Liven Up Your Game With Ground Play

Liven Up Your Game With Ground Play

“What goes up, must come down.”

It’s not often I quote 17th century mathematicians in a disc golf blog, but Newton’s right on this one.

Your disc goes up in the air but then it’s going to come down to the ground. You have to do a little mental preparation for what your disc is going to do, so you can get into better spots.

This week in the blog we’re going to look at discs that stop, sit, roll, cut roll, anti-skip and skip. These are the 6 different ways (that I can think of) that a disc can react when it hits the ground.

Why does it matter what my disc is going to do when it hits the ground?

1. Footing. Throwing on a hill or in a muddy area is always going to make your next shot more difficult. If you can get your disc to a dry or flat spot you make your next shot easier.

2. If you’re playing a wooded course it’s extremely important. The difference between landing in the fairway and having a good angle to the pin and being pinched off is sometimes a couple of feet. How your disc reacts may change your lie by as much as 10-15 feet.

Discs that stop when they hit ground.
It’s not common for discs to come to a complete stop on the ground when they hit. There’s a disc designed for this called the Gumbputt. Because of how soft the disc is it compresses and all of the energy is transferred into the disc and back out at the same angle.
Other times the disc stops completely is mud, or if it’s a slow flying disc that hits the ground at the perfect angle and sucks itself to the Earth. Discs that do this kind of make a *thwop* sound when they land.

Discs that sit.
When I say sit, I mean discs that hit the ground and do a little pop up in the air but don’t travel on the ground. These discs are all ones you’ve likely heard of, discs like Pig, Zone, or Tactic. Basically anything that’s slow, has a flat top, and is very overstable.
These discs are an important staple in the bag. We’ve all got that spot where we could hit a big putt from but if we miss it’s a long comebacker. This is when you throw that short approach disc and get a 10 footer to save your par. They’re all great at handling the forehand or backhand. Here’s Ricky throwing a Pig in a fun round in 2021. See how it just pops up but is never in any danger of rolling away or skipping?

Discs that roll.
You’re probably looking for a disc that won’t cut roll. One of the most common causes of cut rolls are when you’re throwing an anhyzer shot and the disc holds that angle all the way to the ground. To combat this try throwing a more stable disc on an anhyzer if you can.
The other common cause of cut rolls is throwing a high speed disc slowly, if you throw a driver very slowly you can sometimes get a random roll.
Rolling discs can go long distances, if you’re looking to learn about throwing rollers I recommend throwing your midranges from the basket you’re finishing on to the next teepad. Try some forehand and backhand throws just to see what feels good in your hand. In Maine rollers aren’t as useful with all of the trees we have, so it’s not something I see a lot.

Discs that Skip.
Anything overstable with a wide rim is going to skip when thrown flat. This is a valuable tool in your disc golf tool belt. Here’s James Conrad in 2020 at the USDGC on Hole 6 doing a safe little skip. It was never in any danger of going out of bounds. Skipping a disc offers you the ability to be a little more precise with your shot distance. I’m a big fan of throwing a skip shot on Hole 13 on the Falcon for my ace run.
Also fun fact, as I write this blog this hole is being changed to move the basket even further to the left. So you’ll definitely want to develop a skip shot if you want to get that ace run.

At 221 feet it’s a short hole and makes sense to try throwing a mid or a putter. But I can’t get enough height with the branches to give myself a clear shot at an ace. So I aim down the path with an overstable high speed driver and the disc skips forward through the gap and up high to the left. When you plan a skip shot it can be one of the coolest things in the world. Just like Chandler Fry does here.

The playing surface matters when you’re playing disc golf.
Just like if you’re playing any other sport, disc golf differs when the ground is different. When players play at the Memorial in Arizona they know the short dead grass will lead to more skips so they leave their drives out a little wider.
When playing in the rain and longer grass of the Beaver State Fling they know that the discs grip more and you can throw faster discs knowing they’ll stop.
At Sabattus we’ve got many of our baskets in the woods surrounded with wood chips. It absorbs the *thwop* of a falling putter or the approach discs well, but high speed discs tend to skip right off the surface.

There are so many things to think about when you throw. But make sure you’re thinking about what your disc is land on is a big part of it.
I always love to hear from folks about their best ground play. If you’ve got a good story, video, or picture leave it in the comments.

May your discs miss all the trees, and stop rolling away from the basket,
Andrew Streeter #70397