You would think running a website like All Things Disc Golf means we spend hours upon hours on the local courses getting in full rounds on a regular basis. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. This past week was the first time in nearly six months that we were able to play two full rounds in the same week. We get out to the course more often than that, but it is typically used to test new discs for reviews in various conditions. We have a calm day one afternoon and a windy day the next and we’ll make sure to test upcoming discs in both conditions for the best results.
We love testing new discs, but we lose the rhythm on the course, especially when it comes to putting. Having that muscle memory is key to producing consistent putts that hit the heart of the basket every time. As we started out on the course this weekend, we had two things that clicked with us when it came to putting: keeping a keen focus on a single point and moving away from the practice basket.
Pick a single chain link and focus on it
As we got out on the course we had the familiar frustration of missing putts by very small margins. Misses were either just slightly left or right of the chains, but chain high, or right in the middle of the basket, but a hair low.
We took a moment, stepped back from the putt we just missed and realized our main issue. We were aiming at a general region of the basket and furthermore, we were dropping that focus at the last second.
We were aiming to hit a region that was a just above the center of the pole and slightly to the right with the idea of letting the disc hyzer into the basket at longer distances. On shorter putts, we were nearly dead center with our aim, but not always the results.
Slowing down, we walked through our routine again to figure out where things were breaking down. We narrowed down our steps to this order:
- Arm movement
- Hyzer angle
- Chain link
- Deep breath
First, we’d get our grip set. Next steps weren’t taken until we felt comfortable with our grip. This is important. If you go through your entire routine and then need to adjust your grip, you’re starting over again. It doesn’t matter how great the rest of your form is, but if the release is sketchy, your putt will be sketchy.
Everyone has their own preference for their grip and we’d really say go with what feels comfortable for you. We can talk about different grips another time.
We use more of a pitch putt over a spin putt. That doesn’t mean we don’t have some spin to it, but the majority of the putting motion is in more of a pendulum swing than a bent elbow throw.
After getting the grip set, we move our arm up and down the pole. We’ve seen Ken Climo talk about how you’re painting the pole in a sense. This is exactly what we’re trying to do. Plus, this is building up some of that muscle memory we lost. This movement is what we need when it comes to the actual putt.
Next, we drop the left side of the disc down a little bit into a hyzer angle. Knowing we’re naturally going to open our wrist and roll it over a little bit, this allows us to start it at a deeper angle and then release it correctly for the best flight. The amount of hyzer we used surprised us and does take some time to find the sweet spot. Play around with this and soon you’ll find that perfect angle.
Don’t forget to adjust this angle depending on how long your putt is. Longer putts will naturally have some more energy behind it and we find ourselves adding a little extra hyzer to very long putts. We put some more power behind it and thus roll our wrist open even quicker than before. As we get closer to the basket, we almost use more of a traditional spin putt technique and we lose some of the hyzer angle in return.
After adjusting our grip, arm motion, and hyzer angle, we finally focus on a single chain link. Some argue that you do just need to focus on a single region. We’re in the party that believes the smaller the target, the more accurate you are. A chain link on the back side of the basket is our favorite to aim for. This forces us to putt THROUGH the basket and not just at it. We still pick something maybe a chain or two right of the center pole and maybe a few inches above center.
On longer putts, we’ll move a little higher in the chains. We expect the putter to drop out toward the end of the flight, but giving it that added height is key. Again, this is an area that takes some time to really get the feel for. Dial it in and you’ll have much more confidence on long putts.
We start with the putter right in line with our eyes with the focus still on that single chain. As we drop our arms to get things started, our eyes remain focused on that single chain. You’re looking to throw the putter at that chain and not just at the basket in general. Once you start to get the rhythm for this, you’ll be surprised by how accurate you can be with this mindset. Plus, small mistakes can typically lead to made putts since you’re aim is still at the middle of the basket. Don’t take that for granted though.
Regardless of what chain you pick, keep the focus on that chain the entire time. Early on we found ourselves finding the chain and losing that focus the second we began out putting motion. We’d pick it back up, but now we’re out of sync in our putting motion. The more you have to think about, the tougher this is. If you know your grip, arm angle, and aiming point are all set, you don’t have to focus on those now.
Finally, right before we begin that putting motion, take a quick deep breath. Remain focused on that chain, relax the rest of your body and putt with confidence.
Practice on the course, not at the practice basket
Most courses have a practice basket that can be very useful when it comes to warming up and getting loose before a round. In our minds though, for true putting practice, the best conditions come on the course instead.
You can walk all around the practice basket and putt for days, but you run the risk of keeping things a little too easy for you and the results might not translate to the course.
Yes, being able to putt from within 15 feet is important, but do you consistently leave your drives within 15 feet of the basket? I know I don’t.
For putting practice, using your true drives is a better simulation of what you’ll see on the course. Well, it really isn’t a simulation then. Typically there are two or three putters in our bag during any given round. After a drive, we’ll go through our putting routine as we previously described. On a made putt, we quickly analyze why that went in. Was it a perfect routine and our aim was spot on? Did it go in, but we missed our mark by a bit? Regardless of the question, the answer is always “putt again.”
We grab that second putter and do it a second time. This is building that muscle memory. On a miss, we instantly have a chance to correct it. We’ll even putt three or four times until we get it right. We’re a fan of the “end on a good one” mentality too. If we’ve nailed a great putt, end on that high note and remember that moment.
By practicing on the course, we get to see what is thrown at us. Straddle putts come up often or a chance to putt into a headwind, tailwind, or crosswind. Whatever our drives bring us is what we’ll practice with. If you throw 18 drives, aim for at least 30-40 putts at the very least during that round. Putt twice on a hole whenever you can. You can even throw a few drives on a hole and putt a few times from each one.
Now, if the course is packed, be courteous to those around you and don’t back things up too much. This works better when the course is pretty empty and you have the time for those extra putts.
Use the practice basket to get loose, but really get your practice in on the course instead.
Routine, ribbons, and rings from Barry Schutlz
We’ve shared this video before, but it is a great follow up video to what we’ve just talked about. Barry Schultz does a great job of breaking down a routine and talks about aiming on a specific point on the basket. Do yourself a favor and watch one of the best in the sport talk about his putting routine.
Really great article. I can relate to spending more time on website stuff than on actually getting to play. Nice to see you were able to get out and play! Funny that it still turned into research for an article! Love how you broke down things here, very helpful. Keep up the great work!
REEA-lly like your emphasis on ‘actual putts’. Players line up unfettered putts before rounds all time. But unless you play some boring courses, those wide open ‘Free Throws and 3-pointers’ can only get you so far. On a real course, you get ONE chance at a less familiar putt in the tournament. Correcting those odd and challenging putts during practice rounds is well worth the effort.