disc golf tournament

What the heck is the difference between all these disc golf tours?

Today we will talk about the direction of disc golf tournaments and the different tours we saw arise this year.

There are three new tours that have emerged in 2016 and we will spend a little time with each of them.

American Disc Golf Tour

The American Disc Golf Tour was the baby of Salient Discs, and was making bold strides by pushing to be on ESPN3 for their initial outing. My goal is not to be negative towards any individual effort to try something new, however, I believe this tour had very little positive impact on the sport.

Besides the lack of depth in the pro field, the high entry fees, the tacky score-keeping girls in Hooters outfits, and the very amateur feel of the production, the event simply didn’t deliver many positive results.

The adage of “any press is good press” may be true, however, to what degree is up for certain speculation and criticism in regards to the American Disc Golf Tour. The last portion of this idea is that the “tour” consisted of a single event. This was blamed on the community not rallying behind the initial event effort, but given that there was a poor product, very little real competition, and a lack of appreciation for the people that may be the audience, I am wholly unsurprised at the outcome.

Grade: D+

 

Disc Golf World Tour

The next main tour arriving on the scene this year is the Disc Golf World Tour (DGWT). This tour consists of five events throughout the US and Europe. Starting in California, to the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, and ending in South Carolina with the United States Disc Golf Championship (USDGC).

This tour is the creation of Jussi Meresmaa, who is widely recognized for the explosive growth and success of disc golf in Europe. The tour is also responsible for bringing some new statistics to light. I have always liked statistics and am a believer that anything you measure can bring greater understanding and interest to the topic.

The statistics measured are: Green Hits (from the tee), ICP (putting percentage inside 10 meters), and OCP (number of putts made outside the 10 meter circle). This is a great start to the idea that we can break down and analyze what statistics and metrics make a winning disc golfer. The only metric shared by the top finishing golfers so far is over 90% ICP, and being top rated in green hits. This means that they routinely give themselves a reasonable chance at taking birdies, and are able to capitalize on it.

This is surprising given that both Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki are known for their amazing putting accuracy at quite a distance, however in the four events of the Disc Golf World Tour thus far, that has not been the reason for their success. I would never have guessed that was the case. Most people would likely have thought that making the 40-50 foot putts on a routine basis would be the reason for the top ranked players in the world to be ahead of everyone else. Though this may be a contributing factor in this small sample size of four events, this has not proven to be true.

There is one more thing to consider in this tour. Given the amount of travel, the sponsor (Innova Champion Discs via Discmania), and the coverage there is an overwhelming amount of Innova/Discmania sponsored play coverage and related commentary. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. They are footing the bill to make sure all of their top pros make the events, and the coverage and commentary is outstanding after each round. Just remember when you’re watching the coverage who is putting it together. All in all, this tour has been good for the sport, especially abroad and I applaud Jussi and his team for a great start to what I hope becomes an even stronger tour for years to come.    

Grade: B+

 

Disc Golf Pro Tour

The thrid tour that started this year is the Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT). This tour consists of five events and an additional tour championship you must qualify to play in. The tour was designed so that pros following the NTs and majors for the PDGA could do so easily and in conjunction. With this ease of attendance, they have done a great job attracting the best in the sport to the majority of their events.

Steve Dodge of Vibram Disc Golf is spearheading this tour and as with most things he’s done for the sport, he has shown thoughtfulness, great follow through, player first mentality, and long-term growth strategies can be at the heart of every event.

The DGPT has brought carnival games, "beat the pro" challenges in the games, a revolutionary partnership in live scoring with the astounding uDisc app, in depth statistics and a relationship for new power rankings with DGstats, fantasy disc golf with prizes, live video coverage of every event, and wonderful round recaps and relationships with the disc golf media community.

This weekend I attended the Minnesota Majestic. I had the wonderful opportunity to watch the rounds in person and see the whole event unfold. The environment felt fan-friendly, professional, and accessible to players and fans alike. Of course the tournament directors, and course proprietors, were a large part of the enormous success of the event. It was certainly the best run, most interesting, and highest level of play in any tournament I have had the pleasure of being a part of.

One of my favorite things about the uDisc involvement are the statistics they track. They have fairway hits, circle 1 (10 meters), circle 2 (20 meters), and scramble. The scramble rate occurs when you save par, after missing the fairway off the tee. The addition of the extra statistics allows for greater analysis long-term. I also did the live scoring portion for a card on the first round and was astounded at the ease and accuracy of the app. Everything from the interface to the refresh time was amazing. If you haven’t checked out the DGPT yet, you should. You will not be disappointed.

Grade: A-

 

Both the DGWT and DGPT have done wonderful things for the sport and are driving the bus in the right direction.

Ultimately, the future of the sport for professionals and fans alike will be more successful and enjoyable for all with great minds and tours propelling the sport forward.

Please take some time to tune in to a live broadcast or watch some round recaps to show your support for the initiative taken by these tours this year.

Thanks for reading and until next time, enjoy the wealth of disc golf statistics and videos to look over on these great websites and additions to the professional circuits of our sport!

See you on the course, 

Aaron

Two Things to Avoid When Preparing to Play in a Disc Golf Tournament

Preparing for a Disc Golf Tournament

Today, I would like to talk about how my recent experiences in preparing and playing have gone for tournaments. The last two tournaments I have played in have been some of the worst disc golf I’ve played in years.

After having some time to reflect on this, I believe it is a combination of a few things, so let me speculate why this is and how I plan to prepare differently to receive a different result in the future.

As we all know, actually following advice, especially regarding the mental game, is tremendously difficult when you feel the pressure to perform. I believe that there are 2 main components to this and we will discuss them separately.   

1. Not sticking to a single type of practice.

The first issue is how I tried to prepare for the tournament. I put in more rounds of practice than I had ever before any tournament at the courses.

Usually this would be a good thing, however I played 4 of the leagues at one of the courses and won 2 of the 4 weeks! How could this be bad?

Well, as I suspect many of us (especially amateurs) do, we start to compare all future rounds to our better, or best rounds at a course in the past.

Though I have traditionally played very well competitively at both courses in leagues and single round tournaments, I managed to shoot the worst rounds imaginable in the one tournament this year I have played and wanted really badly to do well.

In preparing for the tournament, I didn’t stick to a single type of practice.

I practiced inconsistent methods, and I created a lack of confidence in a single method.

What I mean by this is, every round I tried to play slightly more aggressive than the last and both physically and psychologically it had a negative impact on my performance when it really mattered.

Instead of playing my game (which is semi reminiscent of “old man disc golf”) and staying in the fairway and trusting my putting, I wanted to be a hero off the tee on every hole.

This is a tough spiral once you start making bad shots. For one, if you try to throw harder than you really can or should, you tend to miss release points, landing zones, and angle of release.

Beyond that the confidence to throw the more technical holes is greatly diminished and the ability to comfortably throw tighter lanes seems harder than it should. After this cycle starts, you end up having to make longer putts than you’re used to and once you miss those putts, the confidence in that part of the game starts to diminish as well.

With that being said, I put myself in a position to fail. I bring this all back to trying to play a game that really wasn’t mine. I truly believe that if I had just played a comfortable game hitting fairways and giving myself a chance to putt in all of my practice rounds, I would’ve been just fine.

Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, so for next time, I will practice playing my game and leave myself a chance to stay in contention and make a push in the final round. Also, don’t practice a course you know super well, to the point where you start to make up new throws, lines, and get creative for shots that are neither needed, nor advisable.

2. Not playing your OWN game.

The second issue is playing the tournament itself. I went in with the mindset that I would play safe.

This generally good advice, except when you’ve been practicing playing aggressive. I found that the far throws were executed poorly and the short throws were either too short or too long. I had lost my comfortable throws in simply trusting my muscle memory to do the work for me. Instead of doing what I do best, I tried to “throw through the slump”.

Boy oh boy, is that a poor choice.

Generally if I’m having trouble finding a rhythm, I disc down to less stable discs and find a way to hyzer flip to flat.

However, instead of doing the smart thing, I started throwing more stable discs harder. As I’m sure everyone knows, throwing harder is the solution to nothing when you’re having a bad day hitting your lines. In putting, I decided I would putt more aggressively to make up for my lack of accuracy on the tee pads and approaches, but as you would guess the numbers long-term don’t end up favoring that decision making.

The discs didn’t fail me, I failed me.

The real villain here was expectations.

I expected myself to be competing for first or second place and was almost embarrassed to think I would finish any lower.

The truth is: in any field you’re really playing against yourself.

Of course, in the last round if you’re chasing for the win you have to play according to your ability to gain strokes on a player, but many times in my experience unless you’re down to just a few holes, it's best to play your game.

Most of the time especially at the amateur level, mistakes will be made. This is mostly true in tournaments that are multi-day and at least 3 rounds, but I think playing your own game at the amateur level will generally yield the best results. This last tournament, I ignored all of the advice I give others and try to heed myself.

So after taking a few days off from throwing, I decided to go into the next league round and play my game. Low and behold: I threw great!

Such a mixed blessing. It is always frustrating to not throw to your potential in big situations, but part of nerves is good decision making.

The best practice to get better under pressure, is to play in situations where you tend to perform poorly.

I have made it a priority that when I play rounds I want to do especially well in that I will keep an extra scorecard and record every poor decision I make. In many situations, awareness at the time is most of the battle.    

If there is another takeaway to have in competition I believe it is that you need to play in a bit of a bubble. Watching both Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki play live, especially this year, they will be socially polite during a round, however they tend to play as if they are the only one on the course.

They seem quiet, focused, and uninterested in anything but their next throw.

Striving to make that a part of at least one round with friends may be a fun challenge. I’m going to try to see if I can still be fun to play with and polite, but focused in my casual rounds. The good news is that my friends will let me know if I’m being too distant. It will be a good test.

Hopefully some of you out there can relate, learn from my mistakes, and have found some takeaways for your own game here today.

Thank you for taking the time to join me in the reflection of my awful tournament play, and please share your experiences and thoughts!

See you on the course,

Aaron