Putting Practice: Month 5

For 2022 I set a goal of achieving 70% putting from 25 feet. That seems attainable enough, and if I go higher than that, well, all the better.

I’m reworking my putting style. There are a few reasons for that.

First, one of my disc golf pro favorites, Scott Stokely, recently decided that he needed to take a few weeks off the Tour to work on a new putting style. Heck, if he can do that, why am I married to the way I do things?

Also, I’ve been impressed with Catrina Allen’s improved putting this year, so I decided to watch how she does it. I discovered that she throws a hyzer putt that enters the basket at around a 30- to 40-degree angle. Hmmmm…

Finally, I noticed that in general I am not putting in a standard way.

I wondered why I had so much problem with power for longer putts, and the answer is that I am standing with my front foot exactly perpendicular to the target, and bringing my disc back to my middle. The good male putters I watched — Catrina Allen does not do it this way — stand with the front foot closed to the target and they bring the disc to the side of their bodies.

Oh, wait, I also rememberd something I saw in a video I watched when I first started playing disc golf. At least I think what I saw was that my elbow and wrist should be pretty still during putting, and I should use my shoulder as the only hinge.

All those changes felt good to me right from the word go. I’m still not able to execute them properly every time, but when I do, I can feel it, and it feels right.

Speaking of not being able to execute properly, my pushoff with my back foot is off. I think it’s a timing thing, but I can finally feel a difference between what I do and what I want to do.

I want to push off my back foot when I putt, especially from farther away. What I do, though, feels more like pulling up with my front foot, and if that’s not a recipe for a power outage, I don’t know what is.

That piece of the puzzle is still in development, because, even though I know it was there, I only felt it today for the first time.

Forehand Putting

On a side note, let me tell you about another thing I’ve discovered works well for me: forehand putting.

I’ve been putting forehand around obstacles, mostly trees, for a while now, and it has always felt pretty good.

From 40 to 50 feet, I’ve found that I can make 20% of my putts using forehand style with my Yeti Pro Aviars. And, more importantly, when I miss, the disc is not going too far by the basket.

Is 20% from 40 to 50 feet good? It is for me! And with more practice, it can only get better, right?

In addition, I’ve found that forehand putting is great in the wind. I can more easily adjust the angle of the disc to account for the wind’s direction.

Jon, my practice partner in San Antonio, has said before that maybe forehand putting should be my go-to. I’m starting to believe him!

Anyway, onward to this month’s exciting recap of my Putting Challenge. And it was, indeed, a very exciting round!

May 2022 Putting Challenge

I didn’t do my usual warmup game this month before heading into the money round. Working on the new style, I felt more comfortable simply diving right in after about a half-hour of putting practice.

And I started out hot! 5 of 5!

Of course, I only made 3 of the next 5. Regression to the mean. But I stayed very hot, and had made 31 through seven rounds. That is almost 89%! I was on my way to my by far best round ever!

And then…

Off to my right, someone started moving, walking toward me. I should have stepped away, but I didn’t. I missed the first putt with them in my peripheral vision, and made the second. Then they were too close, so I decided to wait.

The person walked a straight line, crossing directly behind my basket. I waited until they were 30 feet past, and threw my next three discs.

I missed them all. That put me at 32 made for eight rounds. Still an average of 4 out of 5, 80%. Still on record pace.

Round 9, time to buckle down… I made two putts.

Round 10? I made two putts.

What the hell? Am I that easily distracted that a person who two minutes ago walked through my target area would get in my head, put me off my game so much, that I’d fall apart?

Apparently so. Well, that’s disc golf.

While I am very disappointed with my meltdown, on the positive side I matched my previous record of 72% from 21 feet. I am working on a new style, and my entry level score with that style is the same as my previous best. That’s great!

Running tally:

  • January: 44% from 21 feet
  • February: 68% from 21 feet
  • March: 72% from 21 feet
  • April: 64% from 21 feet
  • May: 72% from 21 feet

Putting Practice: Month 4

For 2022 I set a goal of achieving 70% putting from 25 feet. That seems attainable enough, and if I go higher than that, well, all the better..

I’m about to give up on my resolve here. I am not practicing anywhere near as much as I’d hoped to. Why?

I don’t think it’s laziness. I’m still playing a lot, so I’m getting out there, and almost all that playing is working on other parts of my game and practicing on the courses I’ll be playing sanctioned rounds in on the weekend, whether in league or a tournament.

I’m working heavily on my disc golf game, but not directly on my putting. Having said that, I’ll also say that my putting in competitive rounds has seemed noticeably better.

Let me run down the numbers for my April Challenge, though, before I go any further.

tl;dr: In April I made 32 out of 50 putts for a score of 64%, the worst since January.

But there’s more to the story.

I went to my usual putting basket at Trinity University for this month’s scored round. It didn’t start well.

I only made 2 of 5 of the first group of putters I threw when I got there. From 15 feet.

I get it, I’m coming in cold. No warmup of any kind. But … only 2 of the first 5 from 15 feet? That scared me. Had I lost it all?

I knew that wasn’t true. I’d made some big pressure putts that last few rounds.

One big putt was to save my bag tag, a 35-footer, dead center, on the last hole. The guy I was playing against was so shaken that he missed the 12-footer I’d assumed he’d make. C’est la guerre.

I also made a 55-footer on the last hole of a doubles match to take the victory.

Am I saying my putting is great now? Not at all. But I am saying that I wouldn’t have made either of those putts a year ago, so I know I’m getting better.

Sidenote: I’ve always thought of myself as a choker in sports. Even as an accomplished bowler back in the day, I still felt too many twinges of doubt in pressure situations.

Once in softball, I completely fell apart in a very tight situation that cost us the championship game. Nobody said it, and I’m probably taking on more blame than I deserve, but I labeled myself “choker”.

Anyway, I say all that to say this: I don’t feel a lot of nerves when I’m playing disc golf, even in pressure-filled matches. I’m not totally cool, calm, and collected, but I’m feeling a whole lot less like a choker and more like a winner, or, better yet, as a player who doesn’t beat himself.

So when I walk up to a 15-foot putt with five putters, I expect to make all five of the putts! (Or at least 4 of them.)

Sadly, it took a little while for me to get comfortable with the 15-footers again. In fact, early on, I was hitting the 21-foot putts more often than the 15-footers. Maybe I was taking them for granted.

After a warmup of about 150 putts, I felt better. Not great, but the weather seemed to be leaning toward stormy, so I wanted to get the scoring round done.

Yada yada yada … I made only 11 of my first 25 putts from 21 feet. 44%! That was my baseline score in January! What?

I stopped. Took a break. Breathed. Walked around. I didn’t practice putting, as that would have been cheating, but I thought long and hard about how I could possibly manage to recover from that terrible first half.

Finally, I was ready. I stepped up to the 21-foot line and … BANG! The first one flew right into the heart of the basket. I missed the next shot and ended up with only 3 of those 5, but that was an improvement. That would bring my score up.

I stopped again. Focused.

Round 7 = 5 of 5. YES!

Round 8 = 4 of 5!

Round 9 = 4 of 5!

Round 10 = 5 of 5!

Wow! What a comeback!

That was 18 of my last 20 putts making a total of 32 of 50 for a score 64%.

So, yeah, 64% … not so hot. But the way I got there was very encouraging. When the chips were down, I was able to focus and nail the putts.

That was all good, but now I have to throw something new into the mix. Ricky Wysocki recently made a putting video with 5 tips to get better.

I don’t remember what all the tips are. You can watch it yourself below to find out. But what stands out to me is his weight shift.

I’ve been experimenting with weight shift while putting. I know I need it to get more power. But I’d never tried leaning all the way back, getting almost all my weight on my back leg, the way Ricky talks about in that video.

I’ve tried that weight shift now, both casually and in sanctioned play, and, while I need to work on timing, I can feel the difference. It’s night and day. I feel much more powerful and confident.

So in addition to adding more accuracy with my putting practice, I’m also going to add power with a big weight shift.

As one of my favorite players, Paul Ulibarri, would say: “Let’s see how it plays out.”

Running tally:

  • January: 44% from 21 feet
  • February: 68% from 21 feet
  • March: 72% from 21 feet
  • April: 64% from 21 feet

Putting Practice: Month 3

For 2022 I set a goal of achieving 70% putting from 25 feet. That seems attainable enough, and if I go higher than that, well, all the better..

I’m working my way toward that goal by practicing regularly. Perhaps not regularly enough. I’m not throwing 1000 or 2000 putts a day. That would be great. But it’s not happening.

Now that I have my own basket, though, it’ll happen more often!

At the end of May I’m hitting the road with my partner, F├ílki, for a prolonged journey. We will be living in our Aliner A-frame trailer and traveling all around the United States.

With that in mind, then, I bought a DGA Mach Lite Portable Disc Golf Basket.

Continue reading “Putting Practice: Month 3”

Putting Practice – Month 2

If you read my post last month about disc golf goals for 2022, you may remember that I set this goal:

  • 70% putting from 25 feet

I’m working my way toward that goal by practicing. Simply practicing.

I’m not going to lie: when the weather is bad, I’m not going out. When I first started playing a couple years ago, I was out in all kinds of weather, but I’m over that now. While I am fortunate to live in South Texas, and was, in fact, out playing today, February 14, 2022, in beautiful, sunny 65-degree weather, there were a lot of days during the past few weeks that were too cold or rainy for me.

So I didn’t practice as much as I wanted to.

Continue reading “Putting Practice – Month 2”

Disc Golf Goals for 2022

I’ve been playing disc golf for right at two years now. While I am happy with my progress so far, and while I win my MA60 age-protected division somewhat often, I still need a lot of work on my game.

As we began 2022, I saw a lot of posts on social media about disc golf goals. Most of the goals I’ve seen from other people are about improving their PDGA rating, throwing longer off the tee, getting more aces.

A chase for aces does not make sense for the way I want to play disc golf. Ace runs for me most often do not lead to easy birdies. My goal on an ace-runnable hole is an easy birdie.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, as I golf more with good players, is that they are invariably better putters than I am.

Continue reading “Disc Golf Goals for 2022”