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Does this describe your regular routine? You arrive at your local disc golf course and have an hour and a half to spend. You invest two minutes walking to hole #1 and stretching. Then you play holes with your buddies (probably singles or best shot doubles) until you have to leave.

It is the average routine of the average disc golfer. By doing this you might get better. Slowly. Very slowly. Your chance of passing a more naturally gifted rival is nil. You likely will reach your level within a year or two of playing and stay there until disinterest or age degenerates even that.

By spending more of your time practicing and less playing holes you can accelerate your learning curve. Practice, if done properly and consistently, will skyrocket your improvement. You will be shocked how good you can be.

Players do not practice because it is not as much fun as playing a round of golf. The happy solution is create practice games that are fun to play.

Most tournaments are won or lost from 150 feet on in. It is the short game which is the key to success. Here is a simple, fun game to work on approaches and putts. It is called Points.

Everyone (two to six players) has 4 putters. Drop a mini anywhere from 80 to 150 feet away from the basket. Players throw in rotating order. A made shot (ace) is worth 5 points. A shot which hits metal above the pole is worth 3 points. A shot which does not hit metal must be putted from where it lands. If the putt is made it is worth 1 point. If the putt is missed it counts minus 1 point. Play from the same lie for four rounds (16 total shots per player). Most total points wins. Winner picks the new spot but must shoot first in the next game.

The game teaches you to run at the basket without going too long. It also gives you practice putting under pressure. Imagine how good you would be if you practiced this game twice a week for and hour at a time.

Some players enjoy practicing by themselves. Personally, I would far rather practice with my buddies. Some friends are far more tolerant of practice than others. So I create lots of different games to lure them into practicing. If my friends get better from practice it just pushes me more to keep up with their pace.

A game I am currently playing a lot is called Roller Mania. Last fall I attended the United States Disc Golf Championship Tournament. The Winthrop University Gold course is a great course. Great tournament (the USDGC crowns the national champion in disc golf. Players have to earn an invitation to play in it). During the four rounds of play in the tournament I saw all these players kicking my butt with rollers. They had a shot that I did not possess.

Rollers are such a tough shot to learn. A roller is just an extreme anhyzer. Turn your turnover a bit more and it rolls. Seemingly anywhere it feels like without regard to your wishes. But somehow all these top pros have this shot down. It is an awesome weapon. I decided to try to learn the shot.

Since then, except for the times when deep snow prevented it, I have played a lot of Roller Mania. Because there are a lot of shots taken in this game it is best played in groups of 2 to 4. It will work with a larger group but it is very slow.

Roller Mania is a singles, stroke play game (singles, count your throws). Each player throws two drives on each hole. One of the two drives is a mandatory roller. The mandatory roller can be thrown forehand or backhand. The player chooses which drive to use to complete the hole. The unused drive is just picked up. There is a drive sequence rule. A player cannot use three drives in a row of the same type. So if on the first two holes a player chooses the air shot then the next hole he or she must use the roller. The exception to this drive sequence rule is that a player may use that 3rd drive in a row if it is an ace, in which case it counts as a first drive. Play for total score.

This game teaches you the roller. You throw it on every tee pad. You throw it from places where you would never normally choose this shot. You learn to roll for distance. You learn to roll down tight tunnels. You learn how to make a roller turn right or left.

I now have a roller. It is not all that great, but it has been practiced for only a few months. It is clearly getting better. I now throw it when it is the most obvious shot, even in tournaments.

Roller Mania has other variations, like Forehand Mania. Here the mando drive on each hole would be a forehand. You could also play Overhead Mania (Thumbers and Tomahawks).

If neither of these games appeals to you then make up your own practice game. If your game causes you to practice more then it will be successful.

by Mark Ellis /

Turning Practice Into Games