Throwing techniques and course hazards
Disc Golf for Beginners
Disc golf, commonly called Frisbee golf, is a fun way to spend time outdoors with family or friends. It is challenging as well as rewarding.
This series will discuss different aspects of disc golf. This article covers throwing techniques and course hazards.
If you’ve ever tossed a Frisbee around at a park, the beach, etc, you know the basic movement needed to launch a disc. While much could be written about the subtleties of throwing a disc, for a beginner there are just a few basic things to remember. As you improve you’ll want to explore other techniques. There are a LOT of different styles you can learn and experiment with.
Basic backhand throw
Right hand throws normally curve left at the end of its flight, left hand throws curve right.
To begin with, work on getting a level flight. At some point you’ll want to work on power, but for now just make sure you can get a good straight release.
In this discussion it assumes that you are throwing with your right hand. If you’re a lefty, just do the opposite.
When you hold the disc you’ll want to have a good firm grip. Not so much that it affects the release, but still fairly tight. Your thumb will be on the top of the disc, your four fingers will be on the bottom, inside the rim. There are other grips, but this one is fine to start with.
You should look sideways at your target as you throw. Your shoulders should be somewhat parallel to the basket. Since you are rotating your body you don’t stay in a parallel position for long.
As you bring the disc back into a wind-up, focus on keeping it flat and level. It should be just below your chest in height. Bring your right hand back until your right shoulder is near your chin. As bring your hand forward to throw, keep the disc close to your midsection. And again focus on keeping it as flat as possible as you bring it across your body.
The power should come from your right shoulder more than your right arm. Don’t start your throw at full power, slowly increase for the first 1/3 of the motion, then go full power.
Ultimately you’ll want to have a little run-up to get more distance but for now just shift your weight from your left leg to your right as you throw, similar to regular golf. This is important. A failure to shift weight robs you of momentum and power.
Maintain a nice, level disc all the way through your throw. Release the disc toward the basket. The force of the throw helps with the release Follow through with your rotation after the release.
Once you get this basic motion down you’ll notice that you get more consistent drives. As you gain experience you’ll definitely want to experiment with different styles, particularly one called a side-arm or forehand throw.
There are also throwing techniques for certain situations, such as the tomahawk and the Scooby. Check out YouTube for video clips on these and other types of throws.
Like regular golf, putting is an important part of disc golf. If you can become consistent at hitting putts when you’re close to the basket you’ll improve your scores drastically. The farther away you can consistently hit the basket, the more confidence you’ll have as a player.
Many courses have a basket just for putting. Use it before you play, to get warmed up.
A good putting technique is to basically toss the disc into the basket like your throwing over an obstacle.
Face the basket, placing your right foot forward, and left foot back, slightly more than shoulder width apart. As you throw the disc you will shift your weight from your back foot to your right foot, and as you release you’ll be entirely on your right foot, with your left foot in the air.
Using a grip like drive, but instead of having all four fingers touching the rim, have only one, with the other three somewhat extended. By extending your fingers you gain more control at keeping the disc level
To start the throw you’ll rock back so most of your weight is on your back foot. Your arm will hang down on the inside of your right knee. Let the disc hang down, and keep your right arm straight. Only bend your elbow slightly during the entire motion. As you raise your arm you’ll rock forward.
When you reach the point that your right arm is pointing to the basket, the disc should be parallel to the ground. At that point, release the disc. Note that you are only giving the disc a slight spinning motion. It’s more of a push motion. Follow through with your right arm as you place all of your weight on your right foot.
Practice without a disc to make your motion fluid. Picture a large bush between you in the basket. Your goal is to toss the disc in a way that it floats over the obstacle and into the basket. Picture that motion and the flight of the disc.
If your putt is too far away to make the push putt practical, you may need to use more spin, which requires a different technique.
When you practice your putts you become familiar with your ‘comfort zone’ 11 the area that you feel confident you’ll sink a putt most of the time. Then as you approach the basket on any given hole you just need to try to get the disc within your comfort zone. As mentioned above, the more you practice, the larger your comfort zone.
Just like regular golf, disc golf courses have hazards you should avoid. Ponds, streams, trees, and bushes are common hazards. When your disc hits any of these hazards it frustrating and time-consuming. Retrieving a disc from a tree or pond can take a long time and might leave you with a few ‘souvenirs’, such as scrapped arms or soggy shoes.
Since most of these hazards are present on every course it’s best to take precautions the best you can, then just go have fun. You WILL end up hitting hazards eventually.
Write your name and number on your discs. Then, if you can’t find or retrieve a disc, you still have a chance that you’ll get it back. If you find a disc with a phone number on it, create some good Karma and give them a call.
Many trees have been climbed to retrieve a disc. If you can see your disc and can climb to it safely, it might be worth the effort. Keep in mind that the cost of one broken arm would pay for a lot of replacement discs. Sometimes you can find a broken branch on the ground that you can use to knock the disc out. That’s probably why the branch is there in the first place!
If you throw a disc into a tree or tall grass, you might end up spending some time looking for it. If the course is busy, let other golfers play through. It speeds up play for everyone, and those players might give you a hand looking for the disc.