You’ve probably heard the term “landing zone” if you have ever watched any JomezPro or Central Coast Disc Golf videos on YouTube. Commentators love to talk about these target zones during the drone flight, “The ideal landing zone is here” or “it’s over there. If a player makes the landing zone their next shot is much easier”. These are all things BigSexy or Ian Anderson will talk about.
This blog is going to discuss reasons for hitting these specific areas, how to find them, and I’ll examine one of the trickier ones we have at SDG. Hopefully by the end of this, you can start seeing these ideal areas to land on the courses you play. Finding a landing zone that you can aim for will improve your confidence and your scores.
A landing zone is where you want your disc to end up along the fairway. I’m going to ignore most par 3’s in this blog. It’s not that they don’t have one of these mid-fairway target sites, it’s that for the most part, you’re able to get onto the green in a single throw. If you can get to the green, then aim for the green; that’s where you want to land 100% of the time.
So let’s look at the par 4’s and par 5’s. This is where these landing zones come into play, because not everyone has 400 feet of power. When a course is being designed, most designers create routes that they expect players to take to get to the basket. These paths are made to challenge players and reward them for making good shots, and conversely, punish them for bad ones. You want to hit the target spot because it’s what the course designer intended. They’ve walked through the woods dozens of times, cleared an area, and made sure that it’s fair for players to hit with consistently good drives. If you land outside of the landing zone, it’s not something they planned on and you may or may not have a good line of sight to the basket. Sometimes it’s important to sacrifice a little distance to make the next shot easier.
The best way to find a landing zone is to walk the course backwards. Just make sure you’re not in the way of another group of disc golfers who are throwing towards you! I don’t remember who or where I got this advice from, but walking a course backwards, even one you’ve played 100 times before, is a new experience. There are going to be places where you can see the tee and the basket, and if you had a disc in your hand you could hit them both from that one spot. Congratulations, you’ve found the landing zone! If you notice that there’s a tree that would be in the way of your shot, move so it’s no longer an obstacle. Now you’ve found an even better point to aim for. Walk around and find a spot where 30 feet all around you, you’d have a decent shot at the basket, and you could reach from the tee. Mentally mark that spot and make sure you’re aiming for it next time you play.
Now that we’ve gone over why you should hit a landing zone and how to find one, let’s move on to analyzing one that I think is tricky. Here is the view from hole 10 on our Eagle Course, which I’d go so far as to say is the most difficult hole on this layout. One of those reasons is that you’re not going to see the basket from the tee, and you likely won’t see it after your drive either. I know I just went over finding a landing zone by seeing where you could reach both the tee and the basket, but this is a more difficult hole which is why I’d like to explore it a little further. It’s a tightly wooded par 5 and over 500 feet that has 2 landing zones along the fairway, both offering certain risks and rewards to players.
The first landing zone is just over that first hill where the path seems to end in this photo above. It’s a good landing zone because it’s the easiest spot to hit and still be on the fairway. You will, however, be left with a longer second shot that has to miss trees directly in front of you. If you’re confident that you can miss 1-2 trees that are 25 feet in front of you, this is a good spot to aim for. You’ll have a 300 foot shot to reach the yellow Eagle basket which is surrounded by wood chips. This means you’ll likely have to throw a driver and hope you don’t skip away and roll.
The second landing zone is another 50 feet further ahead. If you’ve gone through and missed the trees, you will find that you’re 250 feet away from the hole. You now have the option to throw a slower speed disc and maybe have a chance at an elusive eagle shot, or at worst, you should have a birdie look. It’s a mostly straight shot and congratulations, this is the ideal landing zone. It takes commitment right off the tee; you have to aim for this vicinity, you don’t accidentally hit it. If you let off a little power and don’t really go for it, you’ll be short and have to run up a hill on your second throw. You’ll still have those trees to miss and be left throwing 275 feet on a hyzer the whole way, which is a difficult shot for any player.
A recap of my advice in this blog is to think about landing zones when you’re on the tee.
I hope this blog helped explain landing zones a little bit more for you guys, how to identify them, and the importance they play in every round you play. As always I love to hear from you folks. Let me know if you think there’s anything that I missed.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397
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I’m a sports management student at USM and for the most part I don’t like pay-to-play sports. I’d argue that they’re detrimental to the growth of the sport, target rich people, and ruin the fun nature of sports.
But disc golf is different.