It’s show time!
You are standing on the tee. Today you are playing one of the better courses in your area. This hole is a great example of why. The basket is not reachable off the tee. It’s 650 feet away. Good thing you watched that YouTube video last night on disc golf driving tips!
You’ve been working on your distance for occasions just like this one. You are primed and ready to let the disc rip. You can’t wait to impress your friends. You grab your favorite Destroyer. You step up. You crush it like you’ve never crushed it before. You might have even heard the disc squeak, “ouch!” as it leaves your hand!
The rest of the group watches the disc as it sails out past 400 feet. It’s a thing of beauty that skips and flares at the end of its flight leaving you just off the left edge of the fairway. You walk off the tee pad head held high, chest out, and proud of what you just did.
After your display, you kind of scratch your head as you see that one of your friends is holding a Buzzz. Doesn’t she know this is a 600 foot hole? What is she thinking? Well, if she wants to make it easy on you, you’re certainly not going to stop her, right?
You watch as she throws a shot up the right hand side of the fairway. It settles down about 300 feet out and fades gently to the middle of the fairway. Ha! You’ve got her by at least 100 feet!
Now for the interesting part. As you walk up the fairway, your confidence starts to fade. As the disc gets closer, you start to see what kind of second shot you’ve left yourself. The nearer you get, the uglier things look.
When you get up to your disc, you see that you’ve landed in some tall grass that will make a run up impossible on your second shot. The basket is guarded on both sides. With the angle you’ve left yourself there is nothing but trees and bushes blocking any workable line in.
All the good angles are gone from this spot. The harder you look, the worse it gets. It’s going to take a miracle shot to get anywhere near the basket. Looking around, you see that the only spot that has a decent line to the basket is the one your opponent is standing on. She smiles at you and waves.
She is in a perfect position to get up and down. She marks her disc, takes the same Buzzz she threw off the tee, and throws a beautiful straight shot right up to the basket. At most she has a 15 foot putt for a 3.
With your terrible footing, shaken confidence, and lack of a good options for your second shot, you end up in the bushes to the right of the basket. By the time you get out of the bushes and into the chains, you take a 4.
A lot of good that video on disc golf driving tips did you now, right?
Distance shouldn’t be your first concern.
Your first concern, every single time you play, should be getting the disc into the basket in the fewest amount of throws possible. It’s not how far you are going to throw.
That means that when you step up on the tee, there are a lot more things to think about than how far you are going to throw the disc.
In two previous posts, we talked about managing your upshots to leave yourself a putt you had a good chance to make. We talked about reading the green and also reading the wind. The idea was to leave yourself the easiest possible putt.
When thinking about disc golf course management, there is a natural progression of those concepts. Place your drives so that your approach shot is the easiest possible too. At the very least, don’t leave yourself a difficult shot.
If your upshot is limited, you take away your ability to think about what kind of putt to leave yourself. Instead you can only worry about getting near the basket in the first place.
What does the 4x World Champion think?
Paul McBeth recently wrote a Facebook post about people who ask him to play casual rounds to better learn the game. I loved his response. He said instead of playing a casual round with him, they should watch him play a practice round. What do they watch for? Among other things, where he chooses to land his disc and where he throws his approaches from.
The distance your disc travels is only one minor part of where you choose to land your disc. That’s why this week I want to share a quick list of 9 things you should consider when standing on the tee pad. These are the things to think about when picking a landing spot for your drives.
***As an aside… To do this, your field work needs to start focusing as much or more on accuracy and disc control as it does on the actual distance you are throwing.
9 uncommon disc golf driving tips.
- Accuracy. Ask yourself how far you can throw accurately. Sure, you might be able to hit the local football field and bomb discs out past 400 feet. The real question is how far can you throw them and have them land where you intend them to?
- Placement. Where do you have the best approach shot from? Does throwing a shorter drive leave you in a better position? Where are the good lines to the basket? You will need to have checked the hole before playing it to know.
- Footing. Where is the best footing to be had? Can you see a wide area that would leave a good approach shot? Where in that area would put you on flat ground with the opportunity for a clean run up?
- Disc Angle. What angle will the disc need to land at for it to get to the spot you pick? Will it need to skip to this spot? Do you need the disc to settle down flat on your chosen location? This will help you pick both the disc as well as the line you want to throw off the tee.
- Ground condition. Will your drive skip when landing? Will it stick? Can it roll away? Is the ground hard or soft? You can do the best job in the world of picking the right spot to throw your second shot from but if you can’t get your drive to stay there, it doesn’t matter.
- Obstructions. What obstructions will be in your way on your approach? If you choose to throw a straight second shot but then realize there isn’t a high enough ceiling to do that, you will be in a tough spot. Ask yourself if you will have a clear and unobstructed second shot.
- Your preference. Many holes will present you with a multitude of possible second shots. Which type of shot do you prefer to throw? If you can leave yourself both a hyzer and an anhyzer approach, which are you better at? Look for the shot that leaves you the best chance for success.
- Distance. Not of your drive, but of your second shot. What distance are you most comfortable throwing? A good example is leaving yourself a longer second shot so that you can throw that shot at full power. Full power shots are more accurate than ones you try to take something off of.
- Ego? Are you making your decision on the tee pad with your ego or your head? It takes a big person to throw a mid off the tee on a 600 foot hole. Make sure you are playing smart and making good decisions. Letting your ego play for you rarely works out well in the long run. Check out this post for more on this topic.
Do your homework.
To do any of this, you have to be familiar with the course. I’m not just talking about having played it before. I mean really knowing the course. Without this type of intimate knowledge, you’ll never be making the best possible decision.
A great way to do this is to walk or play the course backward. Look at each hole starting at the basket. Take a hard look at the lines in to the basket. Then walk out to those spots and look to the tee. You’ll be surprised at how much more clearly you see the hole when doing this. This drill also gets you out of “play mode” and into “observation mode”.
If you can, take notes. Jot them down. Even if you never look at them, the simple act of writing them down or recording them in your phone will help them stick in your memory. You won’t have long during a round to make these decisions. They need to be made before you even start playing.
Think before you throw. Instead of getting up to your second shot and then dealing with an unknown, try to make your second shot one you wanted and planned on. If you have your plan of attack down before you start, all you have to worry about at that point is execution.
Most people, when they search the web or YouTube for disc golf driving tips, they are looking for more distance. I totally get that. Who doesn’t want more distance? But what good does that distance do if it doesn’t help you score lower?
Anyone can try and throw far. There’s a million tips out there on how to do that. Not everyone can score well. For that it requires a different set of tips. I really believe that if you go out and execute the 9 points above, you will get lower scores.
Often the most important shot on harder and longer courses is your second shot. Make it work for you, not against you! Don’t believe this works? Take a minute and watch Paul McBeth or any other top pro play. There isn’t a drive they are throwing where they aren’t thinking about what their second shot is going to look like.
Do you like these tips? Do they help your game? If so, make sure and subscribe to the blog. We’ll make sure you never miss a post. You never know when one tip ends up changing your game for the better forever!