So you’ve recently discovered disc golf, eh?
Congratulations! What you’ve found is a cheap, legal alternative to narcotics. Just as fun, probably more addicting.
As a new player, though, it can be tough to sift through all the noise and not be overwhelmed with information. I remember spending too many hours as a new player scouring the internet and various message boards for any tidbits I could absorb, and it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Suffice to say, it was information overload.
My goal here, then, is to fire up the flux capacitor, turn back the clock to when I was a new disc golfer, and think about what would have been helpful to me back then. Hopefully, it will help you now.
Consider me the Doc Brown to your Marty McFly.
Tip 1: Understable plastic is your friend
As a new player, it’s not likely you’re going to have the form developed to handle the fast, overstable stuff. What do I mean by overstable? If you picked up a Destroyer, say, because it had a cool name, but you can’t make it fly straight, you have an overstable disc.
Understable discs – ones that are designed to turn right for a right-handed backhanded thrower in the beginning phase of the flight – are going to be the easiest to get up to speed and, as a result fly straight. For some suggestions on good understable discs, keep reading, or consult columns K-Q of the Marshall Street Disc Golf Flight Guide.
Tip 2: Slow discs mean more control
I know, I know. Slow isn’t sexy. But you know what is? Staying in the fairway.
While many disc golf manufacturers will hype their newest high speed disc as great for beginners, that’s all marketing spin. Sure, it may go far, but it doesn’t do you much good to throw far if half of the distance is a meathook fade that has you staring at a jail of trees to reach the basket.
As a new player, discs with a speed rating of 7 and under are generally safe. You’ll get plenty of distance, but more control than you will with faster discs. If that means being 100 feet away from the basket with a clear shot instead of 50 feet out in the middle of the forest, that’s a good sacrifice to make.
Tip 3: Throw what gets you to the basket
I’m going to totally contradict myself here, but bear with me.
As touched on above, the predominant line of thinking from experienced disc golfers is that you should throw the slowest disc possible that will get you to the basket because slow means control. This is excellent advice that should not be discounted.
As a new player, though, just throw whatever the hell gets you to the basket the quickest. You may not be able to throw a putter well for drives yet (or have even realized that people drive with putters), or you may feel more confident throwing a driver even if it only goes 150 feet. Maybe there is some low-hanging canopy that won’t let you throw a midrange (as these discs generally need more height to work), or perhaps there is a line that is just begging for a low skip shot. Just have fun, get as close to the basket as you can, and go from there.
Plus, there’s an added bonus to throwing whatever gets you there in the beginning: Once you improve, it will be a lot of fun to see that you are putting yourself in birdie range with a speed 5 midrange instead of the speed 10 driver you started out with. Indeed, these milestones have been some of my most satisfying personal disc golf achievements over the years.
Tip 4: Work on your short game
Just like in baseball, the big fly is, without a doubt, the best part of disc golf. Understandably, you’ll want to go work on ripping off big drives in an effort to increase your distance and, with any luck, make this website obsolete. I get it.
You’ll shave a lot more strokes off your score, though, if you commit to working on your short game. Putting practice with a stack of your favorite putter is key, and making sure your upshots are accurate will make said putts even easier to make.
Sure, it might not be as much fun, but it’s the nuts and bolts kind of stuff like this that will improve your game, especially when your distance plateaus. Which it will.
Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to ask questions
No matter how old I get every 365 days, I still find that I am dumb about something. But, if I don’t strive to learn more about these things, I’ve lost the battle.
In the context of disc golf, there is plenty a new player can be dumb about. I was there once – and, in some cases, am still there – but the best thing I did was to go out to my local disc golf course, latch on with a group of seemingly friendly people and pump them for information. If they brush you off, find another group. Don’t let one know-it-all make you feel stupid or belittled (it might happen), because there are plenty of other disc golfers out there who want to spread the good word and share their love of the game.
Still feeling shy? Drop me a comment here or hit me up on Twitter @noodlearmdg. Internet anonymity can be a good thing, sometimes.