The sport of disc golf is growing, and so is the size of our courses. The professional game requires longer layouts to challenge the distance of the top throwers. Even the new everyday disc golf course layouts are incorporating more par-4s, par-5s, and long par-3s. This makes the fairway driving and scrambling parts of the game even more important if you want to get better at disc golf.
Let’s face it. There is usually an advantage to throwing off the tee pad. It is a defined surface, whether it’s turf, concrete, pavers, grass, gravel, or dirt. We will all argue that we prefer one type of tee surface over others, but most courses are fairly consistent from one tee pad to the next. You cannot say the same about fairways and rough. You never know what kind of lie and stance you will get.
This is why it is important to practice your fairway drives, long upshots, and scramble shots as part of your overall disc golf practice routine. Here are some tips to consider:
1. Stand Still
One of the most overlooked throws to practice is a stand-still stance. However, these shots can be a huge difference-maker when playing competitive disc golf. Like we said above, you never know what kind of lie and stance you will get once you are off the tee pad. You may be in a position where you can’t take a run-up or the footing isn’t great. You could be standing in mud, atop roots, in a gopher hole, or at the edge of a tree line with branches in your face. You might have a tricky downhill, side-hill, or uphill lie. Incorporate stand-still throws and straddle stances like outstretched forehand flexes and patent-pending angles into your normal fieldwork routine. Having more stand-still and awkward-stance abilities in your arsenal will make you a much better disc golfer. Learn to throw these different shots with power, touch, and accuracy to prepare yourself for any situation.
We should also note that learning to throw better stand-still shots should help improve your throwing form, in general.
2. Different Run-Up Angles
In addition to stand-still practice, you may want to play around with some different run-up angles. It might be taking just one step or coming in from the left or right. Again, a standard run-up from behind may not be a great option depending on your lie. Practice your run-ups from different angles and lengths to expand your skills.
3. Try Some Scramble Shots
Speaking of adding to your disc golf skills arsenal, you can practice different scramble shots. Throw some overhand thumbers and tomahawks. Learn how to control air-bounces and skips for low-ceiling shots. Maybe even try a few throws with your off-hand. It could come in handy someday (pun intended).
4. Stretch and Warm-Up
Before you approach any fieldwork session or practice round, you should warm-up and stretch your key joints and muscles. The odds are you will end up throwing more shots than during a normal round. It’s easy to wear yourself out or injure yourself, especially if you practice throws you don’t attempt to often (overhands, stand-stills, patent-pending, etc.). Don’t push yourself too hard. If something feels a little painful, take a break. Too much pain on any throw means you are doing something wrong or you may have an existing injury that should make you cautious.
5. Learn Your Discs
Perhaps the most important aspect of fairway driving and scramble practice is to know what your discs do with each type of throw. There are times when you need to force the disc on a certain angle and there are others where you want to let the disc do the work. Let’s say you are up against the side of a wooded fairway. Your next throw demands an “S” shape. Depending on the overall distances and angles, you may have options. You might force flex an overstable disc like a Firebird, or maybe you throw something flippy like a Sidewinder flat and let it turn and fade naturally as it is designed to do. Practice different shots and angles with different discs to see what you can lean on most during the actual round.
7. Use Your Imagination
Practicing on a course or at a nice wooded/hilly area is ideal for practicing your fairway/scramble throws and angles, but it’s not always an available option. Sometimes you don’t have anything but a wide-open field. This is fine because it’s where you are doing your normal fieldwork anyway. In this case, you may have to use your imagination sometimes. Set up your own obstacles or simply visualize the type of shot you need to throw. Practice it until you find the right form, angle, and disc choice to execute what you are trying to do.
These are just a few useful tips and exercises to help you improve your fairway and rough play as you work to get better at disc golf. You may not need it as much if you are only playing shorter par-3 tracks, but it will help you expand your skills and you might even be surprised at how it improves your shot selection and execution off the tee!