Welcome to THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY, a series that will give you ONE specific thought to focus on for your rounds.
In my own game, I have found that I can slow down my improvement by trying to fix too many things at the same time. Here is some context. As a lifelong disc golfer or ball golfer as we disc golfers like to say, I struggled with slicing the ball, as most amateurs do. I knew this stemmed from an outside-in swing plane and that I needed to develop an inside-out swing plane. This was easier said than done and I could never do this consistently. This all changed until I focused on ONE thing. I received a tip to lock my leading wrist. That was it. I instantly stopped slicing and once it began to feel natural, I went on to change and improve other parts of my swing. My goal with this series is to use this philosophy of focusing on one thing each week to help you improve your game.
This week’s tip: Limit your mistakes
We have all been in the following type of situation. A 45-foot putt for par with danger behind the disc golf basket. Can you make that putt? Yes, we all can… sometimes. What about the majority of the time when that putt misses though? We can end up in several situations that are far worse than laying up and taking your par: sailing past the disc golf basket, rollaways, going out of bounds, etc. Suddenly, a scrambling par is your best possible score while worse scores are still in play. In hindsight, the easy par is much more enticing.
Considering that most players below MPO level are making less than 25% of putts in this range, the metrics would support me. Imagine you get 4 of these types of putts per round. Laying up gives you 4 pars. Even if you go for it every time, the chances that more than one goes in are slim. If you make one, that gives you only one stroke to play with for the other 3 risky chances you will be taking. 1 bogey cancels out the awesome putt you made. 2 bogeys, and now you are stressed and with a worse score. You will now feel tempted to go for more unnecessary risks to continue making up for the strokes lost.
This philosophy is transferable to several other situations we often find ourselves in on the course. Have you ever shanked your drive 30 feet left/right of your intended target and found yourself trapped behind a tree or some obstacle? After this miss, it is usually a better judgment call to pitch out to a safe spot, “take your medicine”, and figure out a way to save par or bogey at worst. That might not be as fun or gratifying as splitting a 5-foot gap in the trees on a big flex line that parks you next to the disc golf basket, meriting high fives and praise from your card mates. But again, what is the higher percentage play? The thoughtful analysis would say the safe pitch out.
Of course, there may be times when you can respectably throw my advice out the window. As you near the end of your event, you can start to weigh the importance of winning versus your overall placement. If you are behind several strokes with minimal holes remaining, you might have to play the risky shot to catch the leader, though poor scores may push you further down the leaderboard. When playing match play events, go for glory on most shots because you can only lose one point for a given hole. When you bring a new disc golfer to the course for the first time, they won’t be too impressed by your safe pitchout. Show them all the amazing things you can do with the disc golf discs, and how durable they are when they square up a tree. I am mostly being facetious with this last example, but I think by now that most people will understand my point.
Limiting mistakes will consistently give you a good score, while going for great shots may hurt your score. Eliminating these easily avoidable mistakes can start saving you right away and turn stressful rounds into stress-free rounds. Because disc golf puts a premium on our mental strength and toughness, keeping our game simple and safe can keep us at peace while we are playing. This inner peace will lead us to better scores.
Get out and play some disc golf this week! Let me know of a time on your rounds when you saved some strokes by limiting your possible mistakes.
Molenny Disc Golf
Team Disc Store