Episode 1: Beginner’s Luck and my New Pet Squirrel
In high school I played a lot of ultimate Frisbee with my buddies from the track team. Anyone who has mad the ultimate-disc golf transition knows what I am going through right now. Throwing an ultimate disc is like driving a big powerful truck that has a wide turning radius. Going from a truck to a touchy performance car like a BMW or Mini Cooper (a disc golf Frisbee) is an exhilarating change of pace, but can be difficult in the beginning. Both have their place in the garage, but they are driven very differently.
I showed up at the course in Providence Utah where I met four other friends, all of which are avid disc golfers. This particular course, which I’d never played before, is very hilly and covered with large pine and willow trees. It’s situated above a gravel pit between a park and a residential area on the foothills of the Bear River Mountains. The very first hole was a par 3. It was pretty much a straight shot to the basket, except for two oversized bushes in front of the basket. I watched as the others threw out to the right and curve their discs back to the left around the bushes without going too far and hitting any trees. I tried to do the same thing on the left side (since I’m left handed) but my disc landed square in the middle of the two bushes. Somehow I was able to toss my disc about 15 feet through a narrow gap between the bushes for a birdie! The other guys all hit par with 3 tosses a piece. I was feeling pretty good.
The disc I used was a neon yellow Platinum Flying Squirrel, by ABC Discs. It looks like this. My friend Allan had given me a couple of his discs to try for the day. I instantly fell in love with this one. Alan told me it was under-stable. An over-stable disc follows the direction of release. An under-stable disc still follows the direction of release, but is more conservative in its path. I guess you could say it flies straighter. An ultimate disc is under-stable.
As our game progressed the other guys showed me up. They knew each whole and where the baskets were. I would watch them throw and listen to them say: “Oh, oh, oh…nice! Good work!” I just looked forward and saw only trees. How did they know if that was a good throw? Sure enough, we’d walk toward the discs and there would be a Frisbee sitting 10 feet from the basket tucked around a corner hidden by branches and across a dried up stream. These guys just knew where to throw from previous experience.
The next disc I tried was the Discraft Predator ESP, a very over stable disc. It only took me one throw to realize that it’s a completely different animal from the squirrel. Upon release it soared straight and then bend right and followed that path down a hill, over the river, through the woods and to grandma’s house. I’m glad the Predator is bright orange, otherwise I way have never found it! Its course basically followed a “Post” football route: fly straight toward the goal and cut to the corner. I put that disc away for another day when I will have time to learn how to handle it.
For the rest of the game I used that yellow squirrel. It flew like a more streamline ultimate disc and felt fantastic in my hands. I’d recommend it for any beginner.
I’m excited to learn more about how over and under-stable discs fly and when to use them.
Until next time,
Play disc. Eat bacon.