Walking up to a tee pad, eyeing the basket 500+ feet away, and dropping a flex-hyzer inside the circle on a single toss tantalizes each player during every round. Having a big arm, more accurately a big drive, is what every disc golf player wants. It can be the single most asked question in regards to lowering round scores. If the first enemy was the distance, the next will likely be climate. Having perfect, ideal weather for a round is like waking up with $20 in a pocket you had forgotten about……it’s not likely to happen. That monster throw you so desperately seek might make little difference when a 20 mph wind is in your face. The current world record distance drive, at over 1,000 feet, is well over the average drive of the best in the game. This was accomplished in a desert with the tailwind gusting at over 40 mph. None of these conditions would have been found at a course. Disc golf courses around the world have countless obstacles to avoid when playing, and even IF a wide open drive is found the player must land with precision. So the real question is not how far can you throw, but how far can you accurately throw a disc with consistency? Obviously there are more pieces to a successful disc golf game than just being able to throw a bomb off the pad, and practicing to lower your round scores when you do not have open field access.
Keep in mind there is more than one way to skin a cat (or drive off a tee-pad):
Driving a consistent 250-300 feet with a backhand drive may be disheartening to the avid disc golfer, but try not to go home and watch hundreds of technique videos just yet. Instead, why not try another popular driving style, the forehand? Focusing on a singular goal in a sport that has so many options for success can potentially hurt your game in the long run. This idea is something that all southpaw disc golfers more than likely already know. Like nearly every other aspect of a lefty’s life, they have had to acclimate themselves to living in a world full of right handed people. Whether it is scissors, ball gloves, clubs, driving a manual vehicle in the United States, etc; lefties are subject to the lifelong ability to change. Take a page out of that book, and try your skill at some forehanded drives. Adding this kind of versatility off the tee can help take your mind away from that daunting hole that only has one route for a the player who exclusively backhands. At least, with this approach, you will spend less time cursing a grip-locked anhyzer shot attempting to hit a mandatory line.
Not every hole is a par 3:
Lay up that drive in favor of a solid birdie set-up. Let’s say that during any given round you find a tree on your drive. Don’t be upset because it happens to even the best in the game. Depending on the tree your next shot is either another, albeit short, drive; or to pull out your most trustworthy midrange/approach disc and try a damage controlling upshot. This may be the more important shot of the hole as it can decide whether or not your following putt is a tap in or something more difficult to hit with a high percentage. All in all this shot could be the difference between a birdie, a par, or a bogey at any particular hole. The point to take from this is that just because you grip-locked a drive, or released a stable driver too early, it does not mean all is lost for the completion of the hole.
Lengthening a comfortable putting range saves strokes, period:
Not every drive is going to find a tree, bush, phone line pole, OB, etc. Very often your drive will fly uninterrupted, and land safely on the ground with no problems. What happens next? Well you putt of course. This is arguably THE most important part of your disc golf game. What good is that 400+ foot drive your buddy just blasted before you if he can’t hit that 40 foot putt to seal the bird? Your instincts were correct, and it does no good when you can save par at nearly every hole with a solid upshot and a good putt no matter what happens off the pad. That route may a bit unclean, but the resulting score isn’t any different on the scorecard. I’ve gotten to play several rounds with Dynamic Discs‘ Paige Bjerkaas, and she cannot stress to me enough how important her putting is to her overall disc golf game: “A few years ago I was playing in the Snow Mountain Challenge at Winter Park, CO. There was a player on my card who was out driving me at every hole, but she missed easy putts. When I say easy I mean well inside the circle, like 10 feet or so, but not longer than 15-20. She hit some great lines off the pad, and from the drive, looked like she was parking quite a few shots. I ended up beating her by a lot of strokes”. No further evidence is needed for a story like this from Paige when you take a look at the 2016 Pro Worlds champion, and now 4-time champion, Valarie Jenkins. Both Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen are well known for their ability to seriously chuck plastic down range, but both came up short to Valarie just over a month ago.