Hi, I’m Tim and I have an addictive personality. The trick with that is to channel it into something POSITIVE rather than negative (booze, drugs, sex, gambling). During the pandemic I was a sandwich guy. Before that I was a bread guy. Before that I was (am) an alcoholic and Arsenal addict. This year my addiction is leading me to play disc golf.
You don’t have to listen to anything I have to say about anything. I am not a subject matter expert on most things, even football, which I have been writing about for over 15 years. Oh wait, I do consider myself an expert on pizza. There are many posts about that on this site. You can look them up if you like. I can also help you out with some bread recipes. You should probably listen to me on those topics.
But with the unearned confidence of a middle aged white guy I’m going to now tell you about disc golf. That’s mostly what I am going to write about this summer. I have had a request for some sandwich content and I will deliver that as well but it’s probably mostly going to be about disc golf.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m a disc golf expert. Instead, I’m just going to take you on my journey. I will make mistakes along the way, I will admit when I was wrong (which I always do), and I will keep plugging along, trying to make progress.
Here’s a couple of philosophical points about all of this. The first is that what will hopefully make this at all interesting is that I’m an outsider looking in. I’ve always been an outsider, an observer. Even though it might not seem like it since this blog got somewhat popular for a few years, I am even an outsider among Arsenal supporters. I think it’s part of my family DNA. My Grandfather was a great painter but he never wanted to show his work or be part of the artists community near him. I’ve been an outsider in every “group” I’ve tried to join, always struggling to fit in, never quite fitting in. Looking at me, with my Polo Ralph Lauren shirts and khaki pants, you’d never guess that I like hardcore, punk, and metal music. One of the first concerts I ever went to was Flipper and SNFU. I’ve seen Samhain, Government Issue, the Accused, and tons of bands like that all over the place from Hawaii to DC. But I don’t have a chain wallet and I don’t have sleeves (tattoos). So, I don’t fit in with those folks and I absolutely don’t fit in with the vast majority of people in the USA.
I don’t even fit in with my generation (X). I can’t stand most of them. And trust me when I say this: they are going to be worse than the Boomers when they take over politics. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll skip a generation.
So, all of this is to say that what this is is an outsider looking in at disc golf. I see it with fresh eyes. I don’t have any preconceived notions (other than the smoking weed thing). I’m a disc golf baby.
The other thing that might make this interesting is my philosophy about gradual progress. Maybe it’s part of my Chinese Zodiac (Dog) but I have a weird tenacity (uhh… this blog) which drives me forward. I’m not trying to get everything all at once. I don’t get frustrated (too much) when I fail. I understand that you have to first suck at something in order to eventually get kinda good at that thing.
And I also have a weirdly experimental mindset. I’m not afraid to try something different. To go against convention, to hear what the experts have to say about something and then try it differently for myself. Usually this fails but with sports (disc golf is a sport, I think!) there’s the right way, the wrong way, and then the way that works for you. Unless you’re trying to become a professional disc golfer I think this is probably the right approach. Maybe you disagree. Maybe I’m wrong. I guess we’ll find out.
A few things that I’ve observed over the last few months will illustrate this last point. Let’s talk forehand throws for a second.
There are two main throws in disc golf – forehand and backhand. Right hand backhand shots mostly finish fading left and right hand forehand shots mostly finish fading right. Disc golf courses are set up with both shots in mind (plus some trickier shots as well) and so, in my opinion, you should probably be able to throw both shots (or you can have the right discs and some other tricks).
But what I’ve observed is that most folks my age throw almost exclusively forehand. I played a round with a guy who ONLY threw forehand (he also stashed a gun in his pants because this is america) and he easily beat me because his forehand was incredibly consistent. In fact, I thought his forehand was better from a standstill and from his upshots than it was from the tee box where he would take a few extra steps. And to add insult to injury, he only carried three discs! And all his discs were overstable.
If you remember there are three types of discs; understable, overstable and sort of neither. Understable discs have a lot of turn in the high speed portion of the throw and as a result, they go RIGHT with a right-hand-back-hand. These are the discs that most beginners are told to buy. Overstable discs will always fade LEFT (with a right-hand-back-hand throw). What’s confusing about this is that you flip everything for forehand: overstable now goes RIGHT, understable now goes LEFT. Trust me, I still get confused about this in the tee box.
Ok, so what he did to achieve his nearly par round on an incredibly tough course was that he would throw his driver almost always on what’s called “annie” or anhyzer angle. This means that he was always throwing what the disc golfers call a FLEX shot. Since overstable discs always want to turn RIGHT (on forehand) if you throw them with an anhyzer angle, you will force them to go left and then they will “flip” back up and fly straight for a bit and then fade right at the end (again this is for forehand).
It’s a useful little trick and one which Robbie C suggests that we don’t do* if we are new to disc golf. I agree with Robbie C. You should learn how to master both angles with both types of throws so that you can be all around better at disc golf. And the reason for that is actually kind of simple: if you learn that flex shot you will immediately get a lot better and immediately be able to throw further, so much so that you might stop developing other throws.
I like forehand. I’m more accurate with it than backhand right now (I’m not going to be a forehand only guy, don’t worry!) but it took me a little bit of weird practice to get here. I basically practice every day. At least putting, if not full play on a course near me.
In the course of that practice (along with about 40 YouTube videos and 40 people giving me advice) I actually stumbled into a way to throw forehand that works for me. Here are three tips from me that helped me, take them or leave them!
First, learn to flick the disc. Robbie C has you sit on a bench and flick the disc. Brodie Smith has… Bro Tips, which is a genuinely hilarious name.. and both techniques are great for learning the flick. I like the Bro Tips better because he throws to a buddy and you don’t have to go retrieve the disc after every throw! It helps maximize your practice. Get a buddy and flick!
Second, get a grip. Why is this second? Because I’m going to tell you that I do it wrong. Almost every video you see will tell you to use a stacked grip and maybe that will work for you. It didn’t work for me. The disc would catch on the big knuckle of my pointer finger and I couldn’t flick it properly. My knuckles are huge I guess. What worked for me was just purely accidental. I pinched the rim of the disc between my middle finger and thumb and used my pointer finger as just a balance point on the bottom plate of the disc. What this allows me to do is “pop” the disc and impart tons of spin. Maybe I’ll try a stacked grip again in a little while. For now, this is how I throw! And it works LAMF.
Third, and this is probably the most important tip: don’t use your arm. Forehand isn’t about your arm, it’s about using your body to generate momentum and the flick to get spin. In fact, you will know you’re using your arm when A) your biceps hurt or B) your shoulder hurts and C) your forehands fly straight into the dirt 20 feet in front of you off to the left. I still do this from time to time and it’s always funny.
Anyway, that’s it. Those are my tips. Here are my thought processes when throwing forehand:
- Pinch the disc
- Noodle arm (this is my way of reminding myself that my arm doesn’t do the work)
- Aim slightly right (this is for me, you’ll figure out your aim point)
- Wind up (I literally use my left hand in front of the disc to make sure I am turning my body)
- Release my body and flick
Again, I’m no expert on this but I can throw a useful forehand and I played a difficult wooded course the other day with just +5 over par!
Get yourself a buddy and a couple discs (start with putter!) and practice throwing forehands to each other.
Good luck out there!
I’m playing tonight with some friends so maybe I’ll have a report on that tomorrow.
*He also has a tip in that video and in his beginner forehand video which will make you better at forehands all around.