Tag Archives: putting

Nine holes of fun

I think I like a nine hole game of disc golf for a family event.  It’s not so long that you miss the actual event (a reunion in this case), but it is a great practice and taste for people new to the sport.  I got to experience this perfect mix the other week in Grand Rapids at Lamar Park.

The course is a nice little course with not much of a challenge, besides some water hazards, picnic areas, and baseball fields.  The majority of the holes are short, except for one, which makes up for the others.  The other hazard that you will run into is the that this park has a lot of picnic benches and picnic areas around, with some really close to the holes.  So, you have to look out for the people in these areas.  That part is annoying, considering hole number three has a creek on your left and a giant picnic area to the right of the basket.  When we were there, that area was full of people enjoying a birthday party with lots of kids.  Meaning that you had to make sure you had control of your disc.  You didn’t want to go fishing or piss off a bunch of parents.  The baseball fields also present a challenge, though not as bad as the moving hazard of children.  The baseball fields only presented you with the trouble of having to hop fences if your disc went over them.  Obviously not a problem if a game is not going on, but…you don’t really want to mess up a game by stopping the outfielder from catching a pop-fly.  Plus, if you are doing disc golf right, that is out-of-bounds.

Overall, it’s a great little place that I do recommend you checking out if you have some time up in the Grand Rapids area.  Just be prepared for the one hazard that really shouldn’t be a hazard, yet seems to be for my brother-in-law, Mario.

The pond.

This pond seems be a storm run-off, that just happens to always have water in it.  I guess there are fish, because there are usually people on the edges of it with fishing poles.  Well, this pond is on the far left of the ninth hole.  The way the hole is laid out, the pond really doesn’t seem to be in the way of anything.  You wouldn’t even really want to try to cut over it with a big throw, because the basket isn’t in place where it would make sense.  I could see it being a problem, because it is in your line of sight when you are getting ready to throw your disc.  And if you let the disc go too late when you are doing a backhand, it could fly in there.  But, for the most part it shouldn’t be an issue.

However, both times we have gone to this course, Mario has had to take a swim.  The first time was pretty bad, because the disc went into the middle of the pond.  The second time I didn’t get to see it, because he went around the course one more time than I did.  The funny thing was that as we stood around the pad for for the first round, we had joked about him doing it.  He said he had no idea why his disc went in the water.  So, he must have cursed himself, because sure enough, as we were sitting around the picnic area for the reunion he came back with wet shorts.  Moral of the story: be prepared for anything, and don’t mind getting wet.

Now on to my game…

I think I did a decent job.  The only hole I really had an issue with was hole number seven, which was the long one of the course.  My drive was good, as well as my second throw, however the third one that was suppose to get me to putting range bombed.  There is a step hill that follow the fairway on the right, and at the top of the hill is a street.  Well, my third throw took my way off course and almost on that street.

Otherwise, I actually kept on or just over par on the holes.  Now, I am starting to count par as three and not four.  Four is a safe bet, which is fine for me, but three makes me pretty happy.  I did this with my backhand and overhead throws.  These drives usually got me close enough that my next throw put me on top of the basket.  And I never really had to worry about my putts.

I’m feeling better for the Wolverine Cup 2010, not perfect, I need to practice a bit more.  I didn’t mention the dreaded forehand throw, because I didn’t even give it a thought.  I guess I chickened out a bit on that one.  I’m focusing on one thing a time, and that is definitely not it.  My putting and other drives have become priority right now.  I know those are my strong suits and I want to strengthen them up even more before the tour happens.

Have you been to this course?  Any thoughts on it that I missed?

GOAL

Hit par on more holes.  Increase my putting range

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

Yes on both!  It was a shorter course and that might have been the reason, but hey I’ll take a win.

PROBLEM

Biggest problem is the length of the drives.  I know most people say putting is the name of the game, but you need to be able to get to the basket to make those putts.  I want to do it in a shorter number of throws.

SOLUTION

Practice, practice, practice!  I should try to go back to the park and throw some more discs, work the arm muscle a bit.  Also, should probably go to the courses a bit more.  Since the move has been delayed, this might be possible.

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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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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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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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Weekend of disc golf!

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

FRIDAY

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

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

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

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

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

SATURDAY

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

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

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

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

I’m not bitter or anything…

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