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  • Chris Davies. Edited by Martin Galley

What is The Secret to Consistent Putting?

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

In 30 years of disc golfing I’ve come to learn many things – and that’s what this blog is all about – trying to pass along what has taken me so long to learn, and which you can easily learn in under a year or two. Today, it's puttin' we talkin' 'bout!

So, there is a mercifully brief and very simple answer to the question I pose above: It’s YOU!

Liene Krastina makes a great putt at Lismore Park DGC, Wanaka.
Liene Krastina makes a great putt at Lismore Park DGC, Wanaka.

That’s right, it’s all down to you, and only you. The real problem is that as humans we are remarkably inconsistent unless we are very talented. Or very experienced. Or very skilful. And preferably, all three.

And, this is why I have developed what I think are a relatively error-tolerant set of putting forms for use in various situations. I’ve done this because I am not an accomplished putter even after many years of giving myself the greatest possible chances to be successful. I am this way because I am not very talented. I am capable, and competent, but not talented, and I have worked hard for every metre I have ever moved away from the basket.

In previous articles I have stated that a large part of getting better is actually making your worst disc golf less bad, rather than playing better shots or sinking longer putts. It’s about making your misses smaller, and your decisions becoming better over time.

Disc golf is a game of continual refinement, after all.

So, paradoxically, it is quite possible to play much better disc golf than your physical level would tend to suggest, provided you don’t muck it up.

Will it make it? Lismore Park.
Will it make it? Lismore Park.

On the putting green too, you can perform better than you can perform, by not screwing it up with silly decisions. So, what are some of the sillier things you can do when putting?

  1. Getting caught between two putting styles

  2. Getting caught between two putts

  3. Throwing nose up into the wind

  4. Throwing hyzer into the wind

  5. Running putts when you should lay up

  6. Going OB on your putt

  7. Failing to commit to your chosen putt

  8. Not listening to yourself when you are full of doubt

  9. Half-running it

Let’s address each item in turn;

Getting caught between two putting styles

This isn’t going to affect new players much, but it can be problematic for long-time players like myself, who have used and practiced every kind of putting form, and every combination of forms it’s possible to use.

For us, even deciding on a putting form can be hard work, and then we need the mental discipline to make sure another form doesn’t sneak in at the last second, and muck it up.

The classic example is a competent player who has taught themselves a true lobbed pitch putt, and a true bent-elbow spin putt. They have discovered that a pitched put only goes so far, and that a spin putt will blow a long way past the basket if it misses. So there is a strong mental urge to add some spin and reduce the loft as you get further from the basket when pitch putting.

But great care needs to be taken when combining putting forms, even if you have practiced them well. There is a certain mental attitude required for a pure pitch putt, or a pure spin putt. For the pitch putt, you mustn’t break the elbow, because “the elbow is evil, and can’t be trusted” (Note 1).

And in a spin putt, you mustn’t loft the disc as you would in a pitched putt.

It can be hard to trust yourself that a pure putt is required, and to execute that pure form correctly.

Getting caught between two putts

This is a classic mistake in disc golf, and probably deserves its own article at some stage. (I have added it to the long list). But until then, a few paragraphs will suffice.

Not sure if you can pitch that far? Wind is a bit dodgy? Slightly downhill behind the basket? Or OB? So - what putt are you making? Low flat spin-putt to skip the wind? Medium height perfectly flat low-spin pitch putt to reduce the wind's influence on the disc?

These are important questions, because missing the putt, or worse, missing the basket might prove to be tactical suicide.

Agonising over a death putt often causes a player to fail to commit to one particular putt, and they try to meld two putt shapes into one - which usually doesn't work.

Or, a player can get confused and hung-up about nose angle, and simply run out of time, sticking it out with too much or not enough. Or you can struggle with the required height for two different putts, shooting for one, but getting close to the other.

Throwing nose up into the wind

This is guaranteed to ruin your day. It normally results in a total basket miss, as the disc gets lifted strongly, which adds hyzer, and causes the disc to end up far away and left of the basket – somewhere outside circle one, but usually inside circle two – for an even longer, crosswind comebacker.

Throwing hyzer into the wind

Hyzer throws result in the disc lifting. And any hyzer angle at all allows the wind to “see” the flight plate, which instantly begins working on it. Headwind hyzer putts which do not hit the basket will continue to be lifted gently, and glide long, where they can skip, or even roll to finish outside circle two.

Into the wind, you need to putt with the nose flat, with anhyzer, and preferably on a downward trajectory the whole way, but a flat release is OK. This is because a disc flying on anhyzer is descending through the air, rather than climbing in it, like a hyzer.

This is why you can throw discs very low if they only flip to flat, but the instant a low-thrown disc flips beyond flat, to any kind of anhyzer angle, it’s going to land short and cut-roll.

When attempting to flip discs over from hyzer to anhyzer, or flat to anhyzer, you need to allow more height than you think you need. Remembering that anhyzers are always descending should help you to flirt with that ceiling height with confidence.

It’s true, even when you throw a sky anhyzer drive: your disc is descending through the air it is travelling through, and it’s only on an upward trajectory because you threw it strongly upward. What makes sky annies so long is that when the disc reaches the top of “Anhyzer hill” it’s already nose down, so it doesn’t stall out. Instead, it begins that long and descending reach to the right, (which is the signature of all good anhyzer flight shapes) before it fades to finish.

Running putts you should lay up for

This is a real problem for some people. Yes, it is a good thing to be confident when putting, and it is generally a good idea to putt firmly, as well. BUT – and it is a very big BUT; going for it when your body can’t cash the cheques your mind writes is a Very Bad Thing to do. And, knowing when to lay up and when to run it isn’t that difficult to figure out!

But before we do this, let’s talk briefly about the difference between Bullshit Bravado and Deep Confidence. Bullshit Bravado is what a player uses to steel themselves for a big putt when they do not have Deep Confidence. Bullshit Bravado causes a player to make bad calls on the putting green.

Deep Confidence is what you have in your putting ability when you have followed the regime I detail in my Proficient Putting article. It allows a player to execute on a long putt, and perhaps even make it.

Well worth noting here are a couple of side issues: You will never be wrong to lay up to the basket, and then drop in. Never. But you will frequently pay the price of running it, which is a triple putt, or even worse; triple putt plus OB.

The second issue is, that if you think you can’t make a putt, then you are absolutely right! There is almost no possible way to go in, if you’ve already told yourself you probably won’t make it.

So, if you feel any negative emotion or feeling about a putt, do not attempt to run it. It’s so simple! Unless you are confident you can make it, and WILL make it, put it under the basket for a drop in.

Going OB on your putt

Wow – that sucks. But you probably deserved it, because you either ran a putt you were not properly confident of making, got caught between two putts, or got caught between two putting styles.

If there is OB in close proximity to the basket, your putting style must account for it, such that if you do miss, you will not be penalised for it. How does that tie in with my “be confident” message, then?

A player who has Deep Confidence isn’t Stupidly Confident – that is the sign of Bullshit Bravado. Deep Confidence allows a player to assess any putting situation, and make the best possible decision to avoid going OB, usually by putting the disc in the basket instead, by using a pitching putt which if it misses will most likely stay in bounds.

Getting an unlucky roll-away into OB is usually a sign of failing to commit properly to your putt, and low putts which collide with the cage stand a fairly high chance of a roll-away. High putts which hit the top hat or upper rim and skip or roll OB are an indication of failing to properly execute.

Failing to commit to your chosen putt

It can be sphincter puckering when the consequences of going wrong are Very Bad. Death putts are called that for a reason. Take the opportunity to think carefully before committing to it, and when you do, you must commit 100% to the putt.

Typically death-putts hit the cage low, when players do not commit, and you can get away with it for a drop in, but equally a chaotic outcome may result in OB, or a lengthy and difficult comebacker.

It’s not just death putts, either. Often a player will putt low when worried about the distance a possible fly-by will create. This is the classic Inner Asshole at work, as I have discussed in a few articles now.

Here’s it’s worth noting that your putting release height is going to be the same as normal; somewhere in between your chin and your nose. Letting go of a disc lower, often results in a low putt.

If you are worried, you could try putting on an anhyzer angle, down into the basket, so as to force a flat landing without roll or skip, should you airball it. “Airdisc” just doesn’t sound euphonious, does it?

Failing to commit can also allow other problems to emerge, like getting caught between two putts, or two putting styles, or half-running it. (see below)

Once you have decided on your form, and your putt, no matter it is a lay-up or a proper attempt, you must strictly enforce your will on your body, to adhere to not just the putting form, but the power and height needed to make it.