I haven’t had a controversial blog post in awhile so let’s start with this. If you’re throwing 350+ feet you likely don’t need more distance. “But Andrew, we always want more distance! Simon, Garett, and Eagle all throw far, that's what I want to do. So give me that 14 speed and I’m going to let it rip!”
That’s how I felt for years too. I wanted to throw 500 feet like Paul, Paige, Jennifer Allen, Ricky, and all those other big arms. I’ve got a rack in the garage full of overstable high speed drivers that I can barely throw. But I’ve changed my mind in the past few years. How did I arrive at my conclusion? I asked myself some questions about the distance and how much it really affects my overall score.
How often do you really need to throw 350 feet?
On the SDG Hawk Course you’d be blowing past holes 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 17, 18 if you threw that far on your drive. And hole’s 3 and 9 would be hard to push past 350 because of the tight lines you have to hit. You’d be better off learning to control a 200 foot shot with your Roc or Aviar, rather than working on the extra distance with a driver. Now I get it, not every course is the Hawk. Some courses are more open, and 500 feet of power would be awesomesauce. If you’re playing open courses with long distance, then you absolutely should be throwing a high speed driver on those holes to get maximum distance. On former ball golf courses or wide open spaces, I guess you do need the distance.
How much is the extra distance going to matter?
If I put in hours at the soccer fields by my house, could I get another consistent 25 or 50 feet on my drives? Maybe, maybe more. But then I think of holes like 14 of the Eagle Course. It’s the long wide open drive hole where you can test your distance. It’s 588 feet to the basket that’s perched up on the hill. It’s unlikely that I’m going to be throwing close enough with my drive to have a realistic shot at 2. I can already throw driver/driver or driver/mid and have a putt for a 3, if my second shot is good. If Simon Lizotte and Drew Gibson aren’t getting to putting range with their drives on the hole then it’s probably not doable for me.
Would I be better off getting 50 feet more on my drive or working on a longer upshot?
I think it’s important to practice what you’re going to do on the course the most, the most. So I like to break down types of shots into numbers. How many putts, drives, and upshots I’ll take that round.
I’m going to have a minimum of 18 putts on a course when I play it. If I shoot a 54 that’s 1/3 of my shots. I know I’m going to duff a couple putts or have a tough lie and miss, so putting really contributes to my score more than the 1/3 of the time. I should spend at least 33% of my practice time putting; that way I get better at what’s costing me strokes.
Very few courses are all par 3’s so I’m going to have plenty of upshots as well. Let’s say another 18 of those, so I should spend another ⅓ of my practice time working on upshots. Forehand, backhand, patent pending, I have to get comfortable with getting close to the basket.
Now for driving, it’s not going to be power throwing drives because, like I mentioned earlier, only a couple of times on a course do I need max distance. On the Hawk I really only smash 1 drive on Hole 14 as hard as I can. So 1/54 of my shots means I should spend 2% of my time practicing long drives. I’d be better off using UDisc to measure out 200 feet and 300 feet and maybe 350 feet. There’s a lot of holes out there that are only a couple hundred feet. Maybe I can dial in my Simon SkyGod P2 distance. I know right now that it feels really good at 215 feet. So when I get to a tee sign that says 220 or 200 feet I can pull out my skygod and have confidence.
Broken down, this means if I practice for 30 minutes then I would spend 10 minutes putting, 10 minutes practicing upshots, and 36 seconds working on my max distance drives.
What distance work should I do then?
You should always work on maintaining your distance, and you should work on throwing further. But don’t let that be the end all, be all of your practice. It’s not about the 400 foot bombs you can hit; you might need to throw those once per round. These also drain you of your energy. If you’ve ever gone into a field and thrown 6-10 drivers, picked them up, and drove them again, you’d find that you would start to get tired and lose distance after maybe 20 throws. So my advice is to focus more on your putts or upshots. Then throw a few bombs if you want to work on the long distance shot, but don’t tire yourself out throwing 400 feet for that single long hole in a round. As I Mentioned earlier, practice what you’re going to need the most.
So what if you're saying to yourself, "This blog doesn’t apply to me, I can’t throw more than 200 feet. What should I do?" I’m not going to say that everyone can throw 350 feet, players who are very young or may be further along in their years may not be able to consistently hit 350 feet. Casual par is designed with the 250 foot driving player in mind; that’s from the course design guide from the PDGA. They’re not suggesting we have par 3’s 450 feet in length. So if you’re maxing out at a couple hundred feet, I have a few suggestions for you. The first is to make sure your disc is getting a full flight S curve. I’ll go into more detail on that in a future blog about distance, but you might want to consider a lighter disc and/or a more understable disc to make sure you get that S curve for maximum distance. These are a couple of my recommendations for players who are looking for a little bit extra distance. I bag the Leopard3 as one of my understable choices and it’s staying in my bag for a long time.
If you disagree with me and think distance is the most important thing, or if you agree and have some more advice to add, let me know here with a comment. In the meantime, I hope that everyone is out there getting those birdies!
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397