Monthly Archives: June 2010

Planning the big tour

There are so many great disc golf courses in Michigan that I wish I could visit them all, at least once.  It would be nice to be able to say that I’ve tried them all and I have my favorites that I think you should check out.  I think that would really help boost my coolness level here on the blog, don’t you?

Well, I am working on this goal.

At the beginning of August, I will be touring the west site of the state with my brother-in-law, Mario, and my father-in-law.  We are planning a weekend of hitting about eight courses, four a day.  I believe that’s a nice amount, considering drive time, finding the course, figuring out the course, and then moving on to the next one.  Oh, and we plan on trying to stop by some Michigan breweries as well…so that might slow down our progress a bit.

The eight courses have been picked.  This past weekend, we got together and poured over the book Disc Golf Michigan, a book that I have talked about before (see here).  There is a great map at the beginning of the book that shows you where all of the courses are, and we used this to guide our way north and then again back south.  We are planning to head up toward Big Rapids and then come back south closer to the coast, making stops in Grand Rapids and Holland.

Courses in Michigan

Here is a map of courses in Michigan. Courtesy of Disc Golf Michigan

In the next couple of weeks I plan on mentioning the courses we going to, giving my initial reactions to the reviews that I read and if I find online posting the maps.  I also plan on doing a lot more practicing, sharing my results and what I need to improve on.  Obviously, if you have advice, please share it with me, I’ll take it.  And finally, I’m planning on creating a t-shirt for the three of us to wear, so I’ll share the designs and get your opinion on them.

Hopefully you enjoy this little adventure and tour we are going on, and maybe inspire you to do one as well this summer.

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Doing it Chicago Style…

I was in the Windy City this weekend and got to hit a nice little 9-hole course with the family.

This puts my weekly disc golfing count to two.  I”m hoping to be able to head out this weekend,  I need to warm up for the big West Michigan Disc Golf  tour (trying to think of a name).

My wife and I were in Chicago visiting some friends and then heading over to her sisters for Father’s Day.  While there, the boys all went over to Oak Brook Park to try out a course I’ve only been to in the dead of winter.  It was a lot different with out the snow but with leaves on the trees.  Being a 9-hole course it was perfect for the young ones and easy for us to leave early when it was time to start the BBQ.  The nice thing is that it wasn’t that easy of a course.  There were a lot varied holes, from some that were open to others in the trees, there was also a challenging one that had an out-of-bounds area.  I know that most courses have those areas, but this one was in a spot that forced you to ride the edge of the trees until you got to the basket.  Our first time around, my disc didn’t listen to me and it went straight into that area, but I made the stroke up by getting to the basket on the next throw.  The length of the holes weren’t short either, I believe the last hole reaches around 350 – 400 feet, with a little rain run-off running through the middle of it.  I think if you are in the Chicago area, and you have some time to kill, look it up.

As for my game… I did shorten up my warm up time, and usually did one over our par(which was three, for the kids it was four) on the majority of the holes.  But, the warm up time was horrible.  I have no excuse for it (though I am sure I could come up with quite a few of them…), I just wasn’t doing what I should.  On hole two and hole six (the second time around) particularly.  Both of those were pretty embarrassing.  So, I should probably share them with you so that I can see what I did and hopefully correct it in the future.

They weren’t horrible, it’s not like my pants fell down or I couldn’t hold my bowels anymore, but in the world of disc golfing they weren’t great.

On hole two, about five feet to the right of the pad is this pretty nasty bush/tree thing that pretty much morphs into a mini forest that follows along with the hole.  Anyway, it should be easy to stay on the fairway, there is nothing directly in front of the pad.  But, I decided for some random reason that I wanted a challenge, so I threw my driver directly into the that nasty bush.  STRAIGHT INTO IT. I had to basically embark on an expedition into the woods to find the disc, and then come up with some sort of trick to get it out, because the limbs and branches above me created a better ceiling than being in a house.  By the way, I’m looking to coming up with a saw blade that you attach to a disc to help you get out of a wooded area, anyone interested in helping me with this?  I had to bowl the disc out and start from there.

On hole six it wasn’t anything as drastic as that, but just basic crappiness on the throws and where they ended up.  This hole had a giant pine tree near the beginning  of the hole and then the fairway was sorta like an ink spot with random bulges of tall grass and trees.  So, you really want to keep your disc straight, otherwise you end up in some bad spots.  Which is what happened to me.  First I did an overhand throw from the pad and it landed right in front of the pine tree, meaning I had to find my way around it.  Which I tried to do, yet the pine tree had some hands on it and it grabbed my disc and put it on the other side of the tree.  Again, not helpful.  The next throw ended up where I didn’t want it to, a result of letting the disc go too early, and I had to find my way out of a secret grotto that was no where near the basket.  Even the kids were staying in the fairway or landing in idea spots for some great shots.

Those were the really memorable shots from the weekend.  I only tried my forehand throw once, and that didn’t do anything special.  However, I did  use my overhand throw a lot more, with pretty good results.  I’m happy to say that those throws got just as far as my father-in-law’s throws.  I think they could go further, but it’s a good start.  My putting was a bit better this time around.  I was pulling off some of the average distance putts, meaning that they weren’t crazy putts, but the type of putts I should be getting.  This is good, because you don’t want to waste a stroke on a putt that should make it in.  And this also meant that a lot of my mid range throws were doing better, at least in the point that they were getting closer to the basket.  I still think I could improve the mid-range throws.  I’m still letting go at random times.

Another thing that I’m not sure I mentioned yet on this blog, is the choice of disc.  I do think there is some importance in what disc you pick for your throw.  I know earlier I mentioned my practice of going to the park and throwing my discs around, but I don’t think I went into detail about which disc did what.  I’m not sure if I’m at the exact point of being able to tell you which disc is best for you, but I’m getting close to the point of knowing why I pick certain discs.  For instance, I know that my Leopard and Shark will go really straight if I throw it right.  There is no fade with them, basically they will go where I point them, while others will fade left or right.

So, overall it was a great day out there and I think if I go out this weekend, I’m sure I will see some improvement.  Any advice on picking the right disc for the right throw?

GOAL

Reach that par

Improve my throws (forehand, backhand, overhand)

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Yes and no.  I did get close to par and the majority of holes, and my overhand throw is improving.  However, I’m not sure my backhand or forehand throw has seen much improvement in the last couple of weeks.

PROBLEM

Again, being scared of trying to do a throw.  I think especially when going with a group of people, I get nervous and fall back on what I know.  When, I really should just be trying new things because nothing is riding on this.  And trying the new things obviously will mean improvement.

SOLUTION

Not being scared and just forcing myself to try and try and try.  Only way to do it.  Force myself to do six holes all right handed, and then the next time, nine holes (unless it just doesn’t make sense to do that).

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It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity…

I’m slowly getting back into a rhythm and I’ve been able to go disc golfing two Saturdays in a row.  It’s amazing, I know!  I can see how excited you are for me…

It did feel good, even though the first Saturday was extremely hot and sticky. But, anytime I am out on the course and I hear the chain rattle in the basket, I am happy I’m out there.

Let’s talk about that first Saturday now and then in my next post I’ll talk about the second Saturday.

My father-in-law and I headed down to Three Rivers to check out the north course  at Meyer Broadway.  We had gone to the original course a couple of times, but didn’t know about the north course until picking up the Disc Golf Michigan book and talking to people at the course.  The north course is a ton of fun, with a lot of open fields to test out some of your long throws.  Plus, some good wooded holes that gave it some nice spice.  I don’t have much to complain about that course, except maybe the lack of direction to find each hole.

Some of the holes were pretty obvious, but the middle nine were a little difficult to track down.  Two of the wooded holes, I believe seven and eight, were laid out in a way where it looked like you were shooting for the seventh basket yet that was really the eight one.  Basically, hole seven’s fairway was the same fairway for hole eight.  The basket of hole seven was to the right of the fairway, in a little clearing next to a wicked little swamp.  Which was really nasty considering it had rained the day before, you had to be real careful with your putt, otherwise that putter was gone.  The basket for hole eight was at the top of the fairway and a hill.  But standing at the pad on hole seven, it looked like the basket on hole eight was your basket.  Would have cost me a shot if we were playing in a tournament.

Besides that little issue, I highly recommend the course.  In fact, the entire 36 holes at Meyer Broadway would make a great day.  With a nice little pavilion in between the two courses you could have a fun little tournament with some friends.

Now, I guess I should talk about how I did.  I was worried about my game, because I haven’t gone out that much, it was a new course, and the heat was horrible.  However, I want to say I was about fifty percent on.  Which means I kept myself at about average.  I didn’t go down in skill, but I certainly haven’t improved either.  It is still taking me about nine holes to warm up and get a good throwing arm, but that’s not to say the nine holes are consecutive.  A couple of the early holes on the north course worked out in my favor, giving me par and excellent throws.  And some of the later holes gave me a horrible case of random throws to the middle of nowhere that cost me any stroke advantage I could of had.  What this really means to me and my progress is stamina and being able to keep my energy up for all 18 holes, as well as being able to get out of the gate at a good speed.  Those first couple of holes could cost me the entire game.  Unless I can really catch up on the back nine, I would be behind the entire game and never be able to catch up.  Any golfing advice on starting strong?

One thing that I believe ties into the dip in my game is the stopping and hunting for discs.  Here at Meyer Broadway all of the holes that are in the fields have thick tall grass around the fairway, making it difficult to find a disc, that might have flown in there.   We spent a lot of that day trekking through the grass trying to find our discs.  This stops any momentum you might of had, and causes you to throw from a position that might not be that great to start from, as well as possibly lose a disc.  I feel like it would almost be worth throwing a shorter distance that you know will land in the fairway, then to go all out and have to spend 10 minutes digging in the grass.  Which also would save you from having wet discs.  With the humidity the way it was, every time it went into the grass, the disc came out slick and difficult to hold on to.  Make sure to have a towel with you when you are playing there.

I tried the overhand throw a bit more this time around, with positive results.  Especially in the wooded sections of the course.  I was lucky enough to find the corridor between the trees and have my disc go it’s entire distance with out hitting a tree.  That made me feel good on a number of holes where my father-in-law’s disc smacked into a tree trunk.  My forehand throw is still not where it should be, though sometimes it looks pretty.  I do love the flight path of the forehand throw, when it’s thrown properly.  I think too, if you aim for the pretty throw, it will probably go further and do what you want.  You don’t want a lame floppy disc flying out of your hand, that is bound to end poorly.

Overall, I’m happy to be able to semi-regularly get out to the course, and happy that my game didn’t go completely down the crapper.  I wish it would be a bit more regular… but I have a strong feeling that most people won’t be able to get out all the time, with life happening.  I plan on heading out there again, which I feel is only necessary to get a good idea on a course.  Have you had a chance to hit the course in the last couple of weeks?

GOAL

Hit par

Keep my disc in the fairway

Improve forehand throw

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

No.

I didn’t do any of these things.  I think I might have hit par on one or two holes, but not enough to justify it being a reached goal

PROBLEM

I will say that with a new course, comes the added challenge of figuring out each hole, therefore taking away from the ability to improve.  You are forced to focus on finding the basket, understanding the hole, and knowing where not to throw.

SOLUTION

Try to get past the new course challenge.  Considering that I want to try new courses, I should be able to easily adapt.  Therefore, I need to work on varying the courses I go to around here in Kalamazoo, keeping myself guessing on the holes.

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Is this wrong?

Life happens.

And when you think it’s slowed down to a point where you can manage it, something else comes and throws a turbo boost under your wheels and you are speeding along the track at a pace where you can’t see everything again.

This is how you lose track of your goals.  Such as trying to get better at disc golfing by going out to the course as much as possible.  I was hoping that having this blog would help focus me on that goal.  It has, but in a way to make me mad at myself for not being able to reach this goal.    But, I do think about disc golfing a lot, especially trying to come up with great ideas for this blog for times such as this.  Times where I don’t get to go out to the course as much as I want.  I guess this is a good test at my time management skills.

Which somewhat leads me to this post.  Life.  As in my wife and I are looking for new house and all I can really do is look at the backyard and ask myself: “is this yard big enough to practice disc golf in?”

Is that wrong?

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Discovery of the forest dwelling basket

This was a great weekend for disc golf and it felt great to hit the course and toss some discs.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to hit the course (I know I keep whining about it, but that’s the point of this blog, duh), but there wasn’t any rust on these throws and I think I actually saw some improvement this past Saturday.  Also, it was great checking out a new course, Lake Township Park over by Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan.  A nice course that I think you should check out if you are over that way.

Let’s talk about the course first, because it has an interesting hole and one hole that I guess is a premier hole.  Both of these holes are worth talking about in detail.  First, to start off, the course is in a nice sports park and was originally nine holes, but recently moved up to a normal 18 hole course.  Being part of a sports park, I think there is somebody there to take care of the course or nobody knows this course exists.  I didn’t see any garbage around any of the holes (a major pet peeve of mine that I’ll talk about soon), which was surprising because I didn’t see very many garbage cans around.  They had maps at hole one, which I liked because some of the pad placement was a little funky.  The majority of the holes were short, around the 200 foot mark, making you feel like a superstar with every drive.  Not saying that it was an easy course.  The first nine holes were in not quite a forest (you’ll here about that in a second) but some sort of hilly tree area.  So, they placed a lot of the baskets right on the other side of a tree, making you almost have to come around the back-end of the basket.  After that there were some open holes, those were the ones that had some length, hitting 400 feet.  And a couple of the holes were on the edge of the park, testing your fence climbing skills if you had a stray throw or the wind was deciding to be evil and wanted to grab your disc.

Now, the two  holes that I think need to be discussed at a bit of detail.  Hole 3 and hole 11.  Hole 3 for it’s apparent notoriety and hole 11 for it’s ridiculousness.

Before going camping this weekend, I did a little research on if there were any disc golf courses around Warren Dunes, and Lake Township was the one.  Well, in everything I read, they said hole 3 was the hole to look out for.  According to Disc Golf Course Review and the PDGA website this is the trademark hole.  My question: why?  It’s a straight shot from the pad to basket, 492 feet, with a fence on your right and some trees around the basket.  Yes that fence could be a problem, but for most people who throw right handed and do a back hand throw, that disc is going to go left, away from the fence.  And yes 492 feet is a long hole, but not the longest one I’ve seen (that was a course in Illinois, the hole was over 900 feet I think and the longest in the state).  There is a little worry that your disc might go rogue and go deep in the woods that is on the other side of the fence, but it’s a very very tiny worry.  I guess if you are playing tournament rules, you might have a little trouble with this hole because there is a parking lot and sidewalk that you have to throw over, and if you land on them that is usually considered out-of-bounds.  But,  there were five of us out there and I don’t think anyone landed on the out-of-bounds area.  I hit par on that hole, and I would have gone one under if it wasn’t for a stray tree branch that was in my way.

If the disc golf sites are going to consider hole 3 the trademark hole, I wonder what they would consider hole 11?  The park is broken in half with a thick forest separating the soccer fields from the baseball diamond and pond.  This forest is actually labeled as a “Boy Scout Trail” and does have a couple of trails going through it.  However, hole 11 must of been created by someone that has never heard of the word “fairway” or “lawnmower.”  Trying to find the pad was a beast, and then trying to find the basket was like going on an expedition in a newly discovered jungle forest.  There was underbrush every where.  Nothing was cleared out.  And I don’t think anything had ever been cleared out.  You were throwing blind from the pad, definitely needing a spotter to help keep track of your disc.  I guess there were tiny bike paths along the sides of the woods, but nothing you could use to help you throw from a clear area.  I highly recommend using the overhand throw for this hole.  We had to hunt down the basket first, which again, didn’t have a “green,”  then we had to station a couple of people in the woods to help spot, and after we threw, we took over for the spotters to throw.  It was a big process to get to the basket.  I can’t imagine trying to do that hole either by yourself or after a rain.  It would be full of bugs and just plain nasty trying to go through it.  I have a picture on my phone that I’ll post to show you the insanity of the hole. The picture speaks for its-self.

Hole 11
This is at about the halfway point of the hole. As you can see, nothing was cleared.

I went to the course with my father-in-law and my nephews.  This course was perfect for my two youngest nephews because of the shortness of the holes.  They had a great time on the course, challenging each other, figuring out the yardage equivalent of each hole, and trying out our different discs.  It is funny to watch them come up with reasons for wanting to use different discs, usually having something to do with the color or how one of us older guys did with a disc.  Made me laugh and think about why I have so many discs.  Do I really need the ten discs I have in my bag?  Why do I switch to a Roc or Shark or Leopard on the fairway?  Is there really that big of a difference between my Pro Star and Pro Beast?  Could I do just as well with one or two discs?  I have gone into some detail on testing out my discs, so I guess I can say there is a difference between all of them.   I really think it has to do more with the golfer than the disc.  However, we gave them a new disc when they asked and it made them feel good and that’s all that really matters.

One thing that should have shocked me, but didn’t, again having talked about it, was that they were really good at the forehand throw.  It’s pretty sicking to see how easy it is for them to just whip a forehand throw like it’s nothing and have it go exactly where it should while my throw wobbles off into a bunch of trees way to close to count for any type of throw.  I’m glad they can do the throw and that they can get out on the course, they keep it up and they will be major competition for some of the guys that are pros.

As for me, like I said above, I did see some improvements on my game and I feel good about it.  My drives are going a lot further, cutting down my mid range drives usually by one whole throw.  On hole 17, which is a long hole, around 500 feet, I got within putting range in two throws.  It did go a little further right than I wanted, having to do with me letting go at the wrong time, but it was still easy to recover from.  My putting wasn’t too bad.  I got a couple of putts I didn’t think I could get and some that I thought I would get, I bombed.  I’m having a hard time hitting the chains on the right side of the basket, and I can tell it’s a problem because my putter keeps passing the basket on the left side.  So that is something I need to work on with the practice basket.  Another thing I noticed was that the type of basket can make a difference.  They have Innova baskets, which have this plastic ring around the top that your putter can use to bounce off of.  I’m use to the metal pieces that a lot of other baskets have, which usually just stops the putter and drops it into the basket.  The plastic ring however, gives your putter enough bounce to push it away from the basket and back to the ground.  I did try doing more forehand throws, but those still gave me results I didn’t want.  My overhand throw did come in handy for some of the holes(as mentioned above) and I do feel like it’s something that I want to pursue further.

It was a great time and I do recommend you try out the course.  For the five of us, including three children, it took just about two hours.  I can imagine it taking a lot less time for people who disc on a regular basis.  So, if you are driving to Chicago from Kalamazoo, or the other way around, stretch your legs and go to Lake Township park (it’s like two minutes from the highway, but doesn’t feel like it when you are actually at the park).  It’s possibly going to be our starting point on our trip of  Lake Michigan courses, being an ideal meeting point for my brother-in-law in Chicago.

What course did you go to this weekend?  Have you been to Lake Township park before?  Disagree with my assessment of hole three?  Let me know.

GOAL

Reach Par

Improve Overhand Throw

Improve Forehand Throw

Beat nephews

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

I reached par on probably 60% of the holes, which isn’t too bad, but I don’t think it’s worthy of goal accomplished.

My overhand throw did me well.  I think if I keep it up it could do even better.

I think I did beat my nephews, though the 15 year old was really close to my score.  That’s what they get for being young, losing!!!!

PROBLEM

Forehand throw still needs a lot of work.  It’s really wobbly and goes right way too early.   I’m sure this just goes back to me letting go to early.

SOLUTION

Do not be afraid to try the forehand throw.  I think my biggest problem is that I’m a bit too competitive and am scared to waste a throw that might not go anywhere.  But this causes me to not practice a throw that needs to be practiced before it gets better.  So, I need to just force myself to do one whole disc golf game  forehand.  Eighteen holes in a row of forehand throwing should be good practice.

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