In a continuing effort to demonstrate the similarities of Disc Golf and Ball Golf, I have reviewed Dave Pelz’s Putting Games. In this article I interpret and adapt the putting games he suggests for ball golfers for the Disc Golfer.
Just like there are many things we can take from the financial and social success of ball golf, there are many things we can take from ball golf practice techniques. There are thousands of ball golf books and billions of dollars spent on the examination of ball golf technique. There is enormous information and assistance we can glean from the mountains of research into the improvement of ball golfers.
While much of this book is not useful in a specific sense because the large differences in physical execution of the two games, there is much thematically or philosophically to be gained by using Pelz’s strategies. Most importantly, Pelz suggests that you have a marathon putting session where you identify weakness, set benchmarks, and then set goals. I’ve heard disc golfers say putting for more than half an hour is counter-productive. I can putt longer but always stop when I start loosing focus and find myself putting way to fast.
Translation of terms. Outside of putt and lay-up there are not very many specific similarities in the lingo of Disc Golf and Ball Golf. There are however one to one correspondences in the goals, obstacles, and strategies employed in the book that work well with disc golf. These distances are current for my needs but can be scaled up or down depending on what you determine to be a weakness:
- 3′ putts equivalent to 20 feet putts
- 6′ putts equivalent to 10 meter putts
- 10′-20′ putts equivalent to +50 feet putt/approach
- Breaking putts equivalent to windy putts
There are a few things that are harder to translate but can be integrated into many of the games Pelz suggests:
- Big Hyzer or AnHyzer putts
- Obstacle Avoidance
- Extreme high or low targets
Pelz’s Games adapted for Disc Golf. There are three main games that translate very well to disc golf. Each game can utilize objects to create Hyzer or AnHyzer putts and, unless you are indoors, will integrate wind. I have a 10 meter rope with marks at 5′ intervals but you can always count off steps – just be consistent. I also use both orange cones and minis depending on my location. I use 10 putters for my practice, all Voodoos or Warlocks, because that is what I putt with in events.
The Make-able Putt Game. In this game you will need up to 12 minis or cones. The more you have the patience to set up, the more practice you get. Choose 3 distances – the shortest distance you feel challenged by, a distance you make 75% of your putts, and a distance you make 30% of your putts. Right now, for me, those distances are 20′, 25′, and 10 meters. Note the wind direction and place 3 of your minis in a direct head wind at the chosen distances. Next place three in a direct tailwind. Finally, place the last six minis in between at any chosen angle. If you identify that you struggle with putts with the wind right to left, situate the markers to make you practice those putts.
Pelz suggests taking two putts from each marker and then moving to keep the mind sharp and flexible. Count your makes and find out what your averages are. Write them down; I can’t focus on making a putt if I am counting in my head each time. I was surprised how low my averages outside the circle were. I was equally surprised how quickly those averages started to climb after practicing this game.
The 20′ Putt Game. This game started as the 20′ game but has since grown for me to the 25′ or 30′ game. The game can be played from whatever distance you need to improve. This time place your 12 markers at your specified distance from the basket at each hour point on a clock with the 12 o’clock point being into any head wind and the 6 o’clock with the tailwind. Take two putts from each point and calculate your percentages.
This game forces you to play the wind – or break of the green in ball golf terms – from every possible angle. This is also the easiest game to integrate obstacles for Hyzer and AnHyzer Putts. Don’t be afraid to play this game a couple times at multiple distances.
The 3-Putt Avoidance Game. Do you hate to 3-Putt from a 100′ putt/approach like I do? This game will help you correct the tendencies you have that put you in the position to 3-putt off a very make-able approach. Mark off whatever approach distance gives you the most trouble. Right now that is about 100′ for me because it seems like I should be able to spin a disc at the basket and give it a strong run. I frequently leave these approaches long or wide right as I try to power spin a putter at the basket.
From your chosen distance, throw your bag of putters at the basket. Then from each lie, mark off an extra 10′ away from the target and make your putt. Because the lies are all different, you can’t really use the percentage scoring system. Instead, count the number of 3-putts and watch your score decrease during competition rounds. I was stunned how easy most of my leaves seemed when I didn’t have to add an additional 10′ to my putt.
Other Variations and Games. There are several variations that you can include to practice the high Hyzer Putt around a tree, or to prepare for a particularly tricky course, or just for variety. Place your practice target next to a tree or behind a bush. Place it on a picnic table or stand on the picnic table. Practice on a hill or slope. Practicing in a parking lot causes the putts to slide much further but putting on the grass catches errant putts better. Change whatever you need to improve weak parts of your putting game.
Pelz uses other games for ball golfers that would be harder to incorporate into Disc Golf like the Lag Putt Game. Pelz created a scoring map for where he leaves the putt – certain number of points within a given range, a lesser number of points for landing outside that range or for coming up short to the hole. A similar game for Disc Golf would require more interpretation in scoring – a good putt that just missed could be 25′ away where as a bad putt that hit the tray could be right there.
Adapt these games for whatever you need. Score how you want. Use a clipboard, or marbles, or beads on a rope to score. Most importantly, have fun. I listen to music and take each putt by itself. I can get carried away putting too fast and it undermines the value of the practice. I prevent this by placing my stack of putters at least one step from my marker so I have to re-set for each putt. Track your progress. Compete with your friends. Make it a game. Watch your scores drop.