Are You Smarter Than Your Ego?

It’s fun to throw the disc into the next time zone. There’s nothing like when everything goes right and the disc rips out of our hand at warp speed. It’s one of the things that keeps us coming back for more. It feeds our ego and makes us smile. There’s one small problem… Good disc golf course management has little room for ego.

disc golf course management on Squaw Creek disc golf course

Your not getting to the basket in one on this hole.

The missing element in disc golf course management.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve posted several articles on course management. We’ve covered leaving yourself a quality putt after your upshot. We’ve covered putting yourself in position to make a quality upshot in the first place. We’ve even covered how the wind effects some of those decisions.

While that’s a good start, there is an important dimension of this course management equation that we haven’t covered yet. It’s quite possibly the most important part too. It’s what allows you to do those things in the first place. It’s playing with your head and not your ego.

[tweetthis]You can’t let your ego make decisions for you on the #discgolf course.[/tweetthis]

You see, your ego is the one that wants to throw your approach shots at the chains instead of nestling the disc under the basket. Your ego is the one that wants to run that long putt even though there’s water 10 feet past the bucket. Your ego is the one that says all 600 foot holes need a driver off the tee.

Guess what?

Your ego sucks at course management.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place to take chances. There’s a time to be aggressive. It’s just not every time you have a disc in your hand.

Are you trying to win?

Is your goal as a disc golfer to be the one who threw the most memorable shot of the tournament? Leave your brain in the car and let your ego play the whole round.

If your goal is to win (or at least post the lowest possible score you can), then your brain has to come along. It also has to be in charge. At best, your ego gets to ride shotgun.

Let’s look at that 600 foot hole as an example of what I’m talking about. Most people, regardless of how the hole lays out, will step up to the tee with a driver. This might even be the right approach if you are playing a park style course with zero chance of punishment for a bad shot.

What is probably the better choice, though, is to head to the tee with a mid. 2 controlled 300 foot shots that land within feet of where you aimed put you right under the basket for a drop in 3. There is a saying that I repeat to myself many times over the course of a round…

“There in two is there in two.”

one plus one = two

1 shot plus 1 shot = 2 shots

Nowhere on the score card does it say how you got your score. No one hands out trophies at the end of a tournament based on the longest average throw of the event. Lowest score wins. Period.

A great example…

If you play on wooded or technical courses this is especially true. Michael Johansen just won the 2015 Hall of Fame Classic. MJ is one of my favorite players to watch. Especially on wooded courses. He absolutely destroys his competition…. With a Comet.

When he’s in the woods, he’s not trying to eek out a few extra feet off the tee. He’s trying to thread gaps, not hit trees, and land in the spot that gives him the best possible approach shot to the basket.

Meanwhile, his opponents are throwing drivers. They find themselves deep in the woods, scrambling with trick shots and utility discs. There they are, far off the fairway, hoping to give themselves even the smallest look at a par putt.

MJ is the man. If you haven’t watched him play a wooded course, take the time right now to watch this video. Pay attention not only to MJ, but to just how many 500+ foot holes are started with mids and putters.

Most of the holes we face in disc golf are pretty straight forward. Often, we are trying to get under the basket in one shot from the tee. As our sport matures, we will face more and more holes where it’s our second shot that is king. Unless you are Johnny Mutant Arm, you aren’t parking a 600 foot hole.

Why a driver?

That begs the question of what do you gain by throwing driver off the tee? Why not two midrange shots? Most of today’s mids can be pushed out reliably and accurately past 300 feet. I know I can throw the Truth and the Claymore on most shots 325 feet and in and be very happy with the result. I learned to play disc golf watching Barry Schultz throw Rocs on shots up to 400 feet.

We got a lot of good feedback on our recent posts about disc golf course management. Lots of people chimed in with comments, emails, and other feedback. They talked about learning to throw placement shots. They described setting themselves up for their next shots successfully by thinking before throwing.

Who will win, your ego or your brain?

All those people have at least one thing in common. They have started to think their way around the disc golf course. They understand that the flashiest shot is often not the best choice. They get the fact that ego needs to be kept in check during a round.

In the end, what your ego doesn’t understand is that accuracy trumps distance in most cases. Your brain gets this point. Your ego fights it. The key is not letting the ego win.

We’d love to hear how you keep your ego in check. When do you decide to let one rip and when do you decide to play placement shots? Let us know in the comments below.


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