When I arrive at a Disc Golf course and watch players practice before a round or tournament, I have often noticed players focusing on practicing long-range putts, while neglecting the short putts. This focus may be flawed. This focuses on draining putts with a much smaller chance of going in can contribute to lower confidence levels and higher scores. Neither of these is desirable while on the course.
While we can improve our game with better form and longer drives, well over 50% of the strokes we take are with a putter in our hand. (This percentage goes even higher when we play mostly par 3 or park style courses). 2-putting, or even 3-putting, is one the most common mistakes holding back amateurs. Practicing putts from 12-20 feet is often seen as boring, but these are the putts you are going to have to make most often on the disc golf course. Making them will give you confidence for the next hole and next putt, even if it is a bit longer. This confidence will carry over to the tee and your upshots when you know you can make any putt within that short range. This is not a disc golf-specific concept as many may know, completing these easy feats can lead to overall success in other sports also. In football, when a quarterback is struggling to hit the receivers downfield, the play-caller will often call a short/screen pass which yields a higher completion percentage. Now that the QB has successfully thrown a completion, extending that range feels easier to accomplish. In basketball, when a 3-point shooter is struggling to make their shot, moving in for a mid-range jumper or going to the free-throw line increases the likelihood of a make. Once a player sees the ball go through the disc golf basket, the confidence in their abilities instantly improves.
What is the distance of putt that you know you can make every time?
This distance will vary by player, so the answer will also differ for each player. Maybe it is 10ft. Maybe 12ft. Maybe 20ft. Be honest with yourself though. After practicing and determining your “can’t miss distance”, go ahead and spend some time there watching your putts hit the chains and fall into the disc golf basket. Now after building this confidence, just a step or two outside of it.
Of course, you still should be practicing your edge-of-circle putts and step/jump-putts. I don't think that they need to be completely neglected. However, make sure the time spent at that range is proportionate to the number of times you have that length of putt versus 12-20 footers during your rounds.
After analyzing your rounds, if you notice that you are putting from long-distance more often than short, there may be another area of focus to work on. It is most likely upshots. This will be another thought for another Thursday though.
Get outside and play some disc golf this week! Practice a lot of short putts before the round and let me know how it affected your round.
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