that matter), no matter how good you are you can always improve… I hope.