Tips and Tricks to Playing at Elevation
One of the coolest things about disc golf is how the flight characteristics of your disc changes as the elevation changes. This facet of disc golf adds an element of challenge to the game that few other sports have. There are many tricks that can help you adapt to this change in flight characteristics that you might find useful during your next trip to the Tahoe disc golf courses.
Driving from the tee and the fairway will be where you can sense the most dramatic difference in flight characteristics. At the Tahoe courses, you will quickly see that your drivers are far more stable than when you are at your home course closer to sea level. There are a couple ways to combat this shift in stability on your drives.
First, you can disc down to a more under-stable disc. If you frequently throw a Destroyer (-1,3) at sea level you might decide to throw a Tern (-2,2) instead. The lower turn will keep your disc straighter and the lower fade will keep the disc dropping to the ground more like you are accustomed. Second, you can throw the same disc but reduce the weight of the disc. The lower weight will allow you to spin the disc faster which will keep the disc closer to its fade and turn numbers.
The third option is the one I prefer; I don’t switch out a lot of discs in my bag. I will replace a Firebird with a FL – Firebird long. Other than that, I keep with the same disc types but pull my beat discs out of storage to replace my existing discs. This accomplishes most of what disc-ing down accomplishes because the beat discs are already flippier than their newer counter-parts. It also lowers the weight slightly as they have lost a few grams to wear. Finally, it preserves my current disc’s flight characteristics. I throw almost exclusively Star plastic because I like the way the discs wear out. This allows me to carry discs at multiple states of wear which fills niches in my driving strategy. If you throw some of the softer plastics like I do, your current bag selection will not throw the same after a long weekend of serious Tahoe disc golfing. So pull out some of your old plastic or pick up a couple more under-stable options at Tahoe Mountain Sports.
Changes in your short game are the trickier adjustments to make. It’s easy to see the way your disc flies differently over 300+ feet. Short approaches and putts that you make with straight mid-ranges and putters react very differently in the elevation than your drivers do. The nature of mids and putters is that the discs do not fade very hard so you don’t have to make that adjustment. What these discs do, however, is drop to the ground a lot faster than you are accustomed; disc changes don’t combat this difference very well. An older Roc is not going to stay in the air any longer than a newer one, though a far lighter Roc might. Driving adjustments are usually best made with equipment but putting adjustments should be made with technique.
I frequently find myself over-correcting in my short game, waiting for the disc to bite to the left faster the way my drives do. Instead, they sail past my target or landing zone on the right, sometimes leaving me with the same or worse come-back putt. Instead, I need to keep the same line I would normally have chosen but pick a link or two higher on the basket or increase the nose angle of my approach. This can sometimes be the harder adjustment to make.
Fitness and Gear:
The Tahoe area has many quality disc golf courses to choose from but before you go there are some basic fitness goals you should have in mind before you play. The Tahoe courses are all in the high desert. Flight characteristics are not the only differences you should keep in mind. The conditions are most frequently very dry and the winds can be quite active. These factors will combine to dehydrate you faster than you may be accustomed at your home course. The thinner air will also get you winded faster than normal.
Fitness is always important but it is best to keep hydrated throughout your round. I usually bring as much water as I can carry. Try to drink a little water in between each hole rather than fill up a couple times a round. Maintaining hydration will keep your throws strong and consistent. You should prepare for a higher cardio-vascular requirement; that preparation will keep your game consistent so you can hike up and down the many elevation changes that make the Tahoe courses so excellent.
While you may bring towels on your rounds at your home course they serve a different purpose in Tahoe and you might need more than you think. It can be very dusty in the high desert; there are brooms on every tee pad at Bijou. Your discs will need constant wiping. I also keep one disc damp because it is so dry that you might need some moisture to get your disc as grippy as you like it. I also always have a 3rd towel or handkerchief, keep it wet, and drape over my head and neck. It can really help keep you cool. Pack some sun screen and maybe even some high socks or gators to protect your legs from brambles and keep stones out of your shoes. Prepare properly and there is a good time to be had for all in the high elevation disc golf courses of the Tahoe area.