Why You Suck At Disc Golf… and How to Improve

If you’re reading this article it is likely because you think you suck at disc golf. And you probably do. BUT you want to get better, so I applaud you for that.

Oh, and welcome to my site. Stay a while and read.

Okay, so you might be thinking, “What qualifies this guy for saying I suck at disc golf?” Well, nothing really. Other than the fact that I myself suck at disc golf. So I have a great deal of experience with terrible scores, getting stuck in trees, and quietly weeping in my car on the way home from a tournament.

You’re in luck though. After years of being terrible at this game I’ve come a long way in learning a few things. And now out of the goodness of my heart, I want to impart to you some of my knowledge. Full disclosure, I am compensated through affiliate links on this site so its really a mixture of goodness and greed. But mostly greed. Gotta pay the bills, right?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me leave you with one last thought before we get into the reasons why you probably suck at disc golf.

I have personally made every mistake there is to make in this sport. Everything in this article comes from my personal experience of messing up and being absolutely dreadful. I’d like to think I’ve improved over the years. In fact, I’d say I have empirical evidence of my improvement after tracking my scores and seeing them get lower and lower.

But I probably do still suck at disc golf. A little. Not as much as some of you though. So let me help you with that by laying out everything I’ve done wrong over the years.

You’ve Never Read the Rule Book

Yep, I see you there. You’ve never actually read the rule book have you? You may not think that that matters much. But it does.

You understand the basic concept of the game. Get the disc in the basket in the least amount of throws as possible. Simple enough, so why mess it all up with more rules? Let me tell you why.

The idea and concept that is disc golf is embodied by the rules established and maintained by the Professional Disc Golf Association. To deviate from the rules means you’re no longer playing the same game as everyone else. You’re playing something else akin to a backyard game fabricated by kids.

The rules are not necessarily special or divinely inspired or a configuration of some genius. They are simply agreed upon standards that keep order and continuity in the disc golf community.

Rules create order out of chaos. They are the means by which we can compare ourselves to one another to track our progress in the game.

When you get in your car and drive down the road, do you follow the rules of the road? If you or anybody else on the road didn’t follow the rules, you wouldn’t be on the same page, which could potentially lead to dire consequences.

Not understanding and following the rules in disc golf doesn’t have the same consequences as breaking traffic laws. But it does have consequences. Consequences which negatively degrade and hold back the game from being viewed as a serious sport to outsiders and newcomers alike.

If you show up to a disc golf tournament and you’ve never read the rule book, you’re going to be lost. If you meet another player and they invite you to play, but you’re never read the rule book, that other player is not likely to play with you again.

Playing with someone that isn’t following the official rules because they’ve never learned them is frustrating. By the end of the round there’s dissatisfaction whether you win or lose, because there’s a sense on injustice that can no longer be remedied.

There is certainly a reasonable grace period that should be applied to new players, but if you’ve been playing for a while take the time to learn all the rules. That way the next time you and I have a discussion about disc golf, we’ll both be on the same page for a meaningful and fulfilling conversation.

If you’ve never read the rule book you probably suck at disc golf because you’re not actually playing the same game as the rest of us.

You Can’t Throw Straight

Yes, you CAN throw a disc golf disc straight…ish. It takes some time and practice to perfect this, but you can do it. Most players that start out have a difficult time with it and that’s because its hard to do. But if you can’t do it, its likely you suck at disc golf.

Players that take up disc golf for the first time will notice that after they throw their golf disc, it will usually fade off to the left (that’s when its thrown with a right handed backhand).

Instead of figuring out why this is happening, disc golfers will simply anticipate the fade and adjust the direction they throw the disc. That way when the disc curves to the left, it will land about where they want it to go. Sound familiar?

All golf discs naturally have some degree of fade or turn. And given enough height all golf discs will EVENTUALLY curve toward the direction the disc is spinning.

However, there are golf discs that are molded to have a straight flight up to a certain distance when thrown with the right speed and elevation. Putters and mid-ranges are your friend here. Take the time to learn how to throw a disc straight before any other throw.

There are times when a curved (hyzer) shot is in order, but you’re going to be presented with far more opportunities to benefit from a straight flight. The fastest way to travel from point A to point B is a straight line. If you’re having a hard time with this, read this article here (opens in a new tab) where I discuss the possible reasons your disc isn’t flying straight.

You Play Too Conservatively

There is a time and place for conservatism. Disc golf is not one of them. At least not when you’re practicing to improve.

If you’re playing in a tournament and the wind picks up, then yes you need to play a bit safer. When you’re playing causally or practicing, you should be going for everything. You should be trying everything.

How can you expect to make a 60 foot putt if you never try it?

When you’re faced with a seemingly impossible situation and there isn’t a way to reach the basket, try anyway. And if that doesn’t work, pull out another disc and try something else. As you try different angles applied to different situations, you’re mind will start to make connections that its never made before. Those connections will stick with you and help in the future.

If there is one place to be conservative in disc golf, it is during competitive tournaments. But as you practice difficult shots, those shots will no longer seem risky when you do go to tournaments.

And even when you are in a competitive environment, you need to take big risks. Don’t just lay up for a par because you’re scared of getting a bogey. Go for the birdie. You’ll miss a lot of them, sure. But overtime you’ll start to make those hard putts from outside the circle.

You Don’t Have a Basket at Home

Ask any serious disc golfer and they will tell you that disc golf is lost or won on the putting green. I’ve watched and played thousands of holes of disc golf and I’ve seen this time and time again.

Good players and great players are both able to get their drives into the circle for a birdie putt with similar consistency. However, it is the great players that are making their in the circle putts more often.

How do they do this? They practice putting all the time.

For most of us, there is only one way to do this. You need to get your own basket at home. You may not have the time to travel to a course to play everyday, but most have the time to go into their backyard and practice putting for 30 minutes.

Before I got my own basket, I really sucked at putting. Now, I’ve actually noticed a significant difference.

On weeks where I don’t have time to practice my putting for just 30 minutes a day, I notice a huge difference in my scores when I play a few full rounds on the weekend.

If you don’t have a basket at home, you likely suck at disc golf. I’ve used many baskets over the years, but there is one that I recommend for home use. You can read my review of which basket I chose for my house here (opens in a new tab).

You Tilt Too Easily

When your hard work is not resulting in the success that you expected, you can easily become frustrated or tilted.

If you find yourself in this state, it is best to take a short break from disc golf and find something else to do. Doing the same thing over and over and producing negative results isn’t going to help you.

When I’m practicing my putts during a long session at my house and nothing is going in the basket, I stop. I go and find something else to do for a while to get my mind off of the immediate problem. I may even go to bed without playing again that day. And on that next day when I go back to practicing my putts, I find I’m better for it.

If you’re in a tournament and you’re round is falling apart, you can’t fall apart. You need to keep it together. Even if there is no hope of coming back, you need to push forward without looking back at your previous holes.

If you find yourself easily getting frustrated when things aren’t going your way, you likely suck at disc golf.

Scott Heywood

I'm Scott Heywood, the guy behind Disc Golf Report Report. I've been playing disc golf over the last several years and have become obsessed with it. At least a few times a week you'll find me out on a course playing, but when I'm not, I'm writing about the sport here on Disc Golf Report.

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