Monthly Archives: May 2010

Memorial Day = Disc Golf?

This upcoming three day weekend is a perfect opportunity to go out and hit the course.  I mean come on, it’s three days of no work (for most of us, sorry for those that have to work on the weekend, but I’m sure you probably have your own weekend, so you can figure it out) I’m sure you can find a couple of hours to go out to a park and toss a disc at 18 baskets.  Since this is usually considered the start of the summer, what better way to kick off the start of the season with a great game?

I know that I will be going out, finally, and to top it off it’ll be a new place for me.  I plan on checking out Lake Township Park, over by Lake Michigan.  Looks like a neat place, apparently hole 3 is their premier hole, which is a straight shot along a tree line.  Actually, a lot of their holes look like straight shots, which should be interesting for me, since I’m more of a zigzag guy.  And it looks like the course is on a park, with hole 9 going over a soccer field, which will be interesting if people are playing soccer.

I’ll be going with my father-in-law and my nephews, which should be fun.  They have gone before, so there won’t be any teaching, only schooling!!! 😉

Life has been crazy the last couple of weeks, so I’m really looking forward to finally being able to hit the course again, helps get me in my zone.  And besides, I need to get ready for the big plans my family has at the end of the summer…something about a major tour of the disc golf course on the west coast of Michigan, updates to follow…

Enjoy the sun this weekend, go out to a course, and aim for the chains!!

*by the way, let me know what you did this weekend.  Tell me if you went out, how you did, and what course you went to.

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A little of my disc golf history, part 2

When I last left you on my personal history of Disc Golf, (click here for part 1) I was leaving to go to Crystal Lake, IL.  It was there that I really got to experience disc golf and all it haves to offer.  I got to try out many different courses in the area, see how the pros do it, and watch my disc collection grow.  I think that time in Crystal Lake helped make disc golf more than just a passing thing and grow it into something I want to do for the rest of my life.  I’ll try to take you through that time and share some of the highlights that got me where I am today.

Working the third shift in a new town makes it kinda rough to meet people or spend time with your new wife.  With my wife working a normal 9-5, my mornings and afternoons were free to do what I pleased.  At first it was mostly just video game playing.  My last year at school was intense, so I took this newly free time to catch up on what was important to me, my Playstation 2 and a stack of games needing to be finished.  However, it was the summer time and the sun was out, so after a bit it seemed weird to stay indoors.  I had to do something outside….then I looked around my office and saw my stack of discs, and it dawned on me, “There’s gotta be a course around here somewhere.”  A quick search through the PDGA website showed that there were two course within a mile of my place.  One was a 9-hole course and the other 18.  Perfect.

Lippold Park and Hanna Beardsley Middle School were the two course I found, and I soon became really familiar with both of them.  I think once you hit the point of knowing in your sleep where the trees, baskets, wind, and pads of a course are  you’ve gone to the course a bit much.  That’s the way it was for Lippold Park.  I went to that one quite a bit.  It was an awesome course, with open fields, forest, and some long holes to make the course challenging enough to keep you coming back for more.  The Middle School was the 9-hole course, with each hold under 200 feet.  Fun place to go when you only have half an hour, because you should be able to whip right through that one with no problem.  It was around a school, so some of the issues came in with either hitting the school, or dealing with the students.  I also think it was a good place to take new people, because they could get a feel for the game, and not get overwhelmed by 18 holes.

I tried hitting Lippold Park once a week, similar to what I am trying to do now.  Going by yourself is a little different than with a group, and I think I’ll talk about that more later, but for now just know that for me at that time, I tried to hit the course when no one else was there.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself too much in front of the other people out there.  And I also wanted to take a little time with my drives and mid range throws.  Just for the sake of getting it right.  I couldn’t always do that, because it was a great course.  But, it was fun by myself, I have some good memories of that course.  Once, right after I picked up my Roc I went to Lippold to try it out, and I think on hole 10 I threw my Roc right into a tree and almost lost it.  I was digging through that tree for 30 minutes and was just about ready to give it up.  As I was ready to walk away from that brand new disc, I decided to take one last look around and decided to look a little more up in the trees this time.  Sure enough, that disc was stuck up in some branches.  It’s always the way.  My advice to you, just keep looking and cover every inch of the space, it’s gotta be there.

That wasn’t the only time the Roc gave me grief at Lippold.

My father-in-law and I were there during the winter, and when we started it was still light out, but the sun went down really fast that day and added another challenge to the game, playing in the dark.  Well, the Roc is a white disc, and when it’s snowy and dark, it can be a pain to try to find a white disc.  Hole 14 or 15 is a hole that starts in the woods, goes through some sort of garbage-y meadow and ends with the basket on the opposite side of a line of trees.  It’s a great hole, but that meadow is a pain, because it either becomes swamp-like in the summer, or just collects snow in the winter.  And this night was no different.  My Roc went straight into the meadow and must have buried itself under the snow, because we could not find it.  We covered that ground like we were looking for a body.  We did a shuffle through that meadow, going from one side to the other, one line at a time trying to find it.  In the dark, it was impossible.  Deciding to finish up the course and come back the next day, I had to trust that no one else would find it and get a free disc.  The rest of the course was a blur.  Early the next morning, with the sun shinning down, it was really easy to find the disc.  The snow was covered in our footsteps, except for the one tiny patch where the disc had landed.

Another great memory at Lippold was the tournament that I covered for the newspaper.

http://ssm.nwherald.com/northwest-herald/video/20070703discgolf/disc-golf/

*That’s a link to the video I shot while attending the tournament.  (For some reason I couldn’t embed it in the blog, but the link should work, let me know if it doesn’t)

I think the video speaks for the fun I had there.  It was an amazing time and that is a goal of mine for the future, to participate in a tournament.  While following around the different golfers, I was able to get some good advice on how they got as good as they were, I got to observe the different throws, and see all the different levels of player.

After shooting this video, I was really inspired to step up my game.  It was right after that I picked up my disc golf bag, bought the Roc and tried new things with my putts and drives.  They were the ones that told me the Roc was the best disc to have in your bag, and that they use it for everything.

I think it was around that point, that I really wanted to take my game up to the next level.  Before that, it was just something fun to do outside with friends and family.  It’s cheaper than golf, easier to get people together, and I could find a course relatively easy.  But, seeing these guys on the course and what they could do, showed me that I could do it.  I could throw my disc that far, I could get amazing putts, I could even get an ace.  I was on top of the world staring down at a basket.

Then I moved to New York City.

No disc golf there.

After two years of emptiness, I moved back to Kalamazoo and picked up my discs the next weekend, and that pretty much leads you back to the beginning of this blog.

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Nobody Died!!!!!!!!

We survived!!!!

Not that I was expecting any less.  But come on, I’m sure you have siblings and sometimes you have disagreements.  And when you haven’t done something with a group, you are not sure how it’s going to go, and when you are doing something for the first time with family, well, you never can tell what is going to happen.

My family isn’t crazy…well, no crazier than any other family.  So, I wasn’t expecting us to kill each other.  Actually, it was a ton of fun and I hope that we keep this up.  The only thing was that my sister didn’t get to come out with us.  I guess there was some miss-communication.  But, it’s all good.

We went to Cold Brook Park, which is near Galesburg.  It’s a big course–24 holes.  But, they are all pretty short holes.  I think the biggest one that I found was like 400 feet.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  It has a lot of trees, so I can imagine that is why they are short holes.  The holes are all marked and have nice pads.  I guess they do a lot of tournaments there.  I have gone to this course once before.  I remember liking it, and I wasn’t disappointed this time around either.  Just because the holes are short it doesn’t mean they aren’t difficult.  A lot of the holes are on hills and dog leg to the right.  Plus, like I said there were those damn trees.  Always in just the right spot too.  Right when you think you have a great throw going for you, BAM! right into the trunk of a tree.  Yet it didn’t hold me back.  I actually did a pretty good job.

I should tell you that I didn’t disc my normal way.  I believe I have stated somewhere in this blog that I usually go for a par four.  But, my brother usually does a par three.  So, for the sake of a challenge, I went for the par three.  It was a fun challenge.  I only hit par two times, but I did hit four the majority of the time.  Doing that helped me reach one of my goals of this blog, hitting par.  I feel really good about that.  I threw pretty strong, my putts were some what on and I did hit some trees, but I never went deep into the garbage, in fact I stayed really close to the fairway on each hole.

Since there were a ton of trees, I decided this would be a good opportunity to try my right hand (or forehand) throw more.  One or two of the throws rocked, it wrapped around the trees and went where I wanted it.  But, the majority of the right handed throws still cut way too early.  The other throw I tried a bit more was the over hand throw.  Which was a great idea for Cold Brook.  My brothers both use that throw quite a bit.  In fact, I got some good advice about that throw.  By putting one of your fingers inside the disc and another one on the edge of the disc, and not throwing it like a baseball, but more like a flick above your head, you can get some great distance. This throw will usually flatten out and go more toward the right.  If you want to get it to go straight and maybe a bit to the right, aim the inside of the disc toward your head, with the thumb on the inside. This throw will cause your disc to almost do a S and land straight from where you are standing.  I’ll have to try it a bit more to get use to it, but they both did it and it went a lot further than expected.

My brother, Jay has gone disc golfing for years.  But, this was the first time that I went with him.  I wasn’t sure what his style on the course was going to be like, maybe he does things a little differently than I usually do with my father-in-law or my friends.  The par three thing was one, but I didn’t know his thoughts on throwing, letting people pass, the extra curricular activities that usually happen on the course, as well as other things.  But, for the most part he was right inline with me.  Which was great, because having two different worlds collide might not lead to a good disc golf game.  It is nice to have a different view on the game and to try things a little different.  I learned some things, like I said, and I also got to see how someone else throws and putts.  I think that is the best thing you can do when trying to learn something, watch how others do it.  You can see things they might do wrong, and you can see things that they did right.  I’m not in the position to critique just yet, but at least I have the ability to see what I might have done differently.

We had a great time out on the course, and I’m pretty sure we will do it again.  I’m still trying to figure out how to fit in my disc golfing with my new job and with my classes starting up again (getting my second bachelor’s degree), so I’m hoping that if I make this a routine I’ll be able to fit in with my schedule.  Any advice on how you keep disc golfing in your life?

GOAL

Better putting

Learn new throwing techniques

Reach par

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

I think I accomplished the second goal.  I learned a bit more on the overhand throw.  I also think I did pretty good at reaching par (at least my version of par and not my brothers)

PROBLEM

Still had a couple of wacky backhand throws.  Still need to practice that.  Also, my putting seemed to lack a little this weekend.  I missed some pretty easy putts, at least I thought should have been easy.

SOLUTION

I need to practice putting again.  Plain and simple.  But, I need to find a time to do that.  Also, should probably continue work on my forehand throw.

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Disc Golfing with the family

So this weekend I have plans on disc golfing with my brothers and sister.  I’ve never gone with them before, which doesn’t seem like a big thing, but they all go.  I think this might be the first time to get us all together out on the course.  I know that my brother has been going for a long time, and we have always talked about hitting the course together, but never seemed to find the time.  And I think the group he goes with is a pretty hardcore group, so I don’t know if I would be able to keep up with them.  I am interested to see how I do now, knowing that he hasn’t been on a course for at least eight months.  As for my other brother and sister, I don’t know how often they go, but they are much younger, so I am hoping that I can at least be a little better than them (can’t help the sibling rivalry, it’s just the way it is, besides they are like ten years younger, so if I can’t hold this over them, I’m in trouble 🙂 )

But, this could be a great bonding experience and something that we might like to repeat.  Gotta like the sentimental stuff, right?

I’ll let you know if this becomes a repeat event, or if this is the last time I will speak of it…

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Monday: A crazy time for Disc Golfing in K’zoo!

Who knew that a Monday evening in Kalamazoo would be a busy time to go disc golfing?

Well guess what?  It is.

Maybe it had to do with it being a the first nice day in a while.  Or it could be the fact that it  didn’t get dark until after nine.  Or it could just be that it’s fun to go disc golfing and so people try to find time to when they can.

I found this out because I went to Oshtemo with a group of my friends Monday evening and we seemed to have to wait at every pad.  Not that it was bad waiting, we still got through each hole pretty quick (we must be getting better…) but it brings up a good question: who should you let go ahead of you when the course is busy? I think a good rule is if there are less people in their group than in yours, let them go.  Or if you are stuck searching for a disc in the woods, let the group standing at the pad looking really bored pass.  But, at some point I do think you need to draw a line in letting people pass, or you will be stuck at hole 2 letting everyone go by you and you’ll never get to disc.  I think you’ll probably have a good idea of who to let pass.  Just watch them throw.  The group might have four people and you have two, but the bigger group can get to the basket in two throws while it takes you guys four or five, let that group pass.  Because they might be waiting at the pad every time you are half way down the fairway.  That isn’t fair to that group, and it will probably only cost you five minutes.  Overall, it’s just common courtesy to not be a dick and try to hog the course.

I went with a group of five, Andy, Paul, Paul’s fiance, and Josh.   This was Josh’s second time out, and I think Paul’s fiance has only gone a couple of times.  So, it was a good mix and a fun mix.  Andy still showed us all up with his crazy left handed throw.  When he let a disc go, it would just keep going.  It was pretty impressive to watch.  Josh is getting better, understanding that the way you angle the disc before the throw controls if it’s going to go up in the sky and get pushed around by the wind or if it’s going to fly close to the ground.  Paul cracks me up with his throws.  Every time he threw the disc, he chased it like a dog after a stick.  It was helpful to have a spotter, but it was pretty funny to watch.  Plus, he throws his disc like he doesn’t care what it does.  But, amazingly enough it usually does something good.  I’ve seen that from other disc golfers.  They have no routine or steps they follow, they just get on the pad and throw.  Those guys usually have the furthest throw, so maybe that is something I should try to emulate.  Maybe not concentrating on how you hold it, how you stand, what steps to take, when to let the disc go, did you grab the right disc, are you aiming where you want, did I take enough steps, is everyone watching me, am I doing this right?!!! Maybe if you just get up there and throw it, your body will figure out all of that stuff and the disc will take care of the rest.  I’ll have to think about that, just after I line up my feet with the basket and make sure that my arm is straight.

I feel like I did a pretty good job out there.  It’s been a little while since I’ve gone out ( it was April 26, see, less than a month), but it’s not like it’s been a month or anything so I wasn’t expecting a complete loss on what I’ve gained.  It is still taking me about four or five baskets before I’m finally warmed up enough to see my improvements.  My disc is getting a little further from the pad, and a little straighter, but I am still having a hard time on the control of it.  The disc still seems to want to go up higher and get out of my hand at the wrong time.  But, I did have a nice release I think at the 6th or 7th basket.  Right before I let the disc go when I was at the pad, I thought about aiming down, and that thought helped keep the disc flat and straight for a long distance.  So, I’m pretty happy about that.  My putting has greatly improved since practicing with the practice basket.  Now, I haven’t really had a chance to get out and practice with it in the last two weeks (damn job!), but I think I did gain some experience and knowledge from the practicing I did do.  I found that I didn’t need to be right on the basket to use my putter.  In fact, I was using my putter from a further distance to the basket than I have ever done in the past.  I that really helped.  The putter is a great approach disc, so I think if you are close enough to the basket to see the links on the chains, try tossing your putter.  You might not sink the putt, but you might get right on top of the basket giving you an extremely easy putt.

One thing that I did discover that I really liked was the overhand throw.  When I was out on Monday, I did have quite a few instances of my disc finding its way into the woods.  And this being Spring after a bunch of rain, the leaves were out in force.  Hence my love of the overhand throw.  It was much much easier to just huck the disc over my head and through the top part of the trees, than trying to toss it through the trunks.  The great thing about this was that the throw usually gave me a bit of distance too.  I used my Roc for these throws.  It would cut right through the leaves, go a bit further, and then flatten out and land.  But the distance gained was enough that I never felt bad about getting in the woods.  I also tried it on the 7th or 8th hole at Oshtemo, which ever one has basically a tight shoot to go through when you are on the pad.  It wasn’t something I would try to do to replace my normal drive throw, but maybe with enough practice, it could do some damage.

I also continued my practice with my forehand throw.  Getting a little better, but nothing to really report with that one.  It still cuts way too early to the right for it to be worth anything.  But, I am still trying it and not giving it up.

Overall, it was an excellent day to be out on the course, as seen by all of the others out there too.  I still saw everyone starting from the easier pad.  I don’t know why people do that, but it can be kinda dangerous there at Oshtemo, because the harder pad is usually directly behind the easy one and can make it a challenge to a.) not hit someone up there and b.) have people try to skip you when you are twenty feet behind them standing on the pad and c.) make it hard for you on the back pad to know if anyone is up on the easy pad.  So, I’m still trying to fight that battle.

Also, I’m going to try my best to keep posting regular updates at a more timely fashion (not like posting a story on Thursday about disc golfing done on a Monday *cough* *cough*), but starting a new job and getting back into my online college courses, may make it a little tough.  But, with the summer fast approaching, I’m definitely going to be out on the course more and hopefully seeing bigger improvements, so continue to watch this blog to see how I do.

GOAL

Better Putting

Further distance with my drives

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Kinda.  I did see an improvement in my putting.  Didn’t miss easy putts.  And I am getting closer to the basket in less throws, hence the easy putts.

PROBLEM

Still letting discs go at weird times.

SOLUTION

Try to hit the park again and throw my drivers.  That really seemed to help me, even if I was out there for only a half hour.

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Some upcoming tournaments in the K’zoo area

Thought I’d share some news on tournaments that I have seen coming up here in the Kalamazoo area for the next couple of weeks:

May 22 at Grand Woods (Lansing)

Capitol City Challenge

I haven’t played at this course, so I couldn’t tell you how much of a challenge it would be.  But the cost is only 10 bucks to get in, which isn’t bad.

May 23 at Robert Morris park

The Big Bob Open

It’s 16 bucks if your novice and starts at 9:00 am.

June 6 at Meyer Broadway Park (Three Rivers)

Club Dead Shoot Out

I couldn’t find any info on time or cost, but it’s something.


That’s about all I could find right now, but I’ll keep my eye for anymore that might come up.  Tournaments are fun to check out, and it’s not that expensive to play.  I watched one in Illinois for the newspaper I worked at and learned a lot of great techniques and got to see how some professionals do it.  My goal is to eventually be a part of one of these tournaments, but that might be a little bit.

Good golfing this weekend!

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Does weather mess with your disc golf?

Living in Michigan has taught us all to never trust the weather guys and to always wait five minutes for something new to happen with the weather.  So, does this life of random weather patterns mess with our disc golf game?  Is disc golf specific to the summer?  Or does it really matter what is happening on the course?

I want to say that it doesn’t matter, but we all know that it does.  I want to say that for some of us die hard fans, we don’t really care if it’s snowing, raining or windy, if the disc can fly than it’s cool.  But, it does have an impact on our game and we have to learn how to ignore the weather, or at least find ways to keep it’s impact to a minimum.

I think that some types of weather we are more use to than others.  Wind, for instance is something that disc golfers are usually always dealing with.  The best way around that is to just keep your discs close to the ground, or aim further into the wind so that your disc gets pushed the way you want it.  Another type of weather that we deal with is temperature.  Again, this is something that disc golfers are always dealing with.  Make sure you dress proper and have water, that’s the best advice I can give.  Maybe try to go a little earlier in the morning.  I hate hitting the last nine holes while dying from the heat.  I don’t know about you guys, but my body sweats like crazy, and dealing with that as well as heat exhaustion can really kill my game.  At that point, I’m not throwing to get a low score, I’m throwing to just finish the game, and that is not the way to play.  And when it’s cold, you should try to bring gloves.  You need your hands to be warm so that you can easily release the disc.   There were many times that I went out and my hands were frozen, killing any control I might of had on when I wanted to release the disc.  It’s a pretty weird feeling to have the disc in your hand and to try to throw it, only to let go way too late.  It felt like you let go earlier, but nope, that disc just got thrown into the dude on your right and you have to explain why you took a chunk out of his leg.  So, where gloves or something to keep your hands warm.

Those are just the normal types of weather that you are probably dealing with the most.  The two that are fun are snow and rain.  These are things that will probably keep you inside and away from a park.  But, I think you can have fun throwing in the snow, and rain…well…rain does kinda suck for disc golf, you can do it, but I don’t know if I think disc golf should be the first thing you think of when it is raining.  When going disc golf in the snow, again dress for the weather (hats, gloves, maybe a coat), but also be careful what color disc you throw.  Try not to throw white discs.  Those can be a real pain to find, especially when it’s soft snow and the disc sorta digs itself into the snow.  My father-in-law and I were out disc golfing in Crystal Lake, IL, and I threw a white disc in a pretty open area, but it was getting dark and the snow was fluffy and deep, causing the disc to blend in.  We walked back and forth for like an hour in the dark trying to find it, we had to come back the next day to finally find it.  So, be careful on the color of the disc.  As for wearing a coat, it is important to keep yourself warm, but make sure the coat isn’t going to mess with your throw, you don’t want it to restrict your arm or get in the way.  Also, you might warm up while you are out there, and that might suck.  It might suck because you don’t want to have to carry it around, but at the same time you don’t want to get all sweaty.  You might want to just wear a nice long sleeve shirt or maybe a fleece.  Finally, this is something you would want when it is raining as well, a towel.  Something to wipe your disc off.  It’s a pain to have a cold wet disc in your hand.  It’s slippery and not fun to hold(….that’s what she said) causing you to not have much control.  So bring a towel and clean that disc.  There is not much I can say about rain that I haven’t already said about snow.  Except, I wonder if the falling rain has any affect on weighing down the disc?  I haven’t really noticed it in the past, but maybe it does.  It can be annoying in the rain, especially if you have glasses, which get covered in the rain.

So that is my little deal about disc golf and weather.  I’m sure I’ll think of more things as I continue with the blog, which I will try to post when I think of them.  Plus, maybe you have suggestions?  Do you care about the weather when going out?  Is there anything that keeps you away from the course?

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