Updated: Feb 17, 2022
In today's game of disc golf, the recent trend and dominating topic seems to revolve around one thing:
No one topic is brought up, asked about, or has more information available on how to improve than how to help someone improve their throwing distance.
The content is seemingly everywhere!
And while it is a very important topic, at some point one may ask themselves,
How important is it to be able to throw far in disc golf?
Will throwing further really help me improve my game?
And the simple answer to both is....it depends.
To be a little more helpful, a better answer would be:
Throwing farther does help, but the farther you throw, the less helpful it becomes.
This answer may seem somewhat confusing, so I'll do my best to explain.
What it means is that throwing a maximum distance of 300 feet is much better than throwing 200 feet, and 400 feet is much better than 300 feet.
But throwing 500 feet is not likely to make you a better disc golfer than your 400 foot competition unless you are also a better at approaches and putting.
In other words, it's not as big of a difference or advantage, even though it is still a 100 feet better.
The 400 foot thrower may be of equal putting and approach ability as the 250 foot thrower, but they will be able to get to the pin in fewer throws more consistently, which puts them at an advantage.
Put that same 400 foot thrower up against a 500 foot thrower and the one who is better at approaching and putting will likely find themselves throwing better rounds more consistently.
Why is this the case?
Well, think about your average disc golf course, how many holes do you usually play that are over 300 feet? 400 feet? 500+ feet?
Sure, every average course may have a couple holes that are rather long, but many of them are just as likely to be less than 300 feet.
Take my local course for instance, 9 of the 18 holes are 300 feet are less, 3 are 300-400 feet, 5 are 400-500, and just one is over 500 feet.
So on over half the holes, that 400 foot maximum drive isn't going to be nearly as important as getting your throw as close to the pin as possible with accuracy and finishing the hole with good putting.
Throwing 100 feet farther than everyone on your card isn't going to come in handy in situations like this one, and if the entire course has sub 400 foot holes, it probably won't matter at all.
Unless your card mates are only throwing 200 or 300 feet at most anyways.
Starting to see what I mean?
Distance does matter, but as you throw farther, the other parts of your game should be improving as well.
I could be a 500 foot thrower, but if I can't putt worth a darn, I'll still be throwing pars on par 3's as much as I did if I were to throw 400 feet.
For one more example, let's take a look at a random, 600 foot hole.
A 200 foot thrower will need almost 3 throws to get within the circle most of the time. A 300 foot may be able to get there in 2, sometimes 3. But anyone who is throwing over 350-400 feet will have a great chance to be in the circle within 2 throws most of the time.
At this point, it will come down to who is more accurate and who can putt the best.
Even for the 600 foot thrower, they could theoretically ace this hole, but at that point, their overall accuracy and putting ability is way more important than how far they are throwing.
But there is a catch (or two)
One exception to this is that when you can throw far, you will have the ability to throw with sub maximal effort on those shorter holes , which "can" be more accurate if you have practiced throwing with less effort and focused on accuracy.
When you speed things up or use more power, it is harder to maintain good form. Slow things down and you will may sacrifice some distance, but with the side effect of having better precision due to better form and technique.
Another potential benefit to throwing farther is that you have more available shots at your disposable.
Maximum distance is often tested and displayed with long, S-shaped flight patterns.
While great for maximum distance, you and I both know that there isn't always the space needed for a such a throw to take place on every hole.
Sometimes you need a long, high hyzer shot to get around obstructions to the basket. Other times, a long turnover or forehand shot is needed.
If the pin is only 250' feet away from the tee, but is around a large bend to the left, a maximum throwing distance of 300 feet with a flex shot is not going to help you much because a hyzer shot is needed.
If you can throw 400 or 500 feet however, you may still be able to get to the pin, even with a hyzer or turnover shot.
This fact is on full display when watching Pro Tour events.
Eagle McMahon can throw over 700 feet on a maximum distance throw, but rarely do you see him do so when playing a live round.
For one, the holes aren't always that long, and two, that shot opportunity isn't there.
What I do often see however, is Eagle throw a 400 or 500 foot hyzer shot and land within the circle to set up a short putt for birdie.
Even though he didn't need that 700 foot distance, his ability to throw far and accurately helped him in this situation, where someone who maxes out at 500-550 feet will likely need to settle for one more stroke barring a far throw in from outside the circle.
However, if the hole is only 250 feet, then a player who throws 400 feet or 700 feet will each have a great chance at birdie if their accuracy and putting are up to snuff.
Not to sound too repetitive, but again you see how increased throwing distance is beneficial, but becomes less important after a certain threshold.
Pro players may have the need to throw farther than us, but this is largely due to playing on courses that are lengthened for them to make things harder.
So if the importance of throwing far decreases with more distance, what else is important in disc golf?
At some point in your disc golf journey, your distance gains will become less and less.
Sure, you may pick up 25-50 feet here and there over a long period of time, but at some point you will be limited by factors outside of your control.
We just simply aren't all destined to be 700 foot throwers.
When this happens, you should still work on throwing form and distance to remain fluid, but you also need to remember to work on your putting and approach abilities as well if you haven't already.
I'd even argue that putting and approach/mid-range work should be fine tuned way sooner than you should ever worry about distance.
The problem with working on distance first is that players develop bad form habits because they're trying to throw as hard and as fast as possible, and good form usually goes out the window first.
Working on approach shots allows you to slow things down and focus on the important stuff, like accuracy and control.
As mentioned previously, putting is also key to separating yourself from the competition, even when you're not throwing quite as far as them.
If I had a choice between throwing an extra 150 feet or increasing my effective putt range, I'm taking the putt advantage every day of the week.
Because the importance of throwing distance tapers off the farther you throw, sometimes the only way to remain competitive is to have superior putting abilities.
Not every player may be able to throw 700 feet, but we all have the ability to improve our putting and approach accuracy, it just takes practice and repetition.
If you feel like you've been on the "throw as far as possible" hamster wheel and are frustrated with results, keep in mind that your distance doesn't need to be as important as sometimes may make it and there are plenty of other ways to improve your disc golf game instead.
To mix things up, dedicate full days to putting.
Putt from different distances, winds, angles, and around obstacles.
You should also work on improving your accuracy, both off the tee and on approaches of all lengths.
If you need help throwing farther, then check out our articles,
To get started in the right direction!
Throwing far in disc golf is definitely important to an extent, but don't dwell on how far you can or can't throw and simply focus on getting better in other ways as best you can.
Good luck, and Happy Disc Golfing!
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