Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sudoku Showdown II at SeaTac DGC

Disc golf tournaments mess with my mind. The days leading up to an event are filled with mental preparation and practice on the course. I tell myself things like, "just relax," "play like it is any other day," "have fun," "kick the course's grassy ass." 

I run through this routine because in my first tournament I found out that I either suffer from performance anxiety or that I simply suck at playing disc golf. So, each time I enter a tournament I'm out to prove to myself that I can overcome my mental issues and also to prove to myself that I don't suck at throwing things in the air. 

I have yet to accomplish either of those things.

On June 30 a free PDGA sanctioned tournament was held at SeaTac DGC. It was a fundraising tourney called the Sudoku Showdown where everyone was forced to play with discs weighing 159.9 grams or less. All I had to do was show up, make a donation if I felt like it and write a short pledge about something positive I will contribute to disc golf this year.

I've only played SeaTac a few times. It's not an easy course, but I figured I might be able to bump my player rating up a bit from a stagnant 901.

I had been throwing four light weight discs for about a week or so in the hopes I would get used to them. I bagged a Blizzard Destroyer, 150 DX Teebird, 150 Aviar and a 150 R-Pro Roc. At the tournament I bought a Blizzard Wraith.

When tourney day arrived I felt confident and the plan was to show up bright and early with an attitude fitting of a disc golfer that expects to win, which was something new for me. I usually show up to a tournament with the attitude fitting of someone about to take a hike in the woods hoping not to be mauled by a bear or a giant kitty cat... or a pack of drunken transients.

Check in was planned for 9 a.m. and I was standing on hole one a little after 8 a.m. After stretching out I decided to play the holes leading up to tourney central, which was located near holes eight and nine.

My first drive came out fast and on a perfect line for the trees off to the right of the fairway. I shrugged it off and remembered I was having problems with these discs ripping out later. I just needed to adjust. My second drive hit the same spot. "Not a problem," I said to myself. Nobody was around so I just ran out and grabbed the discs and came back to try again.

After my next drive went straight into the ground I got pissed. "Why is this happening," I silently screamed. I clutched the second disc and hurled it with passion. The flight was actually looking good until the disc hit a tree and bounced right into some tall grass and out of sight.

I spent the next 15 minutes looking for a lost disc.

Here we go again I thought. New tourney same unconfident play. I found the disc and continued to play on with some horrible outcomes. Deeper in to the course I realized there were mosquitos out to feed. I wasn't prepared for this and I spent a lot of practice time setting up for a shot, smacking my leg, setting up, smacking my arm, setting up, throwing and then smacking my leg again. By the time I arrived at tourney central I was an itchy guy taking a hike in the woods hoping not to get mauled by a bear, a giant kitty cat... or a pack of drunk transients.

When the first round began I felt a bit of confidence build up. I figured there was a chance I worked out all the bad play during my practice and I lucked out with a great group of disc golfers. One of them even offered to share their skeeter spray. Unfortunately, reality hit three holes in when I was sitting six over par and bleeding from my knee.

I drove home later that day thankful that I had met some cool local players, but a little depressed that I couldn't get my game together. I didn't place last, but that's not what I really cared about. I went in thinking this would be a quick way to raise my player rating, but instead it will probably drop it.

I couldn't wait to get those light discs out of my bag. Now everything is back to normal and I'm back at it practicing my mental game and my drives. One day I'll hit that 400 mark and one day I'll actually play a tournament like someone that knows how to.

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Day, Five New Courses – Part Two

I accidentally turned down the correct street and pulled up to N.A.D. disc golf course. The GPS on my iPhone was the tool getting me around town and I was unsure as to whether or not I had the right street, so in a last minute effort I made an erratic right turn. I figured I was wrong and pulled in to a small dirt parking lot to turn around. Then I saw it. How I didn't notice it right away, I don't know.

N.A.D., which stands for Naval Ammunitions Depot, has a plane parked on the grass near the disc golf information kiosk. I recognized it from pictures I've seen online, so I knew I was in the right place. Instead of turning around in the parking lot I just parked.

The kiosk had a great deal of information, maybe the most I've ever seen on one. I stood there for a minute to read, then I looked around and absorbed my surroundings. The park is beautiful with huge mossy trees. Folks were scarce and cars were driving by intermittenly, so it was easy to hear the sounds of nature.

I found hole one easily with the help of a little yellow sign made of wood. Rob hadn't arrived yet, so I sat and studied the fairway. I had decided three times which disc I was going to throw by the time Rob walked up. I went with a Buzzz for the slow right fade.

N.A.D. allows you the opportunity to play from AM tees and PRO tees. Rob and I played from the AM (or red) tees and I had a great time. I was throwing extremely better than I was at Dalaiwood. The grounds here are beautiful. After each throw I would take a little time to look around and enjoy the scenery. After our round we decided to play from the PRO tees, but noticed a bunch of people piling up on hole one, so we left for Bud Pell at Ross Farms.

I felt so lucky to have met Rob at Dalaiwood. I thought for sure this was going to be a solo trip, but instead I had met someone willing to guide me through all the courses I wanted to play. I followed him to Bud Pell and as I pulled on to the property I couldn't help but laugh.

This place looked like a haven for activities. On one side there was a miniature golf course and just beyond that was a driving range packed full with golfers. The disc golf course occupied the other side of the property, but dropped somewhere in the middle of the property sat a wooded area designated for paint ball.

I immediately fell in love with this place. The course didn't disappoint either. We had the opportunity to play from AM and PRO tees again and we opted for AM since it was my first time. I can't wait to go back though. I believe it was hole three that had 1000 feet separating the PRO tee from the basket.

My game was OK here. Fatigue was setting in. After the round Rob had to start the drive home, which was somewhere near Tacoma. I began thinking about beer and Pagliacci pizza, but decided to hit up one more course. I drove to Kitsap Fairgrounds, stood on hole one and contemplated whether or not I should attempt this last course for the day.

The first hole was a long right turn and proved to be too enticing to skip, so I dug deep, found some energy and threw hard. When I saw my yellow Champion Mamba flip up and start gliding right perfectly down the fairway I knew I had it in me to accomplish my goal of five new courses in one day.

The day light was beginning to diminish and skeeters were coming out to feed. When I caught up to a group of three kids smoking pot and chucking their way through the forest I decided to call it quits. They didn't let me pass them on hole six, so after I watched each of them throw two to three discs each I patiently waited for them to putt out and then stood on the tee. I decided I wasn't willing to follow these guys for 12 more holes, so I called it quits. I took my par and made my way through the trees back to my truck.

It was time for a beer.

I made it back to the ferry just in time for the boat to close up and drift away. I drove the last automobile on. I believe it was around 7:00 p.m. The ride home was peaceful. I sat in a booth and stared out on to the Puget Sound reliving the beautiful day in my mind.

I love that this part of the world is my new home.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One Day, Five New Courses – Part One

At this time last week I was throwing discs around at Van Zee DGC in Port Orchard. This peaceful nine-hole park was the first on my list of six courses I wanted to play throughout the day.

My wife had left to visit her mother down in California and since grandmothers can turn animalistic if they don't see their grandchildren she brought our daughter along for the ride. They were to arrive home Sunday morning and I had to work everyday of the week, so Saturday was my only day for a solo adventure.

I've been wanting to play these West Sound courses for a while now, so I decided to roll myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. I quickly grabbed my gear and walked out into the crisp, cool morning air.

I had never driven on to the ferry here in Edmonds, so I thought it wise to arrive early to insure my place on the 7:10 a.m. boat. When I pulled up to the pay station around 6 a.m. the attendant asked if I was aware the boat wouldn't be leaving for another hour. I shook my head yes and explained that I wanted to beat the crowds. She playfully congratulated me on my overwhelming success and sent me on my way.

The journey across the Sound was peaceful. I had never been on a ferry by myself, so I just walked around a bit. I found my way up to the first level. The roof of the boat. The sky was gray with hints of sunlight bleeding through. The water was on the move, calmly swirling in all directions. I had to turn my face away from the cold wind because my eyes started to tear up.

Van Zee was roughly a 30 mile drive south. I decided to start at the southern end of my disc golf course list and work my way back north to Kingston where I could board another ferry and head home. Van Zee wasn't actually the furthest course south, but I read it was a little nine-hole spread so I figured I would warm up there before heading a bit further south to play Dalaiwood in Olalla.

Rain was falling hard when I pulled in to the tiny parking lot at Van Zee. There was no way rain would stop me from throwing, because I'm a Washingtonian now – plus I just spent $33 on a round-trip ferry ticket. So I stretched out and then went on the hunt for tee pad number one.

I found my way around the course easily and also discovered that the course had long tees for each hole, so you could get in 18 holes if you desired. I didn't. Van Zee had a little bit of everything. All the holes were short, but there were wooded, elevated and wide open fairways. The design mostly calls for midrange and putters off the tee, but there were a few holes that made me pull out a driver. I don't think I would want to play this course while it is crowded with park goers, but I would definitely hit this course up in the early mornings if I lived close by.

I didn't want to play the long tees, because I wanted to give myself enough time to play the big courses coming up like Dalaiwood.

I had been to Dalaiwood before, but it was for the 2011 Ace Race, so I didn't get to play the actual course. Dalaiwood is a private piece of land owned by Discraft pro Scott Papa. When I pulled up I noticed one other golfer walking up the driveway toward the house. It had stopped raining, so I ditched my jacket, grabbed my gear and headed up the driveway too.

I ended up playing the entire round with the only other person on the course. Rob was nice enough to act as my guide. Dalaiwood is tough the first time around. I know I can shoot better on that course, but on this day I had my butt handed to me. I was forced to use my entire arsenal of shots. I even had to drive off a couple tees with a forehand. I never drive with a forehand.

After a round through thick trees, winding fairways and barn yard obstacles Rob and I stopped and chatted with Jeanne in the pro shop. Not only does this family have their own 18 hole course, but they have their own fully stocked store ran out of a garage. Dalaiwood makes you want to play better, but it also makes you want to stay.

Back at Van Zee I had smacked a tree and warped my Pro D Challenger, so I decided I was going to buy a new one here at Dalaiwood. I ended up finding a super-flat white one and I splurged on a yellow Legacy Clutch too. I've been wanting to try those ever since the Rico brothers produced them.

Rob had to run a quick errand, but was willing to meet up with me at the next course on my list. NAD park was only a few minutes away and I was excited. I mapped it out on my phone in my truck, flipped a U-Turn and headed on down the tree-lined road. The sun was glaring through clouds now. This Saturday was turning out better than I had expected.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Asking the Pros: Do you remember reaching 400'?

While sitting around thinking of new material for the blog I began to wonder if the pros had the same goal way back when, or was it like reaching 300' for a lot of us – one day it just happens. There's no real celebration. It just absorbs into our game and helps us card more birds.

I decided I was going to log on to Facebook and throw the question out to as many pros as I could and hope that some of them would respond. The following responses are in the order in which I received them.

"Honestly John it has been so long since I reached that. I cant remember too much about it.... I will say this that just being able to throw that far is nothing without control. You have to learn the precision that it takes to be successful. Good luck with your quest!"

– Nate Doss 

"Honestly I cant remember the disc it was, maybe an eagle. I know i wanted to reach 400 before my 14th birthday. I out-threw Garrett Gurthie in a Distance contest @ am worlds 2002! Post that up! yeah he was like 12 years old... so what! GG bombs. I think I threw it like 407'. This is memorable.. because i don't think i'll out throw GG again!"

– Gregg Barsby

"I have been playing this game for over 26 years and can't remember the day or even how old I was when I broke 400' or what disc I threw. I was not so concerned with how far it was, I just knew that I wanted to throw even further.

This probably took place in my backyard at my parents house in Ohio, I would throw drives all day long crushing them into the back woods behind the house and past the field.

But I can tell you the day that I threw 800'....

All the Best!!"

– Avery Jenkins

Hey John,
 Ya dude that's an awesome topic. It really is a milestone in disc golf to control a disc to fly 400' plus.

I remember fairly well when that happened. Ive been playing since 2001 or so. Really consistently since 2004-05. Candy plastic was new in disc golf, at least it was to me. I had been playing with cyclones and roc's. Really slow or under stable for a big arm. When the CE Valkyrie and tee birds came out that's when i hit that mark. Id say maybe 2002 or 3??

I was at oak grove in Pasadena on the field warming up and a local had a new Valkrie. I had never thrown anything that stable before. It was an awesome feeling to really see the disc glide. Early in my disc golf career I didn't have much control. But as the disc became more stable and predictable, throwing 400 feet is less a challenge than before. If you have the ability, technique and arm speed.
Thanks for thinking of me for your blog!

– Philo Brathwaite

I'm still waiting to hear back from more people, but I decided to post what I have so far because I've been sitting on this entry for a while now. If I'm lucky enough to receive more responses I will post a follow-up.

Thank you for responding Nate, Gregg, Avery and Philo!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rediscovering DX on an Easter Day

I mentioned before that I started throwing Innova discs back in 1996, but felt like my game progressed when I threw my first Discraft mold. I only threw plastic for about a year back then so I never had the chance to delve into a disc-buying and trying phase. It wasn't until recently that I finally started throwing Innova molds.

My wife likes the game and owns her own bag of discs. Usually, when I'm ready to buy a disc or two I find myself wondering what new disc she might like as well. Tee Birds were on my mind at the time, so when I added a Star Tee Bird to my Internet cart I went ahead and clicked the tiny box for a 150 DX Tee Bird for my wife.

I started thinking about the old days and wondered what DX plastic I threw back then that made me feel like the entire Innova brand wasn't for me.

When the exciting day arrived we opened the USPS package and removed our new purchases. I couldn't wait to finally throw the Star Tee Bird, but I found myself equally curious about my wife's DX mold.

Fortunately, she let me try it out. The plastic actually felt OK. I knew the rigidness would have to take some getting used to, but I figured that wouldn't be a problem. After throwing hers a couple of times on a serious hyzer line I decided I was going to buy a heavier one for myself one day.

That day came extremely quick.

When my blue 170 DX Tee Bird arrived I went out to the field and started experimenting. I immediately found out it was going to be a great under-stable disc. I knew I would be able to hit some nice lines down tight fairways, but there was one thing I didn't know right away.

I didn't know I was going to start driving this $8 disc further than my go-to distance drivers.

On Easter I hit up a course in Redmond, WA called Juel. It's a wide open park with nine baskets and 18 tees. It's a great course to practice long precision drives and putting. Unfortunately the ground gets saturated after heavy rains, so most of the course was unplayable since I didn't feel like wading through ankle-high rain water.

I played the few dry holes over and over again and a couple of them were around the 350 foot mark. At one point during my practice the Nuke started pissing me off. I couldn't accomplish a good flight. After I had thrown my two Nukes and a Star Tee Bird I grabbed my DX plastic in anger, stepped up and tried to puncture the atmosphere with it. I stood in amazement as I watched it slowly stand up from the hyzer line, start gliding right and then slowing start gliding back left as it made its way back down to the dirt.

"I just out drove my Nukes," I said to myself. I couldn't believe it. I only threw about 345 feet maybe, but it was further than my other weak drives with premium plastic. I felt like I knew even less about this sport than ever.

Since then I've been using the cheap Tee Bird in my game more and more. I've noticed that I need to throw with good form to get it to go far, but that's OK because that's what I'm really trying to accomplish.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Drive Analysis

I took my wife and daughter to my secret throwing ground when the rain let up yesterday. There's a problem though – I don't think it's so secret after all. When we arrived I noticed a man practicing his form while throwing a disc, but his disc looked a bit heavier than mine. He was practicing his discus technique. It was cool to watch.

I also saw a boy and a man playing with a remote control airplane. This field was full of flying objects. With all the activity around there was still plenty of room for me to practice, so I went to work.

I asked my wife to shoot some video using my phone so I could break everything down later. This will be my first video analysis for this blog.

Many of my drives felt good, and I may have broken the 350ft barrier. I've decided to save up for a range finder so I can know for sure. Are there any brands I should stay away from?

I focused on two aspects, my grip and my non-throwing arm. I realized my grip could be stronger and that my left arm usually swings wide while I'm pulling through. Below is a picture of me teeing off from hole three on the backside of La Mirada in California. I believe the picture was taken sometime in 2010. It was this picture that made me wonder about the positioning of non-throwing arms.

I started to notice in videos that a lot of pros kept their non-throwing arm close to their body. I sent out a bunch of questions to random people over the Internet, but couldn't get an answer. Finally, I saw the Disc Golf Monthly TV episode on YouTube featuring the clinic with Garrett Gurthie. He used the analogy of an ice skater spinning to explain the reason behind keeping your arm close to your body – it creates a faster spin of the body.

I knew for sure I needed to incorporate it into my drives.

I believe it helps a lot. The combination of that and a tighter grip made me feel like I made progress yesterday.

Now, here's something I want to work on next:

Pictured above is the moment when my right foot plants on the ground. It's completely sideways. I'm wondering if I'll generate a better heel pivot and more power if I turn my body so that my right foot almost matches my left foot. 

Overall, I'm extremely happy with the small bits of progress. If you have any critiques please share. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Maw 'N' Paw

Disc golfing friends of mine came up with an idea one day. This husband and wife, after a ton of hard work, now have their idea splashed on the front page of Discovering The World. 

The Maw 'N' Paw disc golf towel is awesome. Sure, maybe I'm a little biased, but after using one for a while I can truthfully say that it's the only towel I will ever use.

Innovation is everywhere in our sport and this couple, who are obsessed with disc golf like the rest of us, found a way to bring innovation to something that's usually a simple rag we stuff away in to our bags.

This tie-dyed cotton towel has a shammy patch sewn on to one end allowing a player to not only dry their hands, but to completely dry their discs too. They come in two different styles and are also decorated with a cool embroidered basket.

Living in the northwest I've been able to truly test this product out. The cotton side does what it should. It gets the mud off of my discs and dries my hands. Then, the shammy addition completely dries my disc so that I don't have to worry about slippage.

I'm proud of these fine folks for pulling this off. Congratulations you two!

Check out to pick one up. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Field Practice

Holy cow, I'm sore.

The sun came out to say hi this weekend and I took full advantage of its presence. On Saturday I drove down to SeaTac Disc Golf Course and played a full round with my wife and her cousin. Sunday was devoted to field practice.  

I mentioned my plight before regarding empty fields in this area. It seemed impossible to find an open area without human targets when blue filled the sky. Well, I may have finally discovered my secret throwing ground.

The practice session started with choosing which discs I was going to throw out of my bag. I went with two Elite Z Nukes, two Star TeeBirds and a Champion Leopard.

I stretched for a while and then threw some easy upshots to the area I wanted to tee off from. This swath of grass looks like an old football field that hasn't been groomed in a while. The field goals are vintage and there are no bleachers in sight. 

Standing under one of the goal posts I looked out at the other one across the field and wondered if the distance was regulation. I believe the measurement between football goal posts should be about 360ft. I felt like I would never reach the other side.

And I didn't.

I probably drove 50 times and stopped, because I was tired and didn't want to push it. I thought about hitting up Terrace Creek Disc Golf Course afterward, but figured it wasn't a good idea considering how my entire body was feeling.

The beginning of the session was sort of weak sauce. I wasn't warmed up yet. I finally started snapping off some good drives near the middle of the session and toward the end I was petering out.

I worked on so many different aspects of my drive, but the one thing that seemed like a constant hindrance was my footing. The soft ground made me feel heavy and the unkempt grass below my feet made me feel slow. Of course I realized I was reaching for excuses that justified my inability to get any of my discs to land near the goal post. 

Reality quickly took over. I am slow. I am heavy. 

But I'm getting faster and I'm getting lighter.

The highlight of the weekend came on Saturday and was easy to pick out. Pictured above is hole 14 at SeaTac DGC. According to Disc Golf Course Review this hole measures out to be 545ft and is a par 4.

I hyzer flipped my 169 Elite Z Nuke through all the trees and landed in a prime spot for an easy upshot. I nailed my second-shot line and made the chains sing with my putt. I never thought I would shoot a three on this hole... just like I think I will never reach that other goal post. Hmmm... 

I love inspiration.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My New Plastic

Are you one of those disc golfers that needs to hold back when buying new plastic? I am. If I had the money and storage space I would probably buy a ton of discs every month. I didn't used to be like that though.

I hadn't purchased anything for a while. The baby was sleeping, the beer was cold and it was a Saturday night, so I figured it was a good time to hop online and make a few purchases.

I went with a 171 Star TeeBird, an X-Out 173 Champion Leopard and an X-Out 169 Elite Z Nuke. I bought the TeeBird from Disc Nation and the other two from Marshall Street.

When I first played the game I remember using a couple of Innova discs, but it wasn't until I tried a Discraft disc that I felt like I could finally get some distance. With that mentality stored away in my mind I started buying only Discraft discs when I picked up the sport again later on in life. Eventually I justified it by thinking all manufacturers have discs that will fly the way you need them to, so why not stick with one company in order to keep yourself from buying a bunch of discs with similar flight patterns.

Silly me.

Deep down there was a part of me that wanted to throw every disc in every weight just to see the differences.

I finally gave in to my desire and I'm now in the process of mixing up my bag with anything I feel like trying without any company loyalty.

I'm not sponsored, so I shouldn't restrict myself.

The sun is supposed to make an appearance this weekend, so I'll be getting out to give these three some flight time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Free Innova Discs: Scam?

I propped myself up against the couch the other night and waited for the whiskey to take effect. I wanted a solid night of sleep, because lately my mind has been racing – and our 1000-year-old cat has a ritual of getting up from her bed, clawing her way out of our room to eat and drink and then clawing her way back into her bed. Then, what seems like 20 minutes later, she does it again... and again... and again.

I'm usually searching the Web for disc golf related news, videos and blogs. Most of the time I find myself making disc wish lists while picking through sites like I love that site. I like how it's organized and how they categorize their products. They include sections such as x-outs, vintage and goobered.

They even have stock under "prototype" of a disc I helped name for ABC discs. The BeeLine. Word has it that the disc didn't pass PDGA approval, because it's just way too gnarly for sanctioned play. Apparently the disc would have turned the tables in favor of the player so much that players without the disc would just quit the game, and would be flooded with threads like, "Is Cinque on his way to being the best disc golfer in history?"

I haven't heard anything for a while and the ABC disc site hasn't been updated, so I'm not sure what's going on with it.

Anyways, I stumbled on to a video posted on YouTube regarding free Innova discs. This guy went to and apparently followed all the rules and ended up receiving some discs he had been wanting.

I was interested, but I've encountered offers like this before and usually it's some sort of a scam, or they want so much information that it feels wrong to participate. The site leads you to a site called Following some brief research I found out that after you join this site you are asked to take part in different offers from different companies and if you do everything correctly you are rewarded with points.

I guess the points are used instead of money to shop for items on If Amazon has it then apparently you can earn it by participating.

Things like this are usually too good to be true, but after searching Amazon for disc golf related items I'm kind of curious to see if this is actually legit. Free Leopards? Nukes? Tee Birds, maybe?

I'm probably going to regret it, but I'm thinking about making a new email account, Facebook, Twitter or whatever just so I can test this out. There seemed to be an equal amount of negative reviews and positive reviews about the process. Some people were complaining that after building up so many points they were banned, because they were suspected of cheating. Other people were raving about everything. Who knows? Those other people might be the person working for the site. The Web is sticky and tricky. I'm not sure what to believe yet. I won't give out the e-mails of my friends and I won't give out extremely personal information, so I'm not sure if I'll go through with it if that's what they end up asking for.

I'll let you know what happens. Have any of you ever tried it?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Poor Old Eldo

I received some pictures from my friend Dennis down in Southern California this morning. It looks as though El Dorado Disc Golf Course has lost another tree.

I used to frequent this course with a small group of guys when I lived in Long Beach. Once in a while we would notice an ill-looking tree and wonder if that one was the next to fall during a big wind storm.

This time it's the big tree that is situated near the closest pin position on hole three. It didn't take out the basket, but it would have come close if the positions were different today.

This last photo shows the dead tree with the tee position off in the background. I used to practice my straddle putt from behind this tree. Damn.

A lot of the trees on this course look like they're either old or sick. It seems like every year the park loses another one.

Thanks goes out to Dennis Clark for sending me the photos.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hips First, Head Down

I'm back.

Apparently when "they" say it's going to rain here they really mean it's going to rain at some point, or maybe it won't rain at all and don't be surprised if you see the sun for a minute, but it's probably going to rain. Well, it was great out. Some drizzle fell on my face, but not much at all. The sun even made an appearance. The worst part of the day was trudging through the brown swampy muck around hole two. I didn't mind too much though, because my new Delaveagas were keeping my feet dry.

Happy St. Patrick's day by the way. While throwing around I received a text from my friend Dennis down in Southern California. He said, "Kiss me, I'm shit faced again!"

It made me laugh, so I sent him a photo with an attached message saying, "A kiss from this mouth?"

I ended up playing 36 holes at Silver Lake in Everett, WA. I made it a point to practice throwing my hips out first and man oh man – I could tell it was something special. For a while the technique kept making me release too far to the right of where I was aiming. I wasn't grip locking it, or Danny DeVito-ing it (I like calling it that because of a scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest where he hurled a basketball in the wrong direction), I was simply releasing in a different direction. My arm was whipping around a lot faster than usual and I believe this adjusted the point of my release. I remedied this by situating my self differently on the tee pad.

After a while I felt like I could continue on without thinking too much about it, so I decided to add one more new feature to my drive. I started keeping my head down.

What the hell? That is certainly a different perspective. I noticed in a few self-made videos that my head stayed level as I pulled through and sometimes it was off doing its own thing. Who knows what I was looking at, I sure don't.

When I forced my head to look down and follow through with my drive I found I could watch as I ripped the disc across my chest. It felt like I was over my disc and had more power and control. When I was able to link the two new techniques together I was left watching a disc in a beautiful flight.

Silver Lake isn't really a course you go for distance on. According to the longest hole is 324ft. This fun nine-hole is really about control and putting, but when I was concentrating on "hips first, head down" I noticed I was either overshooting a hole or reaching a basket with less effort than usual.

I believe progress was achieved today.

If you want to see what my scores were for these rounds you can find me under Cinque on the DGCR site.

The List

Another day of practice has sent me off into a messy mental think-a-thon. I was able to hit up my local course, Terrace Creek in Mountlake Terrace, yesterday and the swath of grass near holes 5, 6, 7 and 8 was finally empty so I took full advantage.

I knew what I wanted to work on, but I didn't know how to stop myself from working on all of it at the same time.

Here's what was going through my mind before each practice drive:

Lead with the hips.
Elbow out.
Plant foot.
Heel pivot.
Tighten grip at last minute.
Head down.
Keep left arm close to body.
Follow through.


I would look up at my disc in flight and reevaluate the "boom" part and think to myself, "That's more of a dink." Also, "I didn't want to throw it over there." Then I would replay the feel of the drive in my mind and wonder if I actually did anything on my list.

What a mess.

I ended the session with a few good drives, one of them measuring out to 346ft according to Google, so who knows how accurate that is, but most of the progress came with the determination to scale back my mental list while practicing. First things first. Lead with the hips.

For now on I'm going to just practice that to make sure I'm not strong arming my drives. Then I'll move on.

It's raining a bit today, but I just put my daughter down for a nap and my wife is home from work, so I may hit up a little nine-hole course called Silver Lake in Everett. It will be the perfect chance to play a full round and to get all swingy with my hips.

Plus, I just got some new Keens. :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Hunt for 400

I'm a disc golfer in search of distance and consistency. I'm comfortable with my upshots when it comes to grip, stance and aim. I'm more comfortable with my putting than I have ever been. Driving is the problem at the moment and yesterday I had a humbling experience.

I was just out of high school the first time I played this sport. Huntington Beach Disc Golf Course in California was just down the street and a few of my musician friends had been throwing plastic for a while.

It was 1996 and according to my friends I needed a driver and a putter. The H.B. pro shop sold new and used discs, so I bought a used orange X-Clone and a brand new blue Magnet putter. I remember truly enjoying myself out there and played steadily for about a year or so.

Then I stopped. I don't remember why. Just because I guess.

I wish I hadn't.

In 2008 my soon-to-be-wife and I were living in Long Beach, Ca. We were driving down Studebaker one day and passed El Dorado Disc Golf Course. She ended up noticing the metal baskets and asked what they were used for. After explaining the game I asked if she was interested in trying it, and just like the time I asked her to marry me she looked into my eyes and said, "I don't know. Should we?"

Just kidding. She said yes – an enthusiastic yes, I should mention.

Now the X-Clone is shuffled away among many newer discs and the Magnet is saving my game more and more.

I started reaching the 350 foot range about a year ago while playing Eldo (El Dorado) almost daily, but I knew my form was off. When I started tweaking certain aspects of my drive I began to lose distance, but I'm determined to reach the 400 foot mark this year and in order to do that I need to perfect a smooth and consistent technique. I'm actually at a point in my game where I would rather throw in an empty field than play full rounds.

When my family and I moved from Long Beach, CA. to Edmonds, WA I discovered a few challenging things. First, winter time means winter time. The ground is wet, which makes the tee pads wet. I hate wet tee pads. If I'm not comfortable on a tee pad then I'm not throwing well. Second, people love their parks up here. If it's not raining then everyone and their dogs are walking in a nearby park, which makes throwing in an empty field nearly impossible during the afternoon and evening hours. Third, it's darker in the morning here and our bedroom window is situated in an area that doesn't receive much sunlight. That makes getting up early to go throw extremely difficult – especially when I know it's going to be 30-something degrees outside.

Even though these factors play a negative roll in my journey to become a better player I still get out as much as I can, which brings me to yesterday. The rain had subsided, so my wife and I bundled up our daughter and went searching for an empty strip of grass. We found one downtown at City Park and immediately parked. This field had a covered amphitheater-type building with a dry concrete ground that looked out on to a wide open field.


I began stretching and then I began throwing. My wife practiced too and for additional exercise my wife (Tricia, but I call her Dish) volunteered to run out and pick up the discs. We probably practiced for a good hour before it got too cold for my daughter (Olive). So, we packed it up and went home.

I was throwing a 171 Elite Z Nuke, a 170ish Surge SS, a 170ish Hurricane and I was trying out a new 150 Blizzard Destroyer. I picked a tree off in the distance and started throwing. When I reached the distance of the tree I felt like I had hit a mile stone. I went home happy and cheerfully opened my computer to see if I could mark the distance on Google Maps.

Then reality hit. 348 ft?!

I was glad to reach that distance with a few of my drives, but that means all the other drives were much shorter. Crap.

So, here it is. A new blog to document the time I spend playing disc golf. I'm on the hunt for 400 and I'm hoping to reach that by the end of the year. I'll document that process here, but I'll also get all wordy with my bad self about other topics too.

Thanks for reading.

- Cinque