5.5 different reasons to practice putting in disc golf

Conventional wisdom says putting is a crucial facet of any successful golfer’s game — and conventional wisdom is correct.

No one who has ever spent a round crushing long, accurate drives only to score poorly because he or she couldn’t hit a putt (that would be everyone) would argue. Yet few players practice putting with a purposeful, regular routine.

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If you’re reading this, you are likely someone who has at least a moderate desire to shoot lower scores on the disc golf course. Therefore, if you’re not systematically working to improve your putting skills and consistency, the question is why?

One logical answer is that you’ve never heard a specific reason or reasons that resonated strongly enough with you personally. It’s one thing to agree with the logic in a general, vague sort of way, but quite another to be able to connect the dots with a straight line that leads directly to a result you value highly.

Therefore, the below 5.5 reasons to practice putting in disc golf are presented as a means of motivating more players to create and stick to a putting practice routine.

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Disc golf course landmarks easily lend to various nicknames

By Jack Trageser – Rattling Chains staff

Players and observers have long believed that golf courses manifest unique characteristics — personalities, really — that set them apart from one another.

Unlike, say, football, basketball, or tennis, which have playing fields that adhere to strict and uniformly measured specifications, golf courses come in varying shapes, sizes, and topography. But ball golf itself has limitations (primarily, the need for a playing surface and contour that permits the ball to be struck with control and aim) which keep course design within certain constraints.

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The field of play for disc golf, on the other hand, has far fewer limitations.

Players merely need grounds that can be traversed (which is, of course, subjective based on the fitness and preference of each player) and open enough so discs can be thrown, fly free, and be located (also subjective). This high level of flexibility and adaptability has resulted in courses installed in a very wide range of locales, which, in turn, provides the opportunity for more personality associated with its playing fields than any other sport.

Still following me?

Simply put, disc golf courses have been placed in all kinds of crazy places, like thick woods, steep mountainsides, deserts — even in underground caves and on the side of a volcano, which is awesome! It’s one of the reasons most disc golfers love the sport — the essence of golf combined with all the landscapes nature has to offer.

With all that variety, and personality, it’s only natural that disc golf courses would be a breeding ground for unique nicknames and colloquialisms. Whether it be a tree, a patch of nasty rough to be avoided, or an entire hole, disc golf courses invite metaphoric description.

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Ben Franklin and disc golf — the wisdom shines through

“When in doubt, don’t.”

Golf had barely made its way to the United States during Benjamin Franklin’s lifetime, otherwise I’d be inclined to think the above quote, taken from his Poor Richard’s Almanac, came to him while playing a round.

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I also believe that Franklin, if born into a world where both ball golf and disc golf existed, would undoubtedly have chosen the latter. Add that to the long list of reasons why he is by far my favorite among the founding fathers.

I could write an entirely separate post listing and elaborating on the reasons he would favor disc golf — chief among them its accessibility to people of all classes and the endless intriguing flight path possibilities of a flying disc. But that’s for another day. Let’s focus on that quote, and how it applies to disc golf.

When in doubt, don’t.”

I like to think the best interpretation of this nugget of wisdom in the golf world is this: In order to execute any shot successfully — and especially the most difficult ones — 100 percent conviction is a must. You can’t be waffling on which way to play it and expect things to turn out well. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Example 1

You’re 30 feet away from the basket with a downhill putt, where the terrain continues to slope down behind the basket, with a lake at the bottom. You know this hole well, and as you approach your lie you think of the many times you’ve hit this putt and others like it.

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A secret ingredient of putting power

Notice that the title of this post is not “The Secret of Putting.”

There are simply too many mental and physical aspects to good and consistent putting for there to be some secret that, once discovered, instantly turns a weak putter into a good or great one.

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If anything, the best advice is the one players often like to hear the least — practice.

But we’re not talking about flour and water here. Those are major components to making bread, but the secret ingredient is yeast. Without the yeast the bread won’t rise, and if it doesn’t rise, well, it’s not really bread, is it?

Secret ingredient.

The same goes for putting in disc golf. You can propel a disc toward the basket any number of ways, and it’ll even land in the basket once in a while.

But if you want a putt that seems to zip out of your hand, go farther and hang in the air a little longer than your effort warranted, you need some nice tight spin. And believe it or not, there’s a pretty simple modification you can make that will help you get it.

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Disc golf lingo: Many groups have their own dialect

In a recent round at DeLaveaga, I paused briefly to tell my friend that his last throw had tons of “E.V.,” but I held the comment for later when we noticed a large group of marauders was quickly gaining on us. So naturally we…

What’s that? Not exactly following my meaning?

jackDon’t worry, you’re not behind on the latest disc golf lingo — at least, not yet.

Most of those reading this are well acquainted with the fact that, while disc golf borrows a great deal of terminology from its stick-and-ball ancestor (par, birdie, drive, putt, etc.), the sport has a lexicon all its own as well.

Words like hyzer, anhyzer and thumber, and terms like “chain music” and “high-tech roller” mean nothing outside of disc golf (or at least disc sports). And words like “chunder” and “schule” — while they can be found in a standard dictionary — have very different applications in the world where golf meets flying disc.

These words and phrases serve as an instant bond between people who might otherwise have zero in common. Picture, for instance, a 55-year old clean-cut professional type visiting a course he’s never played before during some free time on a business trip.

As he arrives at the teepad of a blind hole, he encounters a couple of long-haired, dreadlocked, hemp-wearing locals. The locals offer to let him play through, and the traveler asks them where the basket is located. One of them replies “If you throw a big anhyzer over those trees on the left and can get it to ‘S’ out at the end, you’ll be putting for birdie.”

Different as they might appear and even be, in respect to the other aspects of their lives, the visitor and the locals understand each other perfectly well on the disc golf course. We’re all members of a subculture that, while steadily growing, is still far from the mainstream, and our lexicon of unique terminology is one of the true identifying marks about which those not yet part of the clan remain completely ignorant.

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Part 2: Two universal truths — and 7.5 tips — to help improve your putting

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

Before you dive into this post, make sure you read the first 3.5 tips and universal truths to improve your putting from the neck up. You can see part one here.

If you’ve already seen that one, or are now done with it, read on!

4. Follow through. Really, really follow through! Think about all the pictures you’ve seen of pro players having just released a putt. I guarantee that most of them will show a player with his or her arm extended almost perfectly straight, and with all fingers — and even the thumb — rigid and reaching out toward the target.

Rattling Chains staff member Darren Dolezel shows his follow-through on a putt. Notice how his arm and fingers are pointed straight out. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Following through is an important aspect of mechanics is many different sports, especially those that include throwing a disc or ball. The benefit is two-fold as the best way to ensure consistent aim is to extend toward your target in an exaggerated fashion, and doing so will add a smoothness and extra bit of momentum that increases power and speed just enough to make a difference.

I’ve had too many putts to count barely go in where I noticed, as I brought the disc forward, that my grip was a little off or I wasn’t providing enough speed, but compensated by following through as strongly as I could.

This might be tough to do right away as it requires developing muscles in a different way. But this short video tutorial demonstrates an exercise that will help you understand the concept as well as develop the form.

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Two universal truths — and 7.5 tips — to help improve your putting

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains Staff

Anyone who plays golf of any kind understands putting is a big part of the game.

Surprisingly, though, most don’t take the time to develop the systematic approach required to produce real and lasting improvement. That’s good news for those who are willing to do so — assuming you’re interested in having an advantage that directly translates to lower scores and more fun After all, missed putts aren’t fun.

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As the title of this posts claims, we’ll examine 7.5 ways to help you in this regard. First, a good way to start is by recognizing there are two universal truths in regard to putting in disc golf (and ball golf, for that matter):

1. Consistent putting is a major component to consistently scoring well in disc golf.

2. More than any other element of the game, good putting requires a solid, well-developed mental game.

The first point is important if you play tournaments, leagues, or any other type of competition where scores are accumulated over numerous rounds. You may shoot a hot round (where you’re in the zone) every now and then, but unless you consistently make a large majority of the putts, you won’t consistently score well, regardless of how great the rest of your game is.

Everyone can relate to how frustrating it is to have the best drives all round yet end up not having the best score.

The second point is the theme that ties together the tips listed below. Players are different in terms of the physical aspects of putting technique, and what works for one player (grip, stance, form, etc.) won’t necessarily work for the next. Everyone, however, faces the same challenges and can benefit from these approaches.

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Women’s disc golf clinics attract wide range of participants, create young fans

Wearing a journalist hat makes one think differently when at an event. But at a recent disc golf clinic, I was just really excited that my wife and daughters had not only agreed to attend, but were even looking forward to it. Being in dad mode, I at least snapped a lot of photos.

The event, a women’s disc golf clinic led by Prodigy Disc team members Sarah Hokom and Paige Pierce, was held in in Santa Cruz, Calif., three days before the Masters Cup National Tour event.

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My excitement came because I had waited a long time for my wife and daugters to show interest in my favorite sport (or activity, hobby or obsession). My wife used to play many years ago, before the kids came along, but it was always more about wanting to share something I loved. The kids have played a few times, but hadn’t gotten hooked yet.

Scheduled for 5 p.m., the clinic was held on a particularly windy (and cold, for Santa Cruz) day in April. As a disc golf instructor, I assure you that these are not ideal conditions for teaching or learning the basics of flying disc sports.

We arrived a little before 5 and, aside from one lady, were the first on the scene. Slipping into journalist mode, I asked her what brought her there. She told me she was from San Francisco (a 1- or 2-hour drive, depending on traffic), and had played a week earlier in the amateur Masters Cup event. The clinic was promoted during that week and during the Daisy Chains women’s tourney, held in Santa Cruz County the week between the amateur and professional Masters Cup weekends.

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Book Excerpt 4: The environmental impact of disc golf vs. ball golf

Followers of this blog know I’ve been working on a book project where my productivity has been on-and-off, depending on the demands of my day job. I’ve posted a few excerpts here in the past, all of which were pulled from the initial chapter, which sets the theme for the entire book.

It’s my assertion that golf is a wonderful game with numerous benefits, but the traditional version with clubs and balls is fraught with significant barriers (such as the cost and time required, which have been covered here in previous excerpts).

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The goal of the book is to broadly publicize the sport of disc golf to the masses, and in such a way that its true properties rather than the tired stereotypes or over-simplifications are understood. I share the conviction with many others that once this happens, participation in disc golf as a recreational activity will explode. Interest in professional disc golf as a form of spectator entertainment may follow but, frankly, that is not where my passion lies.

This excerpt is a discussion about the contrast between what many consider to be the unacceptable environmental impact of ball golf course development and maintenance and the relatively invisible footprint of disc golf courses, which are nearly always adapted to existing natural surroundings or already developed suburban parks.

For a specific example, consider the resources consumed in placing a ball golf course (many believe the just water required to keep the grass green is an unconscionable waste) in the middle of a desert wasteland. A disc golf course on the same piece of land, on the other hand, would involve nothing except strategically placed targets and tees. Virtually no manipulation of the landscape whatsoever.

I hope you enjoy the read, follow the links and share your thoughts with us.

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Out of Production, but still producing: disc value is in the eye of the holder

If you frequent online enclaves such as the the Disc Golf Collector Exchange group on Facebook, or the similar forum pages on Disc Golf Course Review, the acronym O-O-P may be well known to you.

It stands for out-of-production, which refers to discs no longer being produced by their manufacturer.

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This, of course, is significant to collectors because it means a disc is in limited supply and, therefore, of potentially higher value.

It means something to me, too, but for a different reason. While collectors get excited about O-O- P, I get nervous.

Having played disc golf for more than 20 years, I own close to 100 discs, not including the stock I have on hand for use in my School of Disc Golf. But I would not consider myself a collector. Possibly a bit of a historian, and, more than anything else, an accumulator. But as collectors are thought of as those who like to build a collection either as a hobby or for profit, I can safely say that isn’t me.

The author collects only discs with personal significance. Among this group are his first ace, most memorable ace, a disc to commemorate the opening of the first course in S.F., a NorCal 'Hotshot' disc awarded for the low round in a tour event, and a prototype DGA Blowfly signed and given to him by Steady Ed Headrick. Blurry photo by Jack Trageser

Only discs with personal significance are in Jack Trageser’s collection. Among this group are his first ace, most memorable ace, a disc to commemorate the opening of the first course in San Francisco, a NorCal ‘Hotshot’ disc awarded for the low round in a tour event, and a prototype DGA Blowfly, signed and given to him by Steady Ed Headrick. (photo by Jack Trageser)

I have some discs that would go for much more than their original sales price if I ever decided to sell them, but all the discs in my possession that I value the most are dear to me for one of two reasons — either I have a sentimental attachment to them – like my first ace disc or a prototype signed and given to me by Steady Ed Headrick; or they are out of production and I still use them to play.

It’s the second reason that is the main subject of today’s post. Irreplaceable actually retains its literal definition when the object that is difficult or impossible to replace is actually serving a function rather than just gathering dust (in it’s dust cover, of course). The mere thought of losing a key disc in your bag and not being able to replace it can cause little beads of sweat to form on one’s forehead — am I right?

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