Tag Archives: forest

The Joy of Disc Hunting…

There is one thing that we all love about disc golfing, the one thing that you can’t take out of disc golf, the one thing that makes disc golf disc golf…the hunting of your disc in the woods!

Let me set it up for you, you are on the pad looking down a 325 foot path that dogs to the left and has deep woods on both sides.  Your buddies are waiting for you and you know you have a tendency to go further to the left than you want.  You pull back, throw and listen as your buddies laugh at you because you now have to hike up your socks and put your head down as you dig through the brush to find your disc.

This is a scenario we are probably all familiar with.  And if you are not, I want to see it!  There is no way you never had to hunt for your disc at least once.  I simply don’t believe it.  Unless you go to some crazy course that doesn’t have any baskets with some woods near it.  Or at least some tall grass.   But, part of the joy of disc golf is going to some cool parks and taking the walk in nature.  I’ve been to some great courses that had me going through some nasty parts of the woods.  Especially in the middle of the summer.

It adds to the challenge of the sport.  You want to stay out of it.  While you are standing on the pad, you are thinking about how to throw your disc.  What will keep you on the green and out of those lovely woods?  I know that I think about it.  I have a pretty wicked hook that gets me in trouble.  The woods are one of the things that stick out in my mind while I’m getting ready for my drive.  I don’t want to think about it, I need to concentrate on my throw, but I hate wasting time digging through the woods, and so it stands at the forefront of my concentration.  Hunting in the woods can kill your momentum.  You also stand in the way of others.  And god forbid you are throwing a green or yellow disc.  With the sun and the leaves, you are asking for a lost disc.  

I haven’t even mentioned the actual hunt.

Just thinking about it…thorny bushes, constant fake outs of leaves and sticks looking like your disc, repeatedly looking at the same spot thinking that you hadn’t looked at it yet, and the possibility that your disc might be up in the trees.  Good times.

Now that I have brought up all of the “fun” of disc hunting, what about the solutions?  Is there honestly a solution to this problem besides just keeping the disc out of the woods?  If I could keep my disc out of the woods, more than likely it means I have a pretty good throw and then that would mean I could probably make it in some tournaments and be a lot better than I am.  But, the purpose of this blog is to get better, so the answer is no, no I can’t keep my disc out of the woods.  I let the disc go too early or too late, or I don’t line up properly and the disc ends up in the garbage of the woods.

But, what I can offer is plenty of experience foraging for discs!

Here are some suggestions:

Get a spotter out there, I know that it helped a lot when I went out on the Wolverine Cup.  It’ll save you a ton of time, because they are out there checking on where the disc ended up.  You will be surprised on how much time is saved by having someone out there pointing to the tree that your disc is leaning against.

Throw a colorful disc.  I know this isn’t super practical, because you might have to purchase some new discs.  But, if you have a red, blue, purple, or orange disc out in the brush under the trees, it’ll be a lot easier to see than a green disc under green leaves.  Plus, the color might be a bit unique making it easier to distinguish between other people’s discs.

Stop and think.  Sometimes you need to stop and think about where it could be.  If you didn’t have someone out there as a spotter, it’s tougher to spot the exact spot, but you should have a good idea where it is.  Go there and think.  More than likely the disc is near the edge of the garbage area and it is probably just under some leaves.

But, don’t get frustrated.  Walk around and look.  Think about your usual path.  You should have a good idea on where you usually throw.  That should give you an idea where it might end up.  If you have someone with you, they can help cover more ground.

As a last resort, make sure your name and number are on the disc, so that if you do lose it someone can call you when they find it.

I’m sure you all have come up with your own techniques on disc hunting while in the woods.  Take a second and share with us what you do to find your disc.

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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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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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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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A little of my disc golf history, part 1

I believe now would be a good time to share with you my humble beginnings as a disc golfer and maybe a little of why I do it.  I think it’s good to discuss how you started out, that way you know where the start is and maybe figure out the path you are taking.

I do remember my first time out on a course, it was in the fall of 2006.  My now brother-in-law, Mario, had been talking about disc golfing for a while, at the time he had been doing for a long time.

My leopard disc

This is my Leopard disc, as you can see it's pretty well worn, but that just makes it better.

I think he use to go all the time during the summer, but I’m not sure and since this is my blog we w

on’t go into his disc golf history.  (Maybe I’ll interview him sometime, just to give this blog a different voice)  Anyway, the point is that he is good at it, likes doing it, and wanted to share the experience with us.  So, Mario, my father-in-law, me, and maybe my other brother-in-law, Win, all got up early and drove over to Oshtemo.  Mario had a lot of discs so he shared them with us, I think we each grabbed two discs, a driver and a putter.  And started to tough our way through a challenging course.  Probably three hours later we walked out of the forest, muddy and in love with the sport.

It didn’t take long for my father-in-law and myself to go to Dunham’s  Sports and pick up a disc golf starter pack.  The pack came with a driver, mid-range, and putter.  In fact I still have them: Leopard, Shark, and Aviar.  (Actually, I don’t have the Aviar, I think that one disappeared in Grand Rapids)  We then started going to the Oshtemo course on the weekends.  I loved those three discs and it probably took another year before I bought any new ones.

My Shark Disc

This is my Shark Disc, again, a little worn, but can't go wrong with that. As of late, it's been my favorite.

The course has changed a bit since then.  It used to have a lot more trees, and if you go out there now you’ll see the stumps where they used to be.  They must have gotten a lot of complaints, because those trees where in some really hard spots, forcing you to throw low or really high to get around them.

I remember watching Mario throw some amazing throws, the type of throws that amaze and anger you at the same time.  It was like he had a remote or a string to guide them around the trees.  He made them look easy, and watching the way those discs flew was beautiful.  I still get amazed by how the discs float in the air, it’s like art.  Anyway, the important thing was that he gave us pointers and helped us figure out how to do those throws.  Not saying that we did anywhere as good as he did, but at least we hobbled our way through the course.

I discovered that my friend Paul liked to disc golf, so I would go with him every once in a while, and I even brought my then fiance with me.  It just got into my bones and spirit.  Maybe it’s why people hike or hunt, to be out in nature, away from the computers and traffic and daily grind of life, but whatever it is, you do feel really peaceful out there.  It was that place in my head I would go to when working at a retail bookstore or going to college started bringing me down.  I’m not saying that I didn’t get frustrated out there, trust me, when you think you have thrown an awesome throw only to have it slam into a tree truck, you are as far from peace as you can get.  But, you just have to let that stuff go.

We only went to Osthemo that first year getting into disc golf.  I don’t know if it was because we were familiar with it or if it was the only one we knew of, but either way that was the course we used until my fiance and I graduated from Western Michigan and we moved to Crystal Lake, Illinois (not the camp that Jason haunted), but a northwest suburb of Chicago.

That is the end of part 1.  Part 2 shows how my love progressed for the sport and how I was able to watch a competition and meet some great athletes.

Until tomorrow, I ask, what is your first disc golf memory?

My two babies

What is that saying? You always remember your first. Well my first was triplets, yet the two stuck around. I must be doing something right...

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