Mental Game

How to Play Disc Golf in the Wind

How to Play Disc Golf in the Wind

Ok, I certainly do not prefer throwing in the wind. There are certain times when a favorable wind is welcome of course, but I have rarely, nay probably never, said I like putting into a headwind with a water hazard 10 feet behind the pin.

Depending on where you are from, will depend on what “really windy” means to you. Having played a number of times in Oklahoma in the Spring, I can say that the nearly constant erratic, and strong winds of March are the real deal there. Here, in Minnesota, we have some pretty blustery days, and to be fair, some very windy days. But thankfully, the degree and frequency is less than our friends in the southern part of the Midwest. To my knowledge, there isn’t a single type of best way to throw in the wind, but there are definitely a few things that help.  

Disc Golf Tee Shots in the Wind

Keep the Disc Flat

The first thing is that I’ve found is to keep the disc flat. I realize that isn’t a revolutionary statement, but making sure that the disc has the smallest surface area to catch the wind is the best way to keep it straight. Of course, depending on the shape needed for any particular hole this may change your needs, but throwing straight is the best thing to be able to execute in any condition. I find it is easiest to play with a slightly more stable disc than I’m used to, and throw it flat, hard, and low. Again, the main goal is to keep the shape of the shot straight - that is more important than distance. And making sure you don’t have to throw a fancy recovery shot out of the woods is the real goal above all else.

Take Advantage of the Wind

There are times you can take advantage of the direction of the wind. This is primarily useful on a hyzer release, and unless the options are limited, I think subtlety is the key for “utilizing” the wind assist. There are times where it is fun to try and make a heroic play that would not be possible without the elements, but my guess is that wouldn’t be more than 1-2 holes per 18. Giving yourself a 10 foot putt is more valuable than a risky drive to get within 30.

I firmly believe that reducing “testers” primarily in putting, but also in approaches will give great peace of mind, and help to keep your score in a range you can accept. Since a great majority of the sport is played “between the ears,” it is important when you have unpredictable elements to mitigate the risk. Basically, if the shot you are choosing to make gives you any pause, it is likely not a good decision to throw it. Throwing and acting with confidence is essential, however understanding that you are still subject to outside elements is just smart golf. If you want to use the wind to your advantage, don’t get greedy and keep your disc in the fairway.

Throwing a Disc Golf Approach Shot in the Wind

Throwing the approach shot is the same principle as throwing the tee shot. The only thing to bear in mind is that certain techniques for throwing approach shots have to be modified. For instance, some like to throw the same type of rhythm, release, and velocity of a tee shot on longer approach shots and simply keep the nose up. It likely goes without saying that this is not a great strategy for almost any type of wind. Generally, I like to keep the approach shot low with a small amount of hyzer, and try to avoid any big skips.

Disc Golf Putting into the Wind

The other primary consideration is what type of wind you want make your putt in. As a rule, I prefer a tailwind putt if I can get it - those putts allow you to putt with the most authority. Headwind and crosswind putts are a little less predictable in their effect on the disc at putting speeds, and as such I think the tailwind putt has the most predictable flight.

Best Disc Golf Discs for the Wind

Regarding disc selection, I favor throwing discs that are slightly overstable. I know it is popular to throw grossly overstable stable discs into the wind, but of course every scenario requires some adjustment. Remember I am not officially affiliated with any disc manufacturer, but I am using Innova examples as they have the molds that people are most familiar with, for reference. Any disc you are comfortable throwing that fits the type of flight these discs offer is a great choice. It all comes down to personal preference!

Disc Golf Discs for Tailwind

In a tailwind, your disc will fly with more overstable characteristics, and generally will get pushed down towards the ground. Tee shots in tailwind conditions I like to throw understable discs such as a Valkyrie, or Shryke if you have the arm speed. On holes under 375’ or so I go with a Leopard or Wombat3.

Disc Golf Discs for Headwind

Into a headwind, I like to throw more overstable discs. For 375 feet and over,  I like both the Destroyer, and the Thunderbird. For shots under that distance, I like the Teebird3, or the Roc3. The headwind will tend to push your disc up, and will exaggerate both turnover shots and hyzers. I try to keep the disc low, and flat as the headwind will make it appear to fly slightly less stable.

Disc Golf Discs for Crosswind

For a crosswind either direction, I throw the same discs I would into a headwind. There is one exception: if you are on a wide open hole and have a left to right tailwind you may be in luck (as a right-handed, backhand thrower). Throwing a high anhyzer with an understable disc in these conditions can lead to tremendous distances. Controlling the left to right is difficult, but if you just want to generate raw distance, that is the most favorable condition I have thrown in.

Disc Golfing in the Wind and Your Mental Game

There is one other thing to consider about throwing into a strong wind, and it is the mental game. I have played some of my best rounds in very unfavorable wind conditions, and I liken that success to the focus and type of game I am trying to play. When I focus on throwing a conservative shot and landing it in a place I am comfortable making my next throw from, good things happen. The difficult thing about doing this all the time is that when conditions are favorable, it is difficult to resist the temptation to throw more aggressive shots and lines. In light wind, I find the same challenges, but when the wind makes executing super aggressive lines next to impossible, throwing smart golf suddenly becomes much easier.

I encourage everyone to get out there when the conditions are worst and practice executing shots they are comfortable with and seeing how their scores end up. My guess is that if your putting isn’t compromised too much by the conditions, you will be surprised by the results. Getting yourself in a position to succeed is most of the battle. 

Manage your mentality, make good disc choices, and have fun. Look at it like a fun challenge and don’t be focused on scores, and you’ll be surprised by the results.

Until next time, keep them low, and I’ll see you on the course!

How to Select Discs for your Disc Golf Bag - A Guide for Rec to Advanced Disc Golf Players

Select Discs for your Disc Golf Bag

There are a million "In The Bag" videos out there, and you can find advice from anywhere about what disc is best, but the truth is that many people have too many discs in their bags that do the same thing.

I have many friends that over the years have come to see the wisdom in my thought process for selecting discs for your bag, and I would like to share my thoughts on that with you all today.

For the sake of a baseline, I will talk in terms of Innova plastic, as they are the most broadly known for a standard comparison in the market today.

I am not affiliated with any disc manufacturer in any way. Obviously these disc choices are for a generic person and may not fit your game, but the same logic should apply to the appropriate weights and stability for your arm speed. I also assume that most people are backhand dominant for the purposes of disc selection.     

On the topic of variety, there is a real catch 22. The word variety itself is perhaps misleading as that would imply having a large variety of discs for every situation imaginable. I assure this is not advisable.

When many of the top professionals do “In The Bag” videos, you will notice a relatively common theme. They carry many of the same disc. Understanding that they often have them in different weights, plastics, and runs is a big consideration.

Midrange Discs

You may decide that for your anhyzer and hyzerflip throws, you would use a mold in DX or R-Pro plastic.

You may then decide you need something you can throw flat or on a slight hyzer that will be a straight flyer and may choose a McPro Roc3 or KC Pro Roc.

For your stable choice, the Champion Roc3 would be your best bet. Now you may have one or more of these Rocs in the process of being seasoned just right so your mid range lineup may look like this: 2 DX Rocs (one well seasoned at 180 grams, and one newish one at 176 grams), 1 KC Pro Roc (180 grams newish), 1 McPro Roc3 (max weight slightly seasoned), and 1 Champion Roc3 (max weight).

Drivers/Fairway Drivers 

You want to do a similar thing as to your midranges. I would start with 2 slowish drivers. I prefer to throw a stable disc such as a Teebird (either star or champion plastic and near max weight) and a less stable disc such as a Valkyrie (again star or champion plastic and near max weight).

That should cover most anything that your midranges can’t and you don’t need maximum distance on.

Next, I would choose a driver that is well within your arm speeds ability to throw. In my experience, most people tend to throw drivers that are well faster than their arm speed can truly handle. I would recommend 3 drivers of the same mold.

For this instance, I will pick an Innova Destroyer as they are discs that have the ability to fly with a great variance of stability. I prefer the star plastic for drivers, but that is up to you.

As discs go, Destroyers are notorious for being unpredictable in their stability off the shelf. This is not a bad thing as they are a great discs for many types of shots. I would find one in a lighter weight (such as 167 grams or so) and use that as my turnover or anhyzer disc. Then, I would find one that is stable, but not a meat hook around 172-174 grams. Next, find one that you can’t turn over on your most powerful flat throw at 174 grams and make that your overstable driver.

Putters

For putters, I prefer to putt with a stiff plastic as I feel more confident with that in my hand. No matter what you choose, I would make sure that you have 2 of the same putter, just in case something happens to one of them.

There is not a single correct type to use. I putt with Prodigy PA3 in the 350 plastic, but I also like putting with the stiff 300 plastic. I use putters off the tee for most shots 270 and under when the line permits, as I feel the most comfortable throwing them accurately.

I keep a stable throwing putter at max weight, a straight throwing putter at max weight and a very understable putter at max weight for approach shots and tee shots. I also throw a well seasoned PA1 in 300 plastic as my straight putter, and my understable throwing putter is a well seasoned PA4 in 300 plastic.

If you have all of the discs recommended above, you would be at 15 total in your bag right now. That being said there will be a need for a few utility discs that fill the gap for shots that require a more extreme line.

Utility Discs

For these, I believe you need first a very overstable putter. I believe a Discraft Zone is a perfect choice for that. Next, a very overstable midrange. There are many great options, and any will do. Just pick whatever you like best, but some great discs are, Discraft Drone, Innova Gator, Prodigy A1, Dynamic Discs Justice, are all outstanding meathooks.

After that, a very overstable fairway driver is in order. The most popular is an Innova Firebird, but a Discraft Predator, or Prodigy H1 will all be overstable enough for your needs as well. Lastly, if you still need a more overstable driver for your bag, pick something faster than your arm speed can handle or just grossly overstable. If you want something that you can’t really throw too hard I recommend a Dynamic Discs Stiletto. The very last disc to bring you up to an even 20 would be a very very understable disc for rollers or situations where you are throwing far uphill or do not have the ability to generate a run up or much power.

Thanks for reading and let me know if this helps to pair down your bag!

See you on the course,

Aaron

Improving Your Approach in Disc Golf

Improving your Approach in Disc Golf

I would like to share a few thoughts about one of the least talked about topics in disc golf. Many times this is the case because of level of courses available, the seeming impact on scores, and if there is a least flashy part of disc golf it is the

approach shot.  

As a new player I only focused on throwing drives and putts. Partly because those are the only 2 shots you are guaranteed to have to throw every hole (unless you ace everything, of course).

And while I agree they are important parts of disc golf I believe that as an amateur working on your approach game is important to every aspect of your play more than people realize.

Any drive where you can reach the basket should be treated as an approach shot where you want to leave yourself an easy putt.

Let’s look at the topic from this viewpoint.

When you throw a 250 technical shot off the tee, are you really throwing a drive?

Of course it is your first shot, so technically it’s your drive, but I would argue that any seasoned player is really trying to throw a placement shot.

An approach shot is a placement shot.

At that range many players are throwing putters, mids, or possibly forehand drivers depending on the shape of the hole, but they all have the same goal: 

Put yourself close enough to the basket to leave yourself a putt.

This concept is not new, certainly not original, and if you’ve done any reading about how to improve yourself as a disc golfer on a consistent and competitive level, you’ve heard this advice before.

The truth is that if you don’t put yourself in a position to comfortably putt, you’ve either not executed your shot, or you’re making bad decisions off the tee.  

Let us start with making bad decisions off the tee.

Most amateurs, especially at the intermediate and recreational level, are just throw something that they hope will go towards the basket.

Distance is a factor, but they really just want to “get it there." And by that I mean park it.

While it’s well and fine to have that goal in mind, it will likely not serve you well in the long run. I believe that you must try to throw that shot that will leave you with the best chance of making a putt you are comfortable making 90% of the time or better. If the hole is out of your comfort range, then at least try to leave yourself a clean jump putt.

The truth is you have to give yourself an opportunity to succeed more often than you fail.

Often times when trying to “park” a hole you throw harder than normal, or take a slightly riskier line. Then when something goes awry you are struggling to save your 3. It is chalked up to a bad day, bad disc, bad luck, whatever else you want to justify at the time.

I believe that an excellent tee shot is often time on blue level courses (90% of the courses most places are blue level or easier) is the shot that gives you a nice putt for 2 (maybe 3 if the whole length or shape is difficult enough).

When I turn in the best rounds in leagues, or even a tournament, I never feel as if I really had to work hard to do it. In fact, when I feel like I’m pushing myself past my comfort zone, every hole my score history would indicate I score significantly worse.

Executing the approach shot

When playing competitively, it’s best to come at every throw with the mentality of “how can I most easily put myself in range to make my putt comfortably.”

If the hole is challenging, change the last part to “have a putt." The difficult part of all this is actually thinking and doing it. When playing with others, it is easy to adapt your game to that of whoever is having a hot round. This “mimicking” is one of the easiest ways to get out of rhythm and have some melt down throws.

I struggle with this all the time and I imagine that is a common problem. There are great times to push yourself, but I would recommend those times to be field work or solo rec rounds.

Trying to execute a shot you managed on a perfect throw once, but have not managed to throw again the last 5 times is another example of a bad decision, not bad execution.

To execute a great shot, you simply need to throw a shot you can throw 90% of the time accurately that will put you in a position to generate the lowest reasonable score you can on the hole.

I took first at a league last week in which I had one goal off the tee every throw: Put it in the fairway and closer to the basket than you are now.

I did because there wasn’t any pressure other than hitting a line that I felt comfortable hitting, and trusting that I would make the best of putting or approaching from that lie. Guess what?

I even hit an ace trying to just “put it in the fairway comfortably!" 

The reason is simple: When you throw the right line, the disc may just do exactly what you want and even exceed your expectations!

Sure it feels great to try something challenging beyond your regular shot repertoire, but that leads to a dark path.

On a good day, you will be feeling on top of the world until something goes wrong. Then one tree kick turns into three tree kicks, and so on.

What I am recommending is that you only allow roller coaster disc golf when consequences are much lower (no money spent on beating the field).

If you need to make up a stroke or two in the last couple holes of a tournament, do what you will. Only you will know your game well enough to know if that is the right decision making process.

I will post my guide to better approaches in the next few weeks, as I have a few friends and fellow players that have been remarkably happy with the process I used to improve my short game and technical shots. Until then, happy decision making. 

Hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought, and I hope to see you on the course beating me with my own advice!

See you on the course,

Aaron