As I approach two years of playing this lovely sport we call disc golf, I have come to a harsh conclusion — I am just not that good.
I miss easy putts. My drives are still all over the place. I have more plastic sitting in a crate in my garage than I do in my actual bag, and instead of my discs bearing the names of their manufacturers, they might as well be covered with expletives, because that’s how I refer to them.
In short, I’m kind of a hot mess.
But, the promise of a new year at least gives me a little hope that 2013 may be the time for improvement. I have to hold myself to some kind of standard if I actually want to get better, though, so I am setting some goals for myself for the coming year.
Why goals, and not resolutions? Well, according to my friend dictionary.com, resolutions have more to do with determination and will than actual results. Goals, on the other hand, have a defined aim, and that is where I am going with these. Concrete improvement that I can (kind of) measure.
Plus, everyone makes resolutions. See all those people at your local gym? They won’t be there in a couple weeks. Sign up for a marathon and set a goal of finishing it, though, and you’re doing it. It’s about commitment.
Goal 1: Drive less, putt more — As the famed author of this site’s Noodle-Armed Reviews, readers know I’m not long off the tee. But that doesn’t stop me from heading out to the field all the time to try some new form tweak that I think will be my magic elixir, so to speak.
And while I traipse around in the grass to collect my scattered drives in the 250-300 foot range, I still miss gimme putts on the course, I’ve got a stack of six MVP Anode putters in the garage. In my backyard? A DGA M-14 portable basket.
It’s high time those products threw some Marvin Gaye on the turntable and got it on.
With that in mind, my first goal for this year is to take at least 150 practice putts per week. For some people, that may not be that many. But, when you have a toddler running around the house and all of the included responsibilities, taking time on the basket can be difficult.
However, I’m already about two-thirds of the way toward my goal for the week — it’s just about finding a couple free minutes. Nap time is key, and I’ve set the basket up outside and on the opposite side of the house from my daughter’s room.
I’ve also been able to steal a few putts while making dinner. Living in the San Diego affords me the luxury of January BBQing (weep, east coasters and northerners), and I don’t need to stare at my turkey burgers for them to cook, so I sneak off to the basket.
I’ve also taken one extra step to help my putting accuracy. Drawing inspiration from Gateway’s Bullseye basket, I took the outer chains of the M-14 and zip-tied them up so that my target is more narrow. My hope is, if I throw a ton of putts on a smaller area at home, the baskets at the course will look cavernous by comparison, thus boosting my confidence.
And I figure, if I take 150 putts per week for the whole year, that comes out to 7,800 practice putts on the year — or roughly 7,000 more practice putts than in 2012.
If I don’t improve after that, I might as well hang ’em up.
Goal 2: Stick with what I’ve got — In addition to my terrible habit of trying to get longer drives while neglecting my putting, I also have fallen victim to my penchant of constant shuffling around the contents of my bag.
In fact, if I had kept a roster of discs in my bag at the start and tracked all the moves up until now, I probably could qualify for one of the open general manager positions in the NFL — that’s how many changes I have made. (Since I am not that good, though, I’d probably end up with the San Diego Chargers or Kansas City Chiefs. But I digress.)
As a result, I know I haven’t learned my discs as well. Sure, my mid-ranges are pretty well set — finally — but I have gone through drivers like Charlie Sheen goes through … No, that’s just too easy.
Regardless, I need to settle on a lineup and stick with it, which is what I plan to do for this year, and I am trying to keep it pretty simple with the following set-up:
- Drivers: Discmania C-FD, Discmania S-FD
- Mid-ranges: MVP Axis, Latitude 64 Fuse, Latitude 64 Pain
- Putters: MVP Anode, Vibram Summit
The driver set-up is one that I am really excited about. The FD is a versatile mold, and the two plastics it comes in almost act like different discs, but with the same grip. It will give me the chance to really learn what one mold can do, and I think this will lead to more success on the course.
Goal 3: Track my scores — Most of the time when I play, I keep score. However, I hardly apply any scientific analysis to my results, and instead keep the number above par in my head as I go along.
It’s time for that to change.
While it may look like things are serious if I am writing down my score, I am actually hoping that it will make me take my rounds less seriously. Hear me out on this one — with my current system, I am constantly going back through the round in my head, trying to remember if I parred or bogeyed a hole. This means that I am rehashing the bad shots in my round numerous times.
If I just write the score for each hole, then move on and tabulate the totals at the end, I can focus more on a one-shot, one-hole-at-a-time approach, which I hope will keep my brain more fresh throughout the round.
Plus, if I keep track of my scores and look back at them for patterns — something Rattling Chains instructional writer Jack Trageser mentioned in an article some time back — I can learn more about the highs and lows of my rounds and try to even them out.
Goal 4: Have more fun — While playing a round the other day, my friend was having some of the worst luck I have seen him encounter. Putts that looked gorgeous would clang off the Innova basket chastity belt, then roll 40 feet away. Drives that had great lines would find the skinniest, most insignificant branch and be routed way off course.
Suffice to say, it was one of those maddening rounds that we’ve all had.
The whole time, though, he kept his head up and was smiling. At the same time, I was practically yelling curse words for him! This juxtaposition made me realize that I take the game too seriously sometimes and really need to lighten up.
How, exactly, am I supposed to do that, when my last goal talks about tracking scores and another one is basically a putting drill? Honestly, I don’t know yet. But my hope is I will figure it out. Maybe it will entail playing more glow rounds, which are just casual and fun. Or perhaps I can challenge my friends to some goofy shots — off-hand, through-the-legs, etc. — to keep things light.
Whatever form it comes in, this is my most important goal. After all, I started playing this game because it was fun, but it can also be extremely frustrating. If I can shift the balance back to how I felt when I first started — having a nice time, being outside and throwing some plastic — everything else will fall into place.
Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @onemilemore.