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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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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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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Four disc golf goals for ’13

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.

steveI 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.

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To play better disc golf … be a sponge!

By Jack Trageser — RattlingChains.com Staff

I’m speaking to all disc golfers here, but primarily to those of you who really love to play, maybe even 2-3 times a week, but still feel like you could get way better.

The Am2 players who want to move up to Am 1, the Am1 players who want to start challenging the pros, and the rec players eager to see your scores go down.

When you think “Be a Sponge” you probably think I mean something like “Soak up all the advice you can,” or “Watch the top pros whenever you can.”Though neither of those pieces of advice are bad, I’m thinking the opposite sponge metaphor.

The first thing to do when you want to get better disc golf scores is to wring out all the potential you currently have, even as you work to improve and expand your skill set. In any sport, when you hear about an athlete that maximized his or her potential, or overachieved, it’s usually in reference to someone with an average physical game but an extraordinary mental game and strong desire to get better. They squeeze the most out of their physical potential (like wringing out a wet, heavy sponge).

I’m not saying you have to dedicate yourselves to disc golf, a fitness regimen, or anything like that. Just use your head. Figure out ways that you waste strokes during a typical round, and eliminate the waste. Squeeze it out. I address specific ways you can do this in this piece, and in more detail at School of Disc Golf, but you know which areas you need to focus on most. Here are some basics to get you started:

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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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