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.

6 Ways To Tell If You Have Ruptured Your Achilles.

The strongest and largest tendon in our body, the calcaneal tendon, was named after the Greek god Achilles. I have not yet determined if this was because Achilles was defeated in battle because of his harmed leg or if it was because he was the strongest and largest fighter on the battlefield. I know for a fact, as well as from experience, that if my calcaneal tendon was disabled mid-battle I would be rendered almost utterly useless and immobile. Mine was ruptured clean through during an ultimate frisbee pickup game, not a Greek and Trojan war, and I could barely hobble to my car to drive home. If you have just suffered of a similar series of events, or you plan on rupturing your calcaneal tendon in the future, here are the warning signals of which you should be attentive.

I was going up for a defensive deflection. (Playing the “deep deep” position of our matchup zone, for you Ultimate players.) There was a cherry picker named Chuck that I was attempting a chase down block on. I backpedaled with my eyes on the disc then I wound up for the leap of glory. Except it never came. As I began to leave the ground I collapsed in pain. I was sure I had just felt Chuck’s toe contacting the back of my heel. After the fact, I found out that anyone who suffers from a rupture says the same thing. They all were kicked in their tendon too, even when there wasn’t another soul around. It is the first sign.

I laid on the ground slightly holding my left ankle. It is not unbearable pain and I did not cry, but it was by far the biggest injury I have suffered in my athletic career. For this reason, all my buddies came over and asked if I was okay but none of them seemed too concerned. They had just come to assume I would get back up and shake it off. That’s how it usually goes. I sat for an extended period and then was helped up, but something was wrong. I could not apply pressure to any of my toes on my left foot. That is the second sign.

After explaining it to my parents when I returned home I was then scheduled for an appointment at Peak Sport and Spine three days later. My foot swelled up and developed a bruise in the side of my heel. It was dark purple and blue. I still could not use my left toes to any capacity. That is the third sign.

bruisedheel
Picture taken four weeks post surgery yet you can still see a trace of the purple bruise near the bottom of my foot.

Arriving for my appointment, I noticed the therapist and her assistant were not very hopeful looking. The therapist tried to keep me somewhat hopeful but I sensed a feeling from the student intern that this was a serious situation. She said she had never seen someone as young as me have a complete rupture. She scheduled an appointment at an Orthopedic Group for me. She said if I was not in pain then it meant that the tendon was clean tore apart. My pain had already disappeared. That is the fourth sign

I went to the orthopedic doctor. He squeezed my calves and my left foot did not react properly. He began reassuring me that it would be completely possible for me to return to full activity after rehab, that it would not end my athletic career. He tried to put me at ease, but I failed all his tests and he scheduled an MRI for me the next day. That is the fifth sign.

On my way to the MRI that day I received a call. I was informed that my MRI had been canceled. The doctors at the group had consulted and decided that it was obvious enough how badly I had hurt myself. They would not need an MRI to confirm it. Instead I was scheduled for an appointment with the surgeon to discuss different ways of fixing the tendon. That is the sixth sign.

Long story short, once you reach this point in your injury timeline, you have most definitely torn your Achilles tendon. I am sorry that you too must share this unique experience. Do not fear, surgery is not painful and you will most likely wake up from whatever sleep they put you in. You will be unable to walk on your left foot for four weeks, and even then, you’ll have to walk in a boot. If you have low pain tolerance you might be unable to walk in the boot for close to a week before it is comfortable. That puts it at five weeks.

boot
If you have yet to experience or see a boot then here is what one looks like.

With all this sitting time you will be doing you might as well purchase a gaming system, or convince your mother to buy you one. Happy healing!

Unintended Birdies

It would seem, from personal experience, that about everyone I have played a competitive disc golf round with before has made a miracle shot. By miracle shot I mean any throwing position or location that you would only try if someone was making a trick shot compilation backed with a dubstep remix of “24k Magic”. In other words, throws only attempted when imitating the one and only Brodie Smith 21 #darkhorse. Over the past few months of playing these shots tend to happen as often as every other round, and I have yet to accomplish such a feat so it seems all my throwing buddies MUST be practicing them or something.

The following is an account of the top three shots I have seen while playing a round of disc golf, excluding my father’s ace which has its own article:

Number 1

My friend Dane and I were playing a round of 18 and he was not doing well. His putts were not sticking. (That might have been due to the fact I provided the putter, but I didn’t make him use it… just saying.) I was winning by a large margin of strokes and we had reached hole 13. It was a par four and we both used two strokes to get within range of the basket, but there was a large tree between us and it. It wasn’t just your average large tree mind you, it was one of those whose limbs start growing about four feet off the ground and a way out. Going underneath the limbs was not an option and there was not space for a flick or backhand to slide through. Dane opted for a thumber (basically holding the disc vertical) and didn’t think twice about it. Now this is hard to imagine if you were not there but he was staring into the sun and he had never thrown a thumber before IN HIS LIFE. Of course you can assume what happened. He made it for birdie. It just floated around the tree and into the basket, didn’t even touch the chains. I went ahead and double bogeyed, still in disbelief.

daneshole-1
A rough sketch of the hole Dane birdied.

Number 2

In a very similar scenario my buddy Jacob saved par one day with a hammer throw. We were on hole 4 and it was par three. The basket was hidden behind a large mound of dirt, basically a small hill. The small hill also had saplings growing out of the east side of it. The basket is behind that east side. We both used up two strokes getting to the small hill and I am in better position. He is slightly behind the hill and saplings so he cannot see the basket clearly and I am to the southeast of the hill with a direct line to the hole. He says something along the lines of, “Are you ready for this? I’m going with the Tomahawk.” I laugh at him as he lines up his putter (the same putter I lent Dane) between the saplings. That throw of his had no arch, it was a line drive. Straight into the chains. He couldn’t see it so when I cried out in amazement he lifted his hands in the air, clenched in victory. As I recall, we were playing the first round of disc golf IN HIS LIFE. Something about firsts I guess.

jacobshole
One of my favorite holes. If you have enough power you can flick a drive all the way around the back of the hill on the left side and birdie it. 

Number 3

And how can I not include my dad on the list? He seemingly broke the laws of physics, or manipulated them, I can’t decide. It was hole 5 and a par 3. You cannot see the basket from the tee, but there is a tree line about 80 feet ahead of the tee and about 10 feet beyond that a creek. Right after you pass the tree line and before you reach the creek there is a sharp turn right in the fairway. It takes you to a basket directly behind the tree line from the tee. Dad throws off the tee right into the tree line and it bounces back out to the edge. On his next throw he appears to be aiming the tree tops and is holding his disc vertical. See a pattern? I walk around to the other side of the trees so I can track his disc for him when he misses, because why shouldn’t he miss this? And up the disc goes, over the trees it seems, and back down it comes landing in the basket. I don’t know what disc he used but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same Gator with which he tossed his ace.

dadshole.jpg
Such a weird hole. I have lost and re-found two discs in this tree line and creek. 

When I play disc golf I play for a good score and mostly to win. Dane does not play this way because once he misses his first six putts he loses hope. Jacob was still figuring out how the discs flew because he had never played before, and my dad just does crazy shots whenever he gets the chance.

So, what can we learn from such situations? I have pondered all of these memories and have come to a conclusion. In all three cases my golfing partner has been carefree about the result of the throw. Sort of a what-the-heck-this-won’t-hurt-my-score-more-than-I-already-have point of view. These people did not contemplate the end result they just went for it and now have something to be proud of. So maybe that is something every disc golfer needs to do. Not worry so much about the score all the time. Or maybe it means that we should all start putting with our discs vertically. As you can see, vertical shots lead to birdies.

In addition, I will mention that I was the one who won the whole round in the end. Maybe being carefree is not the answer, maybe it just has to do with whether you doubt yourself or not. Don’t second guess. As much as I ache for an ace or an eye-catching birdie maybe I should just be patient. I’m sure that if I play enough rounds then these pleasures will come my way. All things come to those who wait.

Dad’s Bragging Rights

It happened on the 30th of December. (2016)

holtsace2
Hole 12 at Holts Summit Disc Golf Course.

My mother, father, and I drove down to Holts Summit, MO to play a round of 18. The course is only about fifteen minutes away, maybe twenty, and it was built a little over a year ago. I had read a review on dgcoursereview.com before we headed out to see what the future held. The golfer had commented on how it was a proficient course with good design but how it had a couple of fairways that still needed a few trees removed. I also noticed, in the provided pictures, that it had two water holes of decent length. I was excited to try a new course and the weather was great, so what could possibly happen?

The course is located next to a park. We pulled up and the parking lot was “yuge”, as one might say. It was completely gravel and you probably could have fit a rock concert on it, and I don’t know why it was so large because the only thing at he park that is regularly used is the disc course. There is a newly made baseball field which appears to be untouched and a really nice concrete walking trail… if you’re into walking. Driving to the far end of the parking lot we stopped and got out, searching for the first hole.

I won’t give a full record of the first nine holes, but let us say it was a very bad nine for me, and I won’t use the “it is a new course to me” excuse. I just played bad. From the very first throw. I think the first hole was a par four and I threw a seven: a triple bogie. My father hit it in par, and my mother… well she doesn’t like to keep track of her strokes. Dad played well all morning and it was just a build up for what was to come.

The three of us made it to hole twelve, and by that point dad had acquired a new disc. A red Star Sidewinder if I recollect correctly. It had been partially hidden in the fallen leaves. I was something like +12 and dad was about +3. We approached the hole and it was a pretty one. The ground after the tee sort of dropped off and if you looked across the little valley on the opposite ridge was the basket. I think the sign said 164 feet, something close to that. It was basically a direct shot, and the hole had a tree to the left of it as well as plenty of woods behind it. It was a par three.

holtssummitace
A shot of hole 12 from the basket. Here you can see the slow drop off after the tee and then the ridge upon which the basket sits. Also, notice the Gator in the basket. (Photo by my dad)

I stepped onto the rectangle of concrete and selected my trusty DX Leopard. Going through a few practice swings I aimed in the general direction of the basket. I didn’t know exactly how to get it where I wanted without overthrowing it. Now that I think back I should have thrown a mid-range. I backhanded the disc too hard and it glided over to the other side of the gorge and…. BANG, right into the tree to the basket’s side and off into the wooded area behind.

I knew I had missed my chance, so turning to my dad I said, “This will be your best chance for an ace if you are gonna get one.” Little did I know. He grabbed his Star Gator and lined up on the tee pad. No priming necessary, he just went for it. Let the Gator fly forehand and it was magic! It was one of those moments you can sense before it happens. The disc drifted left and hooked back right, clinking off the middle post and the chains, then settling in the basket.

I wish I had a video. It was the flattest throw I’ve ever seen Dad have. When it went in he threw his hands up in the air and looked back at mom and I with a grin that he gets when he can’t believe something just happened. I was jealous and I let on that I was. I feel as if, out of the two of us, I should be the first to get an ace because I have been playing the longest. It didn’t seem fair to me. Only a week before I had an almost ace at Albert Oakland Park in Columbia, MO. It was also with my Leopard, and dad was witness to it. I guess some people have that touch.

Since then Dad and I have spent the past few weeks debating whether mom and I need to sign the Gator as proof of the ace. Many disc golfers make a habit of requiring signatures on aces from the witnesses who were there. In this way they are able to tell stories to other disc golfers and remember their moment of glory. This would typically be done with permanent marker. Dad and I are amateur enough that we do not traverse courses with markers in our bags. As for signing Dad’s Gator, I think we should because it is the first ace any of us have witnessed and I don’t feel as if dad will have many more. We should take the opportunity we have been given. In opposition, Dad does not want to “ink up” his disc with signatures. His argument would be valid if I thought he was going to trade the disc back in at any point, but I know he won’t. He will hold on to that disc forever until one of his grandkids gets it. Although, without our signatures how will they ever know what a special disc it is?

Also, my signature might be worth something in the distant future. Ha.

In My Bag, with Hugh Keene: Winter 2017 Edition

Hello fellow disc golfers,

and welcome to my first installment of “In The Bag”. I am not a big name in disc golf –actually not a name at all– although I someday hope to be. I do wish that, for beginning golfers, by reading this article you may see an example of a beginning to intermediate level bag. I would like to inform you on my selection of discs and maybe give you some food for thought about your own bags that you have either started or are thinking about starting.

Many “In The Bag” features you read in your search for disc golf knowledge tend to open by talking about putters. This is the most logical way to begin as putting is the foundation of the game. If you do not have a putter that feels good to you and is consistent then you are losing the majority of the confidence it takes to be a good putter. Bags should be built around putters in my opinion, but this mostly because making the chains clink is what gives me the most joy.

Putters

I have five putters, the most used two are my XT Nova’s.

My go-to putter is my purple and red XT Nova. I purchased it used from Show Me Disc Sports, and soon after realized I needed a complementary one in my bag. One reason I prefer it is because it weighs in at 172 grams. I like heavy putters since it seems to me that the heavier ones tend to hold the line you put them on more. Also the heavier discs sit down in the basket instead of jumping out, which is a problem at the beginning level. I only throw this disc backhand.

My next XT Nova is green with a pink rim, and it resembles a full slice of watermelon. It was a birthday present from my father, and it is special to me because it has been signed by George R. Smith #4034, one of the Innova Disc Golf Masters. He also owns Show Me Disc Sports in Columbia, MO. This disc weighs in at 175 grams and I only use it backhand as well.

In my bag I also have two DX Aviar P&A’s. I use my purple one for approach putts and only use my white one for practice. These do not reliably stay in the chains or basket when I putt with them, so that’s why I don’t pull them out very often. The purple one was my first putter I ever had, as it came from the starter pack that got me into the sport. It weighs 150 grams and I only toss it backhand. My white one is so worn down that I don’t have an exact weight for it, but from holding it I’d estimate it around 165 grams. It only gets thrown backhand as well.

My last putter is only for putting practice. It is a DX Classic Aviar. It feels nice but I would need more practice reps with it for it to become a large part of my bag. It is 172 grams and only thrown backhand.

hughsdiscs

Mid-Range

And so, onto mid-ranges I suppose.

My first mid-range is an 11x KC Pro Roc, Multipurpose. I don’t know how common it is to find one of these discs but I feel fortunate to have one because now all I can order online is KC Roc’s without the “Multipurpose” on the end. It is 176 grams and I bought it after it was well used. When I first started playing I was using this disc as my putter because I couldn’t get my DX P&A to stick in the holes. I throw it backhand and it holds it line well. I was so impressed I went online and bought another.

A 12x KC Pro Roc, Mid-Range was my next mid-range. I use it the most out of all my mid-range selection, preferring it for short straight shots and longer approaches. It is 175 grams and I throw it both backhand and forehand. It has a special type of skid at the end of its flights that I like. It is getting beat in so I will need to buy another Roc here pretty soon. I prefer my Roc’s in KC plastic because Ken Climo is THE CHAMP, but also because it feels nice on my hands.

Next I have a Champion Panther Multipurpose Disc. It is pre-flight-ratings which is sort of cool. It flies well and does not beat in, thanks to the champion plastic. I throw it majority backhand but also forehand when necessary. It’s 167 grams and I opt for it when I’m approaching through the woods and don’t want to bang up my Roc too bad.

Lastly for mid-range, I have a DX Shark. It is one of my throw away discs if I have a water shot I doubt I can clear. It is always good to have a disc you are willing to sacrifice from your bag. It weighs 150 grams and I throw it backhand. It is so light that any attempt to throw it forehand would turn it over and off course.

mids

Fairway Drivers

Next is fairway drivers. I have three, although I could always use another I suppose. All three are Leopards, one is an Echostar and the other two are DX.

My two DX Leopards are both white and one is really beat in so I throw it when I need a straight shot with a bunch of turnover at the end. My newer one still turns over at the end but not as much. I’ve never had an ace in my playing experience but I have had multiple close calls with my Leopards. They are so easy to place where you want them, and everyone can throw them, or else why would they be in all of Innova’s starter packs. I love how predictable they are and how they are a low enough speed it doesn’t take enormous amounts of effort to throw them straight. I’ll be buying another one soon to replace my original Leopard and I can’t wait to try it out. My beat in Leopard is 150 grams and my newer one is 175 grams. They both perform well either forehand or backhand.

My Echostar Leopard is just as efficient and I use it quite a bit, but most often on windy days. It tends to hold its line in the wind better than my DX’s. It’s a great disc, and I am not an outstanding fan of the Echostar plastic but it is not uncomfortable but any means. It is 175 grams, yellow, and I throw it both ways.

fairway

Distance Drivers

Lastly we have to discuss distance drivers. This is a touchy section because I am still developing my long distance throwing ability so I will not be as knowledgeable about these discs as others.

My most used right now is a Blizzard Champion Destroyer. It does not have a weight as I also bought it used, but I would say around 165 grams. It is my lightest distance driver, at least it feels that way. I can whip this destroyer forehand and I have surprised myself with overthrowing and turning it over before. It gets great distance and it is so pretty when it flies. I rarely throw it backhand. Side note: This is the only disc which I have had tombstone on me.

Next up is a Pro Destroyer. My father found it and I traded him a Discraft Avenger for it. I got the better side of the trade, but he is a non-Innova person and I’m and only-Innova person. It is 171 grams and feels hefty. I only throw it forehand and it goes where I want it to. The only issue I have with this disc is that it is colored dark blue with a tie dyed rim that is tan and blue, so it blends in with any dark woods and any dry grass. I can understand why it was lost in the first place.

I have a tournament stamped Glow Champion Destroyer. It weighs in at 168 grams, and it is wayyyyy over stable. I don’t know what makes it so much more stable than my other Destroyers. I use it for shots I NEED to curve hard. It is good in the wind and, unlike my other discs, when it bumps on the ground it makes a strange hop on its edge and slightly rolls before settling so I have to be careful about surrounding hazards when driving with it. I throw this forehand.

Just a few days ago my father bought me a Star Destroyer because he knew I had been looking for one. It is used so the original design has been worn off so the disc is mostly bright pink. It is 168 grams and feels good in the hand. Alas, I have not been able to throw it since I received it because of the weather here and an unfortunate physical ailment I acquired on New Year’s Day. I assume once I do get to toss it I will do so forehand.

I have a blue Champion Firebird in my bag, and it doesn’t get used very often, because I haven’t had much practice with it. I purchased it so I would have a distance driver with minimal glide, but once I used it a few times it really liked to bite the ground and it has large bounces when the edge makes contact with the earth. I need to polish my game with this disc and see what situations I might need it for in the future. It is 175 grams and I throw it forehand.

My last disc in my bag is my clear-ish Champion Beast which I found during a local round in the woods. It acts in the same role as my Shark, it is a throw away disc mainly for water or creek shots. I throw it both forehand and backhand, although I soon intend on trading it in for something else, maybe my next Leopard.

betterdistanve

Falling putts can lower your score

School of Disc Golf

Disc golfer’s familiar with the rules of the sport recognize the term ‘falling putt’ as an infraction that occurs when the disc is within 10 meters of the target. The rules (see 803.04 C) clearly state that a player – when inside this ‘putting circle,’ must demonstrate full balance after releasing the disc before advancing to retrieve his or her disc. This is to ensure players cannot gain an advantage by shortening the distance their disc has to travel. If this rule were not in place, putting would turn into a Frisbee-long jump hybrid, with players taking 10 paces backward to get a running start before leaping toward the target. I can easily imagine some nasty accidents as well, with ‘slam dunk’ attempts going horribly awry. Luckily the 10-meter rule prevents gruesome player/basket collisions while at the same time preserving the purity of the flying disc aspect of disc golf…

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