Thursday, August 21, 2008

Execution Before the Shot

If I've seen it once, I've seen it a hundred times. I see so many newer players with a great attitude about the game, unreal raw talent, dedication to improvement and that one thing that separates most players - the desire to be the best. These guys step up to their shot and just before I watch them throw what will probably be thrown smoothly with great form and control, I cringe.
So many newer players in the game lack the ability to execute the shot before they even throw it. This sets them up for a poor shot and in the end, it costs them about two shots per round. You are probably wondering how in the world execution happens before the disc is even released. It is simple, really. You must execute your shot selection in your mind before you even throw the disc.
I really never understood the importance of shot selection until I moved up to playing pro. There were many times where I would step up to a hole and take a route that no one else in the group threw or throw a midrange when everyone else was throwing drivers. Did I sometimes pick up birdies? Of course. Did I sometimes reach those holes with my midrange? Of course. However, I soon understood that just because I could park a hole going a unique way or reach a hole with a midrange doesn't mean that I selected the best option.
The first thing to think about with shot selection is the angle of release. The angle of release of a disc is vital to throwing a good shot and is something that most people overlook, I feel. If you are in a tight lie or on a tee pad with a gap to hit right off the tee, you don't need to think about the basket at first. If the shot sets up best to hit that gap with hyzer, use a hyzer release. If you it sets up best to hit it with anhyzer, use an anhyzer release. I like to think of it like this; focus on the first 1/3 of the hole. If you hit the initial gap at a good angle every time, it really is tough not to shoot well. To me, this element is what separates most players, especially the elite guys. Sure, they mess up from time to time, but more than likely, the first 1/3 of the hole is played pretty well if not flawlessly.
Now that you have hit the gap easier in your head, now focus on the rest of the hole. You have to visualize the flight of your disc through the duration of the hole, and that starts back at your release angle.. If you are hitting the gap with hyzer and the hole goes to the left (assuming righthand backhand), you don't need to throw as stable as a disc as you might think because the disc is already at a hyzer angle. If it goes straight, you need throw a bit flippier than you might think because once again, the disc is at a hyzer angle. This same philosophy can be carried over to anhyzer releases and throwing a disc with more stability than you might originally think.
I see so many newer players who immediately think that any shot that is anhyzer is a sidearm, thumber, or a flippy disc and any shot that hyzers as a tomahawk or a stable disc. Nothing could be further from the truth! If you can begin to control your stable discs on turnovers and your flippier discs on hyzers, you will be amazed at how quickly you get better simply because now you are focusing on hitting gaps as opposed to parking the hole.
The next problem I see before a tee shot is disc selection. Just because you have thrown a Roc 320 feet or just because you can doesn't mean that every shot that is 320 feet is a Roc shot. So many people ask me "How Robert, how far do you throw a midrange?" or "Hey man, how far do you throw a putter?" To me, there is no answer to that question. I can throw a midrange 340 and I can throw a putter 300, but how far do I throw them is impossible to answer.
If I'm in on an open hole (assuming calm conditions and no OB) and it is 280 feet, more than likely I am throwing a stable driver out wide and crashing right beside the basket. If I'm on tight wooded hole and it is 280 feet, more than likely I am throwing a putter or a midrange.
OK, so when do you throw a driver and when do you throw a midrange and when do you throw a putter if you have the option for all on a shot? While there is no concrete answer because everything in golf is situational, there are some basics strategies that can help.
These situations are probably best to throw a driver (assuming right hand backhand)
- There is OB right / it is better to be left- A driver has a better chance of hyzering.
- It is better to be long of the pin than short of the pin / you have OB to cross- A driver has a better chance of traveling further.
- There is a head wind or a left to right wind - A driver has a better chance of flying its natural flight in these winds.
- The hole is uphill - The hole will play longer than you think.
- The hole calls for an anhzyer release - A driver is more likely to fight this release angle.
- There is lots of open room to the right of the basket - A driver can take a wider path down the larger opening and still reach the pin.
- The hole is mainly open - Drivers provide a consistent flight and they are very easy to predict.
These situations are probably best to throw a midrange or a putter
- There is OB left / it is better to be right - Most midranges or putters will turn over easier.
- It is better to be short of the pin / there is OB long - A midrange and putter won't travel as far.
- There is a tail wind - A midrage or putter will travel much further than you think in these winds and the tail winds increase a disc's stability.
- The hole calls for a hyzer release - A midrage or putter is more likely to come out of the hyzer release.
- The hole is tight - A midrage or putter typically will have the same flight the entire time it is in the air.
- There is lots of open room to the left of the basket - It is easier to anhyzer a midrage or putter than a driver and this allows you to take advantage of the easier path to the pin.
- The hole is downhill - A midrage or putter not only will go further than you might think, it also has a better chance of not changing its flight as it looses speed going down the hill.
If you begin thinking about your shot and the angle of release, you will see drastic improvements in your score quickly! If you visualize a shot and focus on the first 1/3 of the hole at first rather than the hole as whole, this will also help as well. Good shot selection turns horrible shots into bad shots, bad shots into poor shots, poor shots into OK shots, OK shots into good shots, good shots into great shots and great shots into tap ins.