Baby Steps Towards Hole 18

I feel I should provide advice concerning the entry into the sport of disc golf. I have a tweaked approach to learning the game than most websites, but if you want more information you should visit “noodle arm disc golf”. They have a good beginner tips article.

Material requirements:

At least one basket, at least one disc, and at least one arm.

Getting a Basket:

Good quality chains are pricy. If you live within ten miles of a course, then I would think you could find time to use a basket there. (Disc golf is free if you hadn’t heard yet.) Having a personal basket is an integral part of becoming a consistent putter, but there is no better practice than “running” (or attempting) putts at a real course. Most people start playing the sport because it is cheap. Only once a person decides to get serious about their play should they think about getting their own basket.

Getting a Disc:

Now, this is what you must understand about discs before you spend money:

There is a difference between frisbees and discs. Discs are smaller and not great for catch. If you like regular frisbees then try a sport called ultimate frisbee.

In disc golf lingo, there are two types of discs. There are overstable discs and understable discs. If a disc is overstable that means when a right-handed person backhands a disc in a straight line the disc will finish its flight to the left. Discs that are understable are supposed to fly to the right or go straight and finish right. The more overstable a disc is, the harder it is to throw.

With this information, you will be wondering how to figure out what disc to purchase and how to purchase it. My first recommendation is DO NOT go into a local sporting goods store. Do not take this lightly. If you go into a store you will see a larger selection of discs than you know what to do with. You will then make about 5 impulse buys and spend money on discs you might not be able to throw. For your first disc, I would suggest going online. The big brands have their own shops and I would suggest Innova because that is the main plastic I throw. (All discs have flight rating systems but Innova’s makes the most sense and helps you understand a disc’s tendencies more pre-throw.)

Lots of consideration will go into the selection of a disc online. First you need to find something with stability that suits you. Here is the simplest way to point you in that direction: Look at the first number on the disc. Innova will tell you the first number stands for the “Speed” of the disc. This is an extremely misleading term because it does not tell you how fast the disc flies or how much it rotates. “Speed” is a complicated way of describing how fast you must release a disc for it to perform its ideal flight. For our case, we are going to re-label the first number. We are going to call it “Stability” instead.

Once at the Innova shop I would say that the best bet for a beginner is anything under a 6 stability. All discs come in multiple hardness of plastic. If you want a durable disc, then try to purchase the disc in champion plastic. If you are trying to conserve resources you can buy a DX plastic disc. The plastic of a disc should not change flights too much.

After the disc and plastic are selected the only thing remaining is the disc weight. Here is a rule of thumb for me that other websites will advise against. ALWAYS buy max weight discs. People suggest beginners throw lighter discs because they will go farther. This is a trap and an excuse companies make so that beginners will still buy their 12 speed drivers. No matter how light of a disc you throw, if you do not build your game up from the ground your incorrect form will take a long time to fix. The whole weight thing is a marketing gimmick. It is essential to purchase max weight discs that are less stable to begin with.

If all this becomes too much or too expensive just remember how much you could be spending on a club and a round of ball golf. That should reassure you.

Getting an Arm:

In the literal sense of a physical appendage, I hope my Lord has blessed you with a healthy body and one arm, minimum.

In the figurative sense of building your arm strength, I have a secret for you. It is all form. As helpful as lifting is to keep in shape it’s nonconsequential to disc throwing. I have not played much ball golf, but I have heard it is similar in how even people who are somewhat out of shape can drive a good distance just because of the swing. A good way to learn form is to look up film of your favorite player and analyze how they throw. Or look up form videos.

I hope I have guided you the way you needed help finding. For those about to throw, we salute you.

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The Case for Six Holes

I have some personal bias towards courses with a small number of holes because my “home course” only consists of six holes. The course by my future university is also just nine holes. If there was an 18-hole setup within three miles of my house, then I might be fonder of them. Today I will attempt to give the positives and negatives of a six-hole course and help you to determine which you would prefer.

Pros:

Less walking.

The fact the course only holds 6 holes means the person in charge didn’t have much land to plan around to start with. We can assume that even if one was to play through three times they still would be walking less than on an actual 18-hole course.

Correct signage.

If the designer was stuck with a small piece of land, then it is probable that the baskets will never get moved. It is doubtful there will be multiple basket placements. This means the baskets should be where the sign says they are. (My father never agrees with distances that are written on signs. From experience, I must agree that the hole distances are never very accurate, even on a short course.)

Less traffic.

Most “serious” disc golfers consider six hole courses jokes. For them six holes is just for practice not for actual scoring. (The funny thing is most of the serious ones still produce amateur scores on full length courses. If they were to try hard on a small course they might realize that it isn’t something to laugh at.) If you are trying to avoid other disc golf snobs or you are looking for a quick round a six-hole is empty most of the time.

Less discs lost.

If a course is shorter then there is less opportunity to lose any of your precious discs. On top of this, there is less traffic so if you do lose a disc you should be able to come back and find it later that week before someone else does.

Cons:

Repetitive.

If you do still want to play eighteen holes, by the third time around the course could get a little boring. This is especially true if the course is wide open and you’ve been cranking drives on every tee.

Less Respect.

I already stated that other disc golfers might not think much of the small course. This is also true if the course is in a public park. Fellow park goers, oblivious to the use of the course, get in the way and don’t worry about getting out of the way. Then you will also worry about some mean kid stealing a disc before you can reach it or some dog chasing it. Also, lots of dog walkers think the property is there as a dog park. The moral is that we must show other people respect even if they don’t care about being respectful.

No Signage.

I know this is a little hypocritical of what I told you earlier. Hear me out. If a designer had less funding for a course, then the holes/tees should be numbered but you might not get a map. That means walking until you find the matching basket. It is not that big of a deal but people (like my dad) get frustrated when they are required to search for a hole.

Less competition.

If there was a higher demand for disc golf in a town then they would have a full 18 built. This means finding casual competition will not be easy and there is most likely not a disc golf club in the town. This means you have a lot of work or driving to do if you want to become very involved in the disc golf community.

Less discs found.

Most of the time disc golfers put their cell number on their discs. That means if their disc is found they’d like to get it back. I have returned two discs in the past and the golfers were very appreciative. If you lose a disc and someone else finds it then they are entitled to call you and return it. If not, they lack something that the rest of us considerate humans have. If you have given up on finding a disc on a six-hole course it is doubtful you’ll ever get called about that disc. Maybe no one will ever find it.

I do enjoy the six-hole course that is in my hometown. I play it, on average, three times a week. If you are a beginner or an amateur, then you will enjoy a small course. I have found it is a great place to play a putter-only round, if you are familiar with those. I would also like to warn all beginners: You will be discouraged if you try eighteen holes right off the bat. I plan on writing a post for new beginners soon so hold tight.

In My Bag, with Hugh Keene: Spring 2017 Edition

Hello, it has been quite a while since I posted anything, and I figured that I might as well update my bag so you can see all the changes. Also, I am not doing too much physical activity because I had my wisdom teeth removed yesterday. (What a pain).

bag tag 119

I will start with my putters. I have had many putters come and go in my bag since my first post, but recently I have discovered a putter I might use for a long time.

 

Kastaplast REKO

I have two of these putters, and they are both 172 grams. One is K3 line plastic and the other is K1 line. Long story short, I walked into the local Play-It-Again store and was looking for a Discmania putter to fill the hole I had in my short game. The store had just received a large influx of a brand I had never seen before: Kastaplast. I touched one of their putters and I loved how the plastic felt as well as the shape of the disc. As much as it is against my custom to buy non-Innova discs, I purchased it and haven’t looked back. I have yet to find an Innova putter that is as flat across the surface and as straight flying as the REKO. Also, the K1 line plastic is surprisingly durable. The REKO gives me confidence I can hit putts from anywhere.

putterstack

XT Nova

As I mentioned in my first “In The Bag” I have two XT Novas. They hold their line to a “T”. The downside of how shapeable they are being you can easily put too much juice on them. The plastic on the rim is very grippy and the Nova is a great upshot disc because it loves to stick its landings. One 171 grams and one is 175 grams.

Building on top of my putters is my Mid-Ranges. I’ve cut down my Mid selection considerably since my first post. It only consists of two discs now. If you need other Mid-Range ideas and tips I suggest watching Big Jerm’s “In the Bag” on Youtube.

KC Pro Roc

I believe this is the oldest disc in my bag. (Oldest meaning the disc I have held onto the longest, not meaning the oldest by production date.) It has taken over the duties of my fairway drivers and I use it for many things including drives and upshots and maybe putts. It flies a great line if you throw it flat. I can easily get it to hyzer or anhyzer accurately. A point and shoot disc. I recommend it to beginners in any plastic. If you can learn to throw a Roc you might not even need to buy that metal flake Gator or that Star Mako3. (I don’t know if either of those even exist) The point being that a Roc can solve all your Mid-Range problems and save you money and bag space as your skills grow. 175 grams.

G-Star VRoc

I needed a version of a Roc that I could throw in rough areas so I would not have to risk tearing up my only KC Pro. The G-Star plastic serves this role well and it seriously might fly straighter than my KC Pro Roc. This VRoc is good on the rocks, haha. It is 171 grams.

Now my Fairway Driver. I just have one disc in this section

Champion Leopard

The result of throwing mainly my Roc for approach shots and such leaves little room for Fairway discs to be included in my game. If you have watched any of Simon Lizotte’s videos he says that he either throws down on drivers for shorter shots or he throws up on putters. He doesn’t worry too much about the in between. My Champion Leopard is what I throw in wooded areas for approach and finesse shots. It has become a utility disc at best. It is 171 grams.

Now for the largest part of my bag. The distance drivers. This is the part of my bag that has transformed the most. My form has become much better since my first “In The Bag” and so my distance selection has expanded along with my skills.

Glow Champion Destroyer

This is the only disc that remains in my distance arsenal from the first article. As I mentioned then, it is very overstable and has a skip/roll at the end of its flight which I can’t get my other discs to perform. You can visit my previous article for more on it. I think it is the only tournament stamped disc I currently carry. It is my main forehand disc and weighs 168 grams.

Blizzard Champion Boss

151 grams of pure stable plastic. I got it with the recent David Wiggins Jr. distance record stamp. Probably the most enjoyable things in a round of 18 is letting this disc fly and seeing it glide a big S-curve. I just bought it brand new and I can’t wait to throw it more and to see how it performs once it is beat in. It should become a mainstay in my bag.

Champion Krait

Dad gave me this predictable and reliable disc. It is 171 grams and has a smooth hyzer. I can get a good release on it both forehand and backhand. Comfortable in my hand. I’ll be keeping it a while and probably could use another one.

C-Line DDx

175 grams. It has become my main disc for long distance lines. It feels like a Destroyer with more dome. It flies well both forehand and backhand but backhand is much more efficient. It is my pin money disc.

Champion Ape

I bought this two days ago because I read online that it is torque resistant. That is what I am looking for in my distance discs. The rim is not very comfortable but it isn’t painful. I have only thrown it about five times and it has not let me down. We will see how helpful it is moving forward. It is 175 grams.

P-Line DD2

To be completely honest I must say this disc is rarely used and I think I will trade it for something else soon. It gets insane distance, but what Discmania gained in distance with this disc it lacked in stability and control.

P-Line PD

This disc is a backhand MONSTER. It is comfy to throw and reliable on its paths. I feel as if it is a beefed-up Leopard. The only downside to this disc is the P-Line plastic beats in very, very quickly. It is 175 grams.

S-Line PD

Another 175 grams. I purchased this disc because, like I previously stated, my P-Line was not going to last me very long. This disc works both forehand and backhand.

P-Line CD

While my parents were vacationing in South Carolina they bought me this disc as a souvenir. I do not throw it a whole lot but there is a funny story with this disc. One of the few times I used it was when I obtained the only Eagle in my career. It has nice glide but is almost too easy to turnover.

distancedriverpile

And that is all that is in my bag as of right now! A lot has happened to my game since the first time I did this, including a ruptured Achilles tendon, a weekend membership drive and I joined a local club. I look forward to having major improvement in my game this summer as I learn my discs’ limits and tendencies. Be prepared for an eventual Summer “In The Bag”.

 

Ken “The Champ” Climo: The Gold Standard

There is an aspect of every sport that people enjoy debating. Who is the best? They are perpetual arguments and drive serious sports fanatics to research. It convinces them that they must obtain as much historical evidence and data as they can to support their side. In the NBA there is the MJ and Kobe argument. (Some older, uninformed, relative will over hear the conflict and try to be astute by claiming, “Wilt Chamberlain was the GOAT. Just look at his numbers.”) Or, for Spurs fans like me, there is the argument that Duncan was the best power forward ever. (This is where the same relative from earlier interjects, “Tim Duncan wasn’t even a power forward! He was a center.”)  For NFL fans then there is always the more current acclamation that Tom Brady has proven himself as the greatest quarterback in league history. All of the well-known sports have such discussions.

Professional disc golf fans have nothing to discuss.

Kenneth R. Climo, PDGA #4297. He goes by Ken and is also known as “The Champ”. It is IMPOSSIBLE to argue his greatness or his secure place upon the disc golf Mount Rushmore.

ken-climo-japan-open-2006-putt-172x172
Ken Climo putting.

 

 

Before we jump into his career and stats let us answer a question. What makes an athlete great in their sport? There are many ways to make cases for greatness. In most sports you win by scoring the most points so the statisticians keep track of career points. More points make a player greater maybe? Or, greatness could be all the accolades that come along with their success, such as MVP awards or the Gold Glove and FIFA Golden Ball award.

When I look at an athlete and discuss their greatness I go directly to the championships column. Championships are the ultimate test and the things that athletic competitors live for. If a player competed for a lengthy career he should have multiple championships to be considered great. Sorry for another NBA example but this will show my point of view:

Bill Russell.

Playing career: 1956-1969.

Championships: 11, made the playoffs every year of his career and won a string of 8 consecutive championships between ’58 and ’66.

Wilt Chamberlain.

Playing career: 1959-1973.

Championships: 2.

Looking at this comparison tell me who was/is the GOAT. Guess which one has the NBA Finals MVP award named after him?

Greatness is exemplified by the champions who continue to win. Winning becomes a habit to them, and it is almost a yearly event. Not only did Bill win eleven championships in only 13 years of playing he did it against great competition. Wilt is considered one of the best ever, but they played at the SAME TIME. Bill obviously was the one doing something right. (I will address teammate quality shortly.) We will use the Russell blueprint to examine Ken’s disc golf greatness.

Ken Climo started playing disc golf late in high school but did not turn pro until 1988, when he would have been about 20. He still plays a few tournaments a year, and he continues to win now at the age of 49, presently competing in the Masters division. The most recent record on Wikipedia has him notched at 231 career professional wins with 103 recorded aces. If he has, in fact, been playing for 29 years that would mean he averages 3.6 aces a year. (I have yet to hit a single, lonesome one…) Here is the really important stat: Ken has 12 open division Disc Golf World Championships. He has 3 more World titles in the Masters division, placing his career total at 15!! He also is a five-time champ of the U.S. Disc Golf Championships.

Like Bill Russell, Ken won multiple consecutive championships, refusing to lose at Worlds from 1990-1998. That is unprecedented! Even more impressive is that he was solely responsible for the accomplishments. In the Russell vs. Wilt argument we have to consider that Bill might have just been blessed to land on productive and motivated teams while Wilt could have been stuck on teams of losers. There is not this margin of error when observing what Ken Climo has done. He did not require help from a team, he won 9 consecutive titles with his own hands.

If disc golf would have had as much media coverage then as it does now, Ken would be on the lead card of every YouTube video that SpinTV produced. If it had as much coverage as ball golf receives then he would be as coveted as Tiger Woods. Fans would watch his game no matter where on the leaderboard he sat. He would be more royalty than he already is.

As we come full circle the reality is that there have been many disc golfers that have won and many that are going to win in the future, just as in all sports. Ken just decided to win at the right time and for a long time. I want to be like Ken. (Not “Mike”, get it?)

If you would like to learn more about the man who represents disc golf’s Gold Standard, I would suggest watching the 1999 World Championships on YouTube. (Spoiler, Ken does not win that year, but he should’ve because I don’t know how Ron Russell made any putts with the form he used.) Wikipedia will give you a full account of his honors and accomplishments. You can also google the episode of Final Round Radio podcast that has Climo as their guest speaker. It is very insightful into his very confident mindset and the only lengthy interview I can find of him on the internet. I truly wish we had more footage of Climo’s game in his prime.

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