Tag Archives: disc golf basket

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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Kids and the disc golf basket

This weekend was a tough weekend to get out to the course.  As my last weekend as a free man (I got a job this past week, so I was prepping for that.  I’m pretty happy about the job, but just need to get use to not having a free schedule), I had some things to do that kept me from the course.  However,  I did get a nice surprise discovering that my cousin disc golfs.  And on top of that, I found that two of his kids (he has three kids, but one is like four months old) have quite the knack for throwing a disc.  Which brings me to the topic of kids and disc golfing.  I’ll probably discuss it more than once, but for now we will narrow it to the use of the disc golf basket and a bored Saturday afternoon.

My wife’s cousins were at the house planning for their wedding (see Weekend of disc golf!) and one of her cousins has three kids (like I mentioned above).  While the ladies were planning for the wedding, it was up to the guys to find something to do.  I suggested pulling out the disc golf basket and tossing some discs at the yard.  The plan was immediately accepted.  With the same eight discs that I discussed practicing with earlier (see Tossing in the basket)  we headed out to the backyard and started tossing at the basket.  It turned out to be perfect.  And I found that they were pretty good at it.

They loved doing it, throwing the disc as hard as they could.  Running to get all of the discs to have more than the other, seeing if they could hit the garage, and trying to get the small soccer ball into the basket, it was a great way to introduce them to disc golf.  Since the basket wasn’t a couple hundred feet from the pad, it gave them a clear goal: hit the chain and get the disc in the basket.  Plus, it helped me to try to teach them how to throw the disc and what to aim for.  They did really well too.  No, they didn’t get the disc in the basket every time, but they got it in just as much as me or my cousin-in-law.  One of them was a natural for a side arm throw, he picked up the disc and just started throwing it that way, I didn’t want to stop him, because he was really good.

So, here is my statement: get kids out to the course!  Take them to the park and spend an hour or two on a game of disc golf.  I have found that most places have a smaller course around, usually with nine holes (contact me and I can help you find that course), and they are usually no more than 200 ft per hole.  Just give them one disc each (probably a mid-range, like a Shark) and have fun.  Or if there isn’t a course, maybe you know somebody with a basket.  Just do what I did, set the basket up in the yard and give them a game, maybe have them try to get the disc in the basket first.

I think it’s a good thing to have kids trying out disc golf.  Maybe they will keep it up and continue as they get older.  And these kids will become pros one day.  Plus, maybe these kids will help get it even more popular and possibly get disc golf on TV.  Some might not want disc golf to get anymore popular than it is, but I don’t think it would hurt having disc golf be as popular as other sports.  What do you think?  Should it stay a little underground?  Or is it fine if more people pick up the sport?

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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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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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Great day to be out on the course

What a perfect day to be out!  The sky was clear, the temperature not too hot or not too cold, and it wasn’t that dark out.  Besides the killer wind that basically picked our discs out of the sky and threw them the opposite way, it was amazing out.

My friends Paul and Andy came with me to Robert Morris Park.  We only did nine holes because, like I said, Andy wanted to warm up to playing again, since he hasn’t gone in a while.  Plus we wanted to go eat dinner.  Anyway, nine holes was perfect because we got to play and not get tired out.

Since moving back from New York, I’ve been going out disc golfing a lot, and Robert Morris was the park that got me back into the sport.  I haven’t gone there since the beginning of March, but it seems in that time they have made some changes to the course.  The changes weren’t bad, except I loved the challenge of hole 9 (which had a huge chunk of water for you to throw over, pretty wicked).  If felt like they shrank up the holes some, but not to say they were easier.  I still had the problem of letting go too soon.  It’s funny because I know it’s happening, yet I can’t stop it.  I have to focus on holding the disc until my arm is straight.  Maybe the problem is that I am fulfilling the prophesy of knowing that I let it go early.  Anyone have any advice on stopping that?

I also seem to have the power of hitting trees dead on.  This might be tied to the letting go to early problem, so, maybe I’ll let that go for now.

My discs are flying further, which is great. But, I just need to make sure they are going the way I want them to.

Andy and Paul were great.  Whatever Andy was saying about not being good was a bit of a lie, he did really well.  He is left-handed and so it was interesting to watch him throw.  He throw the forehand way and instead of it going to the right (like it should for right-handed people) his goes left.  Different, but neat.

I’ve mentioned Paul before in this blog, so you know that he has gone out disc golfing before.  He does ultimate Frisbee, so he has a pretty powerful arm.  What’s interesting about him is that he only uses one disc for everything.  And the crazy thing is that it works.  Makes you wonder if you really need that bag full of discs…  That disc even worked for him when he was forced to throw his disc from a tree limb (gotta play where it lays…).

I didn’t reach my goal of par on every hole.  I would love to blame the wind and say that it caused the issue.  I would also love to say it was all of the other golfers on the course, maybe I was embarrassed to perform in front of them (there was this guy behind us that was reaching the baskets in one throw, no way you can look good in front of that).  But, like I stated earlier the problem was letting go too early.  Time to go to the park and practice throwing.

GOAL

Par on every hole.

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

No

PROBLEM

Letting disc go too early

SOLUTION

Practice throws until I know where the disc should go

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Welcome to Aiming for the Chains!

It’s 8:30 in the morning, you are in the woods, the sun is out, but it’s still a bit chilly.  You stand there staring at the basket, concentrating, focused on that one link in the chain.  You have your putter in your hand, in your head the disc is already in the basket, you pull back and toss it…ching!  It’s in!

Hi, my name is Matt Brandenburg and I love Disc Golf.  I’ve been playing off and on for about six years.  And I want to get better.  I want to be able to play with the big guys, the ones on the PDGA.  I am not that close yet.  However, with this blog I hope to improve.  I am going to use this blog to force myself to practice and get better.  By telling everyone how I am doing I will be able to track my scores and hopefully see improvement.

Along the way I’ll post my thoughts on the sport, introduce people to it that are not familiar with it, and hopefully get your thoughts on it as I go.

Do you play?  How much?

So come along with me and let’s see if we can get an ace or two.

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