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A little of my disc golf history, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I moved to New York City.

No disc golf there.

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

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

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

Well guess what?  It is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOAL

Better Putting

Further distance with my drives

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED?

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

PROBLEM

Still letting discs go at weird times.

SOLUTION

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

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Practicing Disc Golf

Yesterday was my first “official” day of practicing disc golf.  You may ask yourself, how do you practice disc golf?  Wouldn’t it just be easier to go out on the course every day?  The answer to that is, probably.  The best way to practice would be just to do it.  But, I’m sure any master of their craft would tell you that you should probably break the craft into pieces and do each piece until you get it right.  So, if I would like to be a master, I should break the craft of disc golf up into pieces.  The pieces? Putting and the drive.

I have read from multiple places that putting is the most important part of disc golf.  I’m sure it’s the same way for regular golf as well.  The skill of being able to hit the chains on the basket from 20 feet away is something you wish you had when you are standing there staring at that basket.   Getting the disc in from that distance would save you a throw and give you some bragging rights 🙂  I think that most people can throw a disc far, but it takes some skill to not have to get your disc a foot from the basket to putt.  So, you practice throwing your putter into that basket.  I don’t have a practice basket, but I should be borrowing one soon from Paul, so I won’t go into that practice yet.  But, I can cover the drive part.

If you have been following this blog, you know that I am having a problem with letting go of my disc too soon.  For whatever reason, my hand just lets go and the disc hooks to the left a lot sooner than I want it to.  I can usually get warmed up and by the end of the course I’ll have more control over my grasp, but by that point the game is over and I am way over par.    So, until I get that basket, I want to practice on my drive and I want to know where I am putting my disc.  If I want the disc to go straight, I want to have the confidence of knowing that the disc is going straight.  That’s the same for if I want it to go left or right.

Yesterday I went to the park with my discs and started throwing them.  There was a clear mark for my “tee” and there was a tree pretty far out in the distance that I aimed for.  I threw all of them, even my chipped Beast (I have  pro beast too).  I have never done that before, so it was interesting to see where all of the discs would end up.  My practice was two-fold, I was able to test where my discs would fly and I was able to practice my control.  I found that my Pro Beast would go the furthest and that my Roc and Leopard would go the next furthest.  Now, I could go into a lot of detail about the plastic and the differences between Pro and DX, but I’ll save that for later.  Right now I just want to say that it was great to see what would fly, where they would end up, and if I had the control to put them where I want.  Near the end I started to have that control, but I think I need a lot more practice.

Any practice advice?  Do you have a favorite disc that you use?

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