Disc Golf Approaches

January 25, 2016

Disc Golf Advice from Ron

As an older player I’m seeing the importance of a solid approach more and more as the years go by. Why? Because I don’t park everything anymore? Nope, that’s not it… Even with the improvements in disc technology, course design has thankfully gotten us away from the Duece or die courses. Some of that duece or die was caused by disc technology improving faster than designers of courses realized. This caused many of the early courses which were very difficult with the early discs, to basically become pitch putt courses. Now, courses are stretching out and Par 4’s and 5’s are much more common. This means that even if you throw further than most people, you are still going to need a good approach.

​Accuracy in your approach will determine how skilled you need to be as a putter. The goal of a pro is not to make the 100ft putt. Nope. The goal is to not need to putt. Think about how far out your comfort zone is. I feel pretty confident about 20 and in…This gives me a 40 ft circle to stop the disc in. If I’m close enough that I can run at the basket and still stay within good scoring range I will run. If I’m a little further out and feel lucky, I can raise the arc and make the disc finish more up and down and less forward. But if I’m not confident, I want the disc to hit early and skip towards the basket.

Wind, elevation and hazards like ponds or trees will determine how I throw at the basket. I recently saw a video teaching a stall shot and given the opportunity and perfect conditions I might try it. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to play very much where that shot applies. Typically I’m working around obstacles and trying to keep the wind or OB out of play.

I can’t stress enough how useful it is to be able to work approaches with both spin directions. What I mean is the ability to throw with your off hand, or to throw with a forehand. I’m not talking about drives, just short approaches using overstable mids or putters. This shot allows you to get around obstacles easily, keep the top to the wind, and to work away from hazards rather than toward them. This is in essence, a chip shot. With a little practice you can get good enough at the chip shot to put the disc in your comfort zone. One of the important things to remember is that you are NOT trying to make this shot, you simply want to get up and down, and leave yourself with a shot. And yes, the easier the better.

If you don’t have the fore hand or off hand shot in your arsenal yet, you’re going to need to work more creatively on hazardous approaches. A few quick tips to keep in mind.

First, you don’t need to be under the basket, just close enough to make the putt. Low ceilings often stop the shot which is “running “at the basket at a distance, while allowing low approaches to scoot up for the easy putt.

Second, stay in control as much as possible. If the wind is blowing try and keep the top to the wind, or play it wide enough that the extra push doesn’t mess up your next shot. Working anhyzer towards the wind to get around a corner often results in the edge grabbing and a kick anti spinward. Consider an intentional roller instead, or remember the shot for those shots that need a “kick back”to make a sharp corner.

“Keep in mind what the hazards are on each shot and try to play wide of them when possible.
Trimming the edges to get all of a shot is one of my failings. Play it down the middle and give yourself a good next shot.”

​​If the wind isn’t blowing and you have the hyzer, take it, over a flex shot. A man I really respect would always take a spike hyzer over the obstacles if it was available. He would always say that there weren’t any obstacles up there to get in the way! Another effect of the up and down trajectory is that the disc hits with most of the force aimed down rather than forward. Lower shots need to worry about skips, with the spike, it’s more the roll if on an elevated or reverse slanted landing. A spike shot has only one dimension, where a flex will work thru having two different edges up. A spike takes more raw power, but is easier to control. A flex shot will give you an “S” shaped flight, with glide in the middle which means it requires more touch, but will allow a longer or lower flight.

As usual, the best advice is to practice until you are familiar with what your discs will do. Learn the different shots as you can by using different angles on release and seeing how they behave. Experiment. Play and have fun. Hopefully a few of these tips will find a use and make your scoring just a little better.

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One comment on “Disc Golf Approaches

  1. Donny Walter Feb 1, 2016

    Great article! Thanks!