Basically, how far away should you be when you go to your upshot disc?
I’m a big believer in the Innova Caiman. You may throw the Tactic, Zone, Pig, or Deflector. It’s a personal choice but I know that everyone can benefit from an overstable mid/putter in their bag whose sole job is to get up and down near the basket. These discs fall under the category of utility for me. They’re not for putting with, driving with for distance, or anything other than get close to the pin and stop.
Putters or high glide discs may carry past the basket, or catch a crosswind and be picked up for a long putt. Throwing an overstable disc is what we’re going to be looking at today. All of these discs also have very low glide ratings, so they don’t go far and you can throw them with a little extra oomph without worrying.
How I start to think about approaching the basket depends a lot on where I am relative to flat. If I’m high up on a hill and the basket is lower than my feet, I’m much more likely to upshot rather than putt. If there’s an uphill behind the basket I’m running the putt because the hill will act as a backstop.
Let’s start at what your comfortable putting distance is. It should be at least 33 feet. You don’t have to make it every time inside circle 1, but you should be at least confident enough to be bringing out your putter from that distance.
One way to figure out where your weakness is, is to keep walking backwards away from the basket. What you’re looking for is the moment where if you run your putt and miss, your comebacker will be in jeopardy.
Now Andrew, you said one key to putting is confidence. How am I supposed to be confident if I’m thinking about missing not 1 but 2 putts in a row?
Wow, thanks for reading the blog about confidence. It’s one of my favorites from this last year.
The answer is that right now we’re practicing. The key to getting better at disc golf, or anything else is to practice. And in practice you better fail. If you aren’t failing while trying to get better at something, you’re not trying to get better at it. Go out and fail a little at something difficult in disc golf.
So when you’re so far away that you’re not feeling confident it’s time to get out that approach disc. I bag several Caimans, and I keep a handful in my practice bag. That way I can get the same shot a few times in a row. If you have just one disc that you like I recommend having a friend near the basket who can throw it back near you. Not to you, or at you, because discs hurt and you shouldn’t throw them at people.
I like to practice both the backhand and forehand shots from about 100 feet. That’s my range where if I run the putt I may not make the comeback putt. But if I throw my Caiman, I’m very confident that I’ll get up and down.
The point of this exercise and practice is to limit the number of strokes you take at the end of the round. If you’re competing you want a lower score, and sometimes running it just doesn’t make sense.
That’s when it’s time to take your upshot.
When is another time when you should take an upshot over putting?
When you’re worried about OB or Water. There’s a magnificent basket on Hole 4 of our Eagle course. It’s not hard, at 211 feet it’s the second shortest hole on the course.
But there’s water all along the left side of the fairway and beyond the basket. Here’s the lead card from the 2016 USWDGC playing the hole.
Here’s Simon Lizotte laying up with a putter instead of a disc that doesn’t roll. Then continuing to try to make long dangerous putts until even he takes the layup. This is a one time “nightmare” for him, but for all of us rated under 1000 I’m sure we’ve had similar holes where the bleeding can’t seem to stop.
Water is the worst. I think we can all agree it hurts twice as much because not only do you lose a stroke, but it’s possible you lose the disc as well.
When there’s water involved unless I’m sure I’m making the putt, I generally lay it up.
Are there any other times when it’s appropriate to take an upshot?
Yes, any time you’re going to win. Always take the win. If you’ve got a guaranteed 2 stroke advantage and a 45 footer don’t risk that roll away. Lay it on up to 5 feet and get a single stroke victory.
If you’re playing with friends for lunch, or for tags, or whatever bet you have, go ahead and give it a layup. As the winner you earned it by playing better on other holes.
Here’s the 2017 USDGC final hole (spoiler alert: Sexton gets his biggest career win here.) He has the lead here and decides not to risk a roll away, or any drama whatsoever.
Also any time we’ve got a downhill involved.
We’re all familiar with death putts. Sorry, that’s a bit presumptuous of me. A death putt is when the basket is close to OB, or a downhill slope. Here’s a death putt hole for sure, hole 11 on our Eagle course. It’s difficult to tell from the camera angle, but if you watch the entire hole you’ll see that the basket is placed precariously near a ledge. If you miss, you’re likely to have your putter fly down the hill and then roll away at the end. You’ll turn a putt into another upshot and putt. So anytime you’re facing a long hill where you’re not confident, give it an upshot. One of the most important things to do in that scenario is try to match the angle of the disc with the angle of the hill.
In this case it was flat, if someone threw a high shot and tried to spike their disc down it could roll. When you’re throwing an upshot on a hill try to make sure you don’t give your disc a chance to roll. Here’s an article if you’re interested in reading more about it.
This blog has been about when to throw an upshot. Here are the main points.
Good luck out there, let me know how your upshot game is going!
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397
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