Three causes for taking extra strokes in disc golf — and how to avoid ’em

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

After playing the seventh hole at DeLaveaga the other day, it occurred to me I had already had three bogeys. To loosely paraphrase Ice Cube from back in the 1990’s, I was givin’ out strokes ‘like government cheese!’

Then, in keeping with my longstanding practice of pondering why the bogies occurred rather than simply lamenting the fact, I observed each was attributable to one of the three reasons players take extra strokes in disc golf — bad execution, mental errors, and bad luck.

school of disc golfIf you haven’t thought of your disc golf game from this perspective before, it might be worthwhile to check it out. Bad luck (and good luck!) will happen when it happens, and luck is impossible to control (although often times bad luck is set up by a bad decision). Errors are another thing entirely.

Knowing which type (execution or mental) you’re more prone to commit will help you know which area of your game requires more work in order to improve performance and consistency.

To make it clearer, here are the details of those three bogies at the start of my recent round:

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The five Ws of roller shots

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

When teaching or playing with people new to the sport and they see me execute a roller shot for a long, accurate drive, it’s only a matter of time before they ask if I can show them how to do it.

They have correctly deduced that, quite often, a disc can travel farther rolling along the ground than spinning through the air. Actually, if the terrain and conditions are suited for the purpose — and the roller is thrown by someone who knows the right way to do it — it usually is the case. It’s pretty enticing for someone who is having a hard time getting the kind of distance he or she sees everyone else is getting.

Some people avoid the roller as a violation of an important aesthetic element of disc sports. After all, it’s supposed to float through the air. To that, I say geo over it.

At one point, I was in the camp myself. Then I realized I was a person who loved the competitive golf aspect of disc golf. I was jealous that others who could execute rollers had an advantage over me. So, I began to figure out a different world of getting discs from point A to point B.

In fact, roller shots are not as inelegant as they first appear. The same science of selecting the right combination of release angle, arm speed from an air shot applies to rollers as well.

From the time I started to now, I’ve learned a lot. The following is a journalist’s tried and true who, what, when, where and why for rollers. The how will follow in part two of this series.

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To save strokes near the basket, think more like a golfer

Disc golf and ball golf can both reduce a grown man to tears, and they can both elicit language from a grown woman that would make a Marine drill sergeant blush. Is it because we, the loyal devotees of our sport, are mostly unstable people drawn to these tests of sanity like moths to a bug zapper?

BZZZT!

Well, maybe. But I have another theory.

Sure, bad breaks happen with heartbreaking and hair-pulling randomness — like my recent 40-foot putt for birdie that hit the cage 1/2 inch short of paydirt, then rolled down the sloped green and across an OB line 60 feet away (result: double bogey). Why?

No, really. WHY?!

But that kind of frustration dissipates quicker than the other kind. I’m referring to that instinctive knowledge, after a round, or a hole, or a throw, that we could have done better. Specifically, that we would have done better if not for some type of mental error. That kind can keep you tossing and turning at night.

Maybe it was a poor decision. Or the fact that it became quite obvious — a fraction of a second after the disc was released — that the wrong thought dominated the wrong lobe at the wrong time. Whatever. I’m convinced, though, that the mental side of golf is at the root of the love/hate paradox that keeps most avid players coming back again and again.

You see, even those of us with the most marginal physical skills know that if we can only squeeze all the potential out of those skills by playing smarter, our scores will improve immediately. As you read my posts here on Rattling Chains, you’ll discover this is a favorite theme of mine. We can all improve simply by playing smarter, and there are many, many, many ways to do that.

Saving strokes on the green

And what better place to start than on the green, around the basket? Mistakes related to putting are the quickest way to take needless strokes (from birdie to bogey, just like that!) so it stands to reason that plugging leaks in one’s putting game immediately translates to lower average scores.

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