Monthly Archives: April 2010

Tossing in the basket

Last Sunday I received my friend Paul’s practice disc golf basket.  Basically it’s a basket that you can easily set up and use either for practicing your putting or you could use it to set up your own course.  I guess it’s probably better to use as a practice basket than for a course, but if you had a bunch of them and some time and a large area you could set up a neat course.  Going a little off topic, when I lived in New York I looked up courses and they said there was one in Park Slope.  I have a friend that lives there, so one early summer day we made the trek to Brooklyn and met my friend at Prospect Park to check out the course.  Well, it turns out that you actually have to bring your own baskets and they have a suggested course for you to follow.  Not having a basket kinda put a damper on that and we played bocce ball instead.   So I guess now that I have a basket, I could take it there and try the course, but living in Kalamazoo makes that a little difficult.

Anyway on to the heart of this post and let’s talk about using the basket for practice.  I have read and talked to disc golfers and they both say that practicing putting is probably the most important thing you could do.  Being able to sink putts easily will help you shave off a throw or two and get you closer to par.  The disc golfers that I talked to at a tournament back in 2006 said that they usually practiced with it every day.  Kinda intense.  But these guys were able to usually do only two throws a hole,  I guess it paid off.  So I guess it’s important to practice putting.

I’ve only had the basket for a week and a half, but I have practiced with it four or five times and I actually have seen a bit of improvement in my putting.  I probably could do it every day, but some days it’s crappy out, other days I’m disc golfing, and other times I just don’t feel like it.  I’m trying to get better at that, I mean even doing it for 20 minutes is better than nothing.

I only have two putters, a Mercury Putter (which seems to not exist when you do a Google search for it, weird) and then a Birdie.  Obviously, it would be kind of a pain to just use those two putters when practicing.  Throwing two and then walking over to pick them up and then throwing them again is fine, but it’s probably better to have a bunch of putters to throw (kinda like those guys that practice golf putting, they usually have a bunch of golf balls).  So, being the crafty guy that I am, I grabbed the putters that my father-in-law has and then found that you can use the Shark disc as a putter as well.  This gives me a total of eight putters to practice with.  Much better.  Now if you are reading this for advice for practicing with a basket, you don’t need to have a bunch of putters, you could do just fine with one, but I think it might be a little easier if you could just have a stack next to you to practice with, won’t throw off your rhythm.

I put the basket in the middle of my in-laws’ yard, which gave me the most options to move around it and practice different length putts.  Actually, it was a little weird at first because the next door neighbors were on their porch and I didn’t feel like having an audience, so I moved it a little further away from their view and it was just fine (I’ll talk about disc golfing with an audience later, for some reason it messes with me).  I would recommend putting the basket on a flat surface, because the majority of courses have baskets on a flat surface (most of the Kalamazoo area courses do, not all of them, but most of them.  Also, you don’t want to have the basket wobbly and maybe fall over).  Plus, I think in the context of practicing your putts, your focus should be that you want to get the putter into the basket.  Being able to do that from different distances is more important than worrying about the height of the basket.  Once you can get the putter into the basket from varying distances on your first try, and you never have to worry about it not getting in the basket, then I say what the heck, if you got a hill in your yard go for it.

My first time practicing with the basket was me just getting a feel for it.  I would stand at one place, throw all of the putters, and then move to another random location.  I had no rhyme or reason on where I was going, I just wanted to get all of the putters in the basket.  This worked, since you can’t really determine where you are going to be putting from when you are out on the course.  But, was kind of a pain because you really couldn’t track your progress.    Therefore, on my next couple of times out there, I used a marker that was about 13 feet from the basket and tried to get all eight discs into the basket on one try.  If I couldn’t do that, I kept throwing until they all got in the basket, and then tried again, this time doing it in less throws than the last time.  I figure once I can throw all of them in on the first time, I’ll move back a couple of feet.

I am also practicing my holds and aims while putting.

  • What am I focusing on?
  • How do I want to hold the putter?
  • What should I aim at?

These are things that I think about while practicing.  All of the pros say that you should do the same thing every time you putt, this way it becomes automatic and helps clear your head.  You don’t want to be thinking about the guys you are playing with, or the next hole, or something unrelated to disc golf completely.  You want to focus on the task at hand, which is sinking the putt.  So, doing the same thing is kinda zen like.  Also,  they say that you should aim for a link on one of the chains.  Again, this helps with the focus zen thing you are trying to accomplish.  Plus, I think it helps you get the disc in the chains, which usually helps stop the disc and drops it right into the basket.  There is nothing so painful then having a disc smack the basket under the chains and drop to the ground.  So, aim for the chains (title of the blog makes sense now, doesn’t it? ;)).  Finally, I suggest that if you are right handed, aim for a chain on the left, and I’m guessing if you are left handed you should probably aim for the right.  This is because the disc (like I have said before) goes the opposite way you throw it.  So, aiming for the opposite side of the way you are throwing will help keep that disc going toward the basket and not just passing it.  This is a lot to think about as you putt, but trust me it’s really not this bad.  You know that you need to get your putter into the basket, so just do that.  These are just things to help you get that putter into the basket.  Most of them are probably common sense, but gotta say it.

One final thing that I noticed while practicing.  My hold on the disc is becoming different.  Usually when I putt, I hold the disc with my pointer finger on the edge of the disc.  So I have my thumb on the top of the disc, my pointer on the edge, and the rest of my fingers gripping the lip ( looks like I’m making a gun with my hand and it’s sideways).  But, for whatever reason, I’ve started putting the putter in between my pointer and middle finger.  This puts my thumb and pointer on the top of the disc and the rest underneath the disc.  It seems to help, but since I have only just started doing this, I’m not sure on the long term affect it will have.

I will continue to practice with the basket, it’s nice out, so why not.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get all eight in on one try.  My best was yesterday, I was able to get six in.  I’ll let you know when I get all of them in.

Anyone have their own unique way to putt?  If you don’t have a basket, do you practice with something else?  Do you think you need more than one putter?

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Weekend of disc golf!

It wasn’t the best weekend here in Kalamazoo for disc golf (Friday was nice, but Saturday and Sunday was all rain), but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t go out and half some fun!  And that is exactly what I did, I went out on Friday and Saturday.  Saturday was an adventure because it started to rain when we got to the first pad, and it didn’t let up, so we only did 9 holes 8 and 1/2 holes because we were soaked.  Friday was also an adventure because I took my friend Josh, who has never gone disc golfing before, and what’s the best way to learn but to teach, so put on my instructors cap and took Josh under my wing to be introduced to the glory that is disc golf!

FRIDAY

Josh has been wanting to go for a while, but is always busy.  So, when I got a text from him that he wanted to out to the course on Friday, I was excited!  In fact, I was so excited that I jumped in the in-laws van and picked him up as soon as he was ready.  Which, turned out to be a little bit of trouble, because I didn’t eat a snack and that hurt me a bit later on the course.  It’s cool though, because we had a great time and I think I converted him to the dark side.

For the sake of not wanting to pay a fee (talk about that soon), I took Josh over to the Oshtemo course, which is free.  It wasn’t too hot or too cold, though it wasn’t really sunny either.  But the wind wasn’t bad.  I don’t think the wind really effects that course too much, because of all of the trees, but for the sake of talking about the weather, it wasn’t that windy either.  There were quite a few people out on the course,  so for the first couple of course we had to wait at each pad, but for whatever reason, once we let this one guy past us, the waiting  cleared up.  Maybe people only did 9 holes?  Or maybe they started doing really well?  Who knows.

By the way, one thing that I want to ask is: why is it that every time I go out and there are people playing, they always throw from the closer pad?  There is usually two pads for people to start on, obviously one closer to the basket than the other one.  I always play from the one furthest from the basket, it adds a challenge and I think that is where the pros play from.  Why wimp out and play from the one that is 20 – 30 feet closer to the basket and isn’t behind some trees?  Seems like if are good at disc golf you would want that extra challenge.  I mean, I guess if you are just out there to say that you disc golf (I guess it makes you cool in some circles?  Don’t ask me.  I don’t have a huge following on this blog or see it on tv or very much on the web, so I don’t know how cool it makes you to say you disc golf), then you would probably want to play from the easiest pad just to get the game over with.  But, as someone that isn’t very good (but trying!) I hate waiting for a group of kids throwing from that pad, walk the couple of extra feet and come back here with me and see why disc golf is challenging and fun.

Anyway, it’s fun taking someone new out on the course and teaching them how to disc golf.  You have to try to teach them that throwing a disc is kinda similar to throwing a frisbee, but not really.  Josh did a pretty good job.  He did have a bit of a discus type throw.  You know,  where you curl your arm around the disc and then run up to the edge of the pad and whip your arm out.  But it worked.  It just hooked to the left quite a bit.  It was cool though to watch him realize that and see him compensate for it.  I didn’t want to over burden him with a bunch of things that I have read about disc golfing, so I would just give him small bits of advice, kinda tell him why I am doing what I am doing.  Also, the guy we let ahead of us was pretty good, so that was cool to watch and see what he did.

I believe that Josh had a great time.  He said that he can see what people do it: being out in nature, enjoying the quiet(unless I screwed up), not having to spend that much money, the calmness it usually creates (again, unless I screw up), and just the fact that you are having fun.   I believe that I will be taking him out to a course again.

SATURDAY

On Saturday I went to Robert Morris Park with my cousin-in-law’s fiancé, Nate.  Which, has gone out before, a lot, actually, so no teaching but still fun to do.  If you have been following this blog, then you know that I had a nice run in with Robert Morris Park last week involving the paying of fees.  So, this was a good test to see if it is easy to find the box you have to pay in.  I guess if you call a yellow post that looks like a cement post you use to stop people from hitting something, then I guess yes.  However, if I didn’t know I was looking for that, I wouldn’t have known that was what it was.  I would have thought it was a cement post you use to stop people from hitting something.  Anyway, we did pay the fee (which wasn’t listed anywhere near the post, we just guessed and paid a couple of bucks).  And as soon as we got out of the car, it started to rain.  And rain, and rain, and rain.  Luckily, the first nine holes are pretty much covered by trees, so it wasn’t that bad.

Nate is similar to Andy in that he throws left-handed, so it was interesting to watch.  The unique thing about Nate is that he did the majority holes overhand.  Which was surprisingly effective.  Especially for some of the really wooded holes, or when the hole dog legged to the right.  The disc would flip over and head that way.  I might have to give that a try.

I had some good holes, more than bad ones, so that means I am improving, which is great.  But, it’s hard to tell because of all of the rain, that definitely made the game(again, I don’t like calling it that, but haven’t thought of something better.  What do people say when they go golfing?) interesting.  The discs got really muddy and slippery, and made you try to aim away from the mud puddles that were forming around the baskets.  I guess that forced you to  be better at putting, because picking your putter up out of the mud is not fun.

The weirdest thing about Saturday was the fact that the 9th hole was missing a basket.  Now, I know they went through and changed the course up some time the last month, but as of two weeks ago there was a basket at the 9th hole.  However, when Nate and I stood at the top of the hill where the pad is for the 9th hole, I couldn’t see the basket.  I assumed it was down there and we threw our discs, but once down  there, the basket was no where to be found.  The couple that was playing ahead of us was also looking for the basket and they asked me if I had seen it.  I pointed to the places where the basket has been, usually past the nasty little pond that seems to suck up a lot of discs and has some mean geese protecting it, and where they had recently put it, which was currently a suspicious hole.  The hole looked pretty fresh too.  Did they plan on putting it somewhere else and then get scared off because of the rain?  I don’t know, but considering that we have to pay to play there, I would like to be able to count on baskets being at the end of each hole.

I’m not bitter or anything…

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Dear Robert Morris Park

I have gone to your park in Comstock for quite some time.  When there is a guy at the guard box I have paid the fee to use the park.  It’s a reasonable fee, I believe between 5 and 10 dollars.  But, when the gate is open, and there is nobody at the guard box, I assumed the fee was waived.  There is no easily visible sign, say at the entrance to the park, or maybe at the guard box, to tell me that there is still a fee.  Nothing that says you still need to pay or you are going to get a ticket.  This is exactly what happened to me on Tuesday April 20th, I got a ticket.  And it wasn’t just me that received the ticket, it was the 20 -30 other cars in your parking lot that also got the $10 ticket.

I use your park for disc golf, as I am assuming a lot of other people do too.  I don’t mind having to pay to use your park.  You guys usually keep the park clean, you have signs at all of your pads (except one I think), and I think the fee keeps some of the kids that are just there to get drunk and stoned out of the park.  But, my problem is the fact I had no idea I had to pay to use the park when it’s the winter or when nobody is at the guard box.  The sign at the front entrance has the fees to use the park, but none of them say anything about the fee for the off-season.

I talked to one of your staff yesterday to find out why I got the ticket, she was very nice by the way, and she explained that there is always a fee.  I asked her how and where do we pay that fee when nobody is there and she said that there is a mailbox on the side of the guard box.  I told her that I’ve been going there almost every week since January and I’ve never received a ticket (or seen this mailbox), she told me that she goes out all year and gives people tickets.  If people are always getting tickets there (like I said, I saw that every car in the parking lot had a ticket), why not make it much more obvious that you need to pay to use the park?  And you can’t say that it’s easy to see, because it’s not, and if that many people got a ticket, they too didn’t see that they had to pay.

I will probably buy the annual pass to use your park, because it’s a great course, and worth paying the fee for the annual pass instead of the daily pass.  But, please, please, please, make it obvious that people have to pay to use your park when nobody is at the guard box. I’m sure the majority of users won’t mind paying, because it’s better to pay than to get a parking ticket, but help us follow that law by putting the mailbox somewhere for use to easily use.

Thanks,

Matt, a disc golfer

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A ticket to getting better…

I actually have quite a bit to write about today and I’m not sure how to start it.  Like I said quickly yesterday, I was in Chicago this past weekend and so I didn’t get a chance to go out and disc golf.  But, I did get my friend Paul’s disc golf basket to practice putting, which I used on Monday.  And yesterday I went out to Robert Morris Park in Comstock and did nine holes with Andy.  Finally, I have one tiny (angry) surprise from yesterday’s session that I can’t decide if I want to share on this post or wait.  I could talk about it, but I think if I wait, I might convince you to come back to read it.  The one hint I could give is that it has something to do with the title of this post…

To follow the point of this blog, I’ll talk about the more important of the three topics and talk about me actually going out and disc golfing.  It was another amazing day out at Robert Morris, not too hot and not too cold, there was some wind, but nothing we couldn’t manage, and there wasn’t a ton of people out there causing us to wait at each pad.  Overall I did pretty good, I only had a couple of stray throws.  For the most part my throwing was good, the disc went where I wanted it.  So, I can say that the practice did pay off (not saying that I’m going to stop practicing, in fact it means that I should do more).  My putting was off and on, I pulled off some sweet putts, but then some other times the putter just wouldn’t make it in the basket.  I felt really positive about my game after finishing it up, knowing from my past experiences with this course, I believe I did the best I have ever done there.

The back nine of Robbert Morris is more open and longer holes, meaning you have to keep your discs low and have them fly far.  I’ve always had a hard time with both of those points.  I usually throw my disc high and the it just comes back down.  The wind is always stronger up there and it basically grabs the disc and it pushes it down and usually back some feet.   This time around I kept the discs lower, which helped them fly much further.  Hole 11 is a long hole, with an old fence baseball backstop about halfway to the basket and is about 483 feet  straight with the basket on the backside of the hill that you went up on for hole 10.  When I’ve played on this hole in the past I had a hard time making it to that fence from the pad.  Yesterday I was able to make it there, and then make it to the basket in two more throws.  I am really happy about this, hence the long description :).  There isn’t too much to discuss about my throws besides that one, I guess there were a couple of throws that I wasn’t proud about.  Hole 17 is another long hole that is straight with the left side of the fairway all woods.  And about halfway down, the woods covers up a deep ditch.  And trust me that ditch is deep!  I went out there with my father-in-law back in January and my disc went down in that ditch, which was a pain to get down there with snow and then even more of a pain to throw that disc up that snowy dirt wall and past the gate of trees.  I am telling you this story because I told Andy a similar story as we waited for the guys in front of us to finish up the hole.  And sure enough, the trickster gods of disc golf were listening and decided it would be a good time for me to throw a disc down that same ditch, just so Andy could see me reenact the story.  Plus, it already took me two throws to get about twenty feet from the pad.  Good times.

My putting game was good, like I said above.  I’ll go into more detail about my practicing with Paul’s basket later, but let’s just say that I had some practicing under my belt.  I have read lots of advice on putting, the best part of the advice is that you need to envision the putter going into the basket before you throw it.  Other things include focusing on a link of one of the chains, coming up with some sort of routine every time you throw, and imagining a line from your stomach to the basket.  (I’ll go into more detail in a later post)  Anyway, with this advice and some practicing under my belt, I felt a little more confident about my putting yesterday on the course.  I had some great putts and some that weren’t so great.  But, this is all for the good, a way for me to get better.  If I notice what is going wrong, I can focus on that and improve it.  So, the biggest thing I noticed is that my putting has too much power when it shouldn’t and not enough power when it should.  I either hit the basket or the putter went more to the left.  However, there were some great putts that grabbed the chains and dropped right into the basket.

Overall, it was a great day to go out and I felt really good about my game (I’m not sure what to really call it.  It wasn’t a game, but what else would you say?  Any advice on what to call it when you go out and disc golf?)  I think you are going to want to read tomorrow’s post because it’s going to be a good one!!!

GOAL

Par on every hole

Better putting

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Not really, maybe hit par on one or two holes, also half and half on putting

PROBLEM

Turning wrist to throw disc up

Not enough power or too much power on putting

SOLUTION

Practice putting from different distances, which should help with the power problem

Continue practicing driving

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I’m back and ready to hit the course!

Well I’m back from my weekend in Chicago and getting ready to head out. I hope you guys had a great weekend, maybe got an ace… I’ll give you an update tonight. Happy golfing!

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Michigan Disc Golfer Missing

It appears that a father from Traverse City, Michigan is missing.  He had finished playing disc golf and was last seen dropping off his friend.

Here is the CNN story: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-433040 and here is a link to a website set up for him: http://findjacob.info/.

Please check out those links and if you know anything contact the  Traverse City sheriff’s department.

He is a fellow disc golfer, and a fellow Michigander, so any help I am sure would be appreciated.

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Awesome coupon in Kalamazoo Gazette

I recommend that you find a copy of today’s Kalamazoo Gazette, and then dig out the Ticket section. If you do, you’ll find an awesome coupon for two bucks off a disc or disc bag at Drake’s Party Store. The coupon lasts until May 8th.

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