The Discmania Guide to the 2015 Aussie Open

By the time of writing this article we’re less than 24hrs away from the kick-off of the tournament action of the historic first ever PDGA Major on the Southern Hemisphere. We are naturally talking about the 2015 Aussie Open, a high class event situated at Mundaring DiscGolfPark near Perth, Western Australia. What makes this event extra special for Discmania is that we are proud to be the presenting sponsor of this fine event. It’s definitely an occasion of firsts, as this is also the first PDGA Major in which we act as the main sponsor. If you want to get a sense on what to expect from this event, look no further than these two earlier articles about the 2015 Aussie Open:

Oct. 3rd, 2014: Discmania Presents the Aussie Open, CD2 Fundraiser Release
(includes an interview with the Event Organiser Chris Finn)

Dec. 22nd, 2014: 2015 Aussie Open Feature – The History of Frisbee Sports in Australia

First Major win for Lizotte, Beastliness by McBeth or something else?

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Like expected for a PDGA Major and despite the exceptionally early slot on the PDGA Tour schedule, the top 5 male players on tour are on site to compete for the victory at the first Major event of the year. Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, Nathan Doss, David Feldberg, Simon Lizotte – these names are familiar to everyone who follows professional Disc Golf. A 30,000 AUD total prize purse will be awarded to the best finishers in 5 different divisions. The very long and challenging Mundaring DiscGolfPark course is expected benefit those who can throw far and accurate, which should work in favour of Team Discmania’s Simon Lizotte. Simon is known for his huge arm and to prove it, he broke David Wiggins Jr’s previous distance world record in November with his astounding 263,2m/863,5ft monster toss.

The Aussie Open warm-up tournament held last Sunday also seems to speak in favour of Lizotte, who won the one round tournament with his -5 round over 2nd place finisher fellow German Martin Doerken (-2) and the tied 3rd place finishers Paul McBeth & David Feldberg (-1).

While the set up seems to suit Lizotte, it’s way too early to speak about winners. 4 long rounds on the challenging 3010-meter Par 65 course take a lot of endurance, especially as the weather forecast for the tournament days promise highs of over 33°C/90°F for all tournament days. Thunderstorms are also a possibility in this hot Australian summer weather. “Making the transition from the heart of winter with -10°C/15°F in Finland to the scorching heat of the Australian summer is not an easy one”, says Discmania CEO Jussi Meresmaa, who arrived to Perth on Sunday. Jussi is present to offer Discmania’s support to the tournament organization, but also as a competitor tackling the course he has helped the DiscGolfPark Australia course designers Chris Finn and Chris Himing to design for this event. “Hydration and staying in shade are critical for everyone’s performance in this event. I will be carrying a big umbrella on every round to be able to escape the sun when necessary.” Jussi concludes.

No matter who will win this fine event, we’re sure it’s going to be a battle for the history books. The Aussie Open being the first Major of the year, the winner will also get a decent amount of bragging rights for the upcoming season to go with his 6,000 AUD prize cheque.

How to follow the Aussie Open

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The Aussie Open Staff has done a great job putting together several channels through which fans a home can follow this fine event. Below you can find links on how to follow:

Official Tournament Website – AussieOpen.info

Live Scoring – PDGA.com

Live Photo feed – AussieOpen.info

PDGA Results & Ratings – PDGA.com

Aussie Open on Facebook

Aussie Open on Instagram

Aussie Open on Twitter

The twitter account PDGAlive will also be following the tournament action from the 2015 Aussie Open. For social media posts from and about the event, make sure to use and follow the official tournament hashtag #AussieOpenDiscGolf.

#TeamJussi vs #TeamSimon contest on facebook

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Just like during the 2014 United States Disc Golf Championship, we are running a #TeamJussi vs #TeamSimon contest on our facebook page. All you have to do to enter is to go to facebook and comment either #TeamJussi or #TeamSimon on the contest picture by midnight Perth time (GMT+8) on Friday, January the 30th. One lucky commenter who has guessed the higher placement on the scoreboard between Jussi & Simon will receive a special collectable Discmania disc.

Videos

While there is no live feed available from the Aussie Open, the SpinTV will be in-site at the event to capture the tournament action. Play-to-Play videos from the event can be expected to pop up online starting on the week after the event. While you wait for those videos, be sure to check out the videos already published by The SpinTV:

Pre-Tournament Impressions

We have gathered below some early impressions preceding the start of Aussie Open from social media:

Mental preparation for the first major of the year #aussieopendiscgolf

Kuva, jonka Simon Lizotte (@simon_lizotte) julkaisi

Happy Australia Day! #Fireworks #AussieOpenDiscGolf #DiscGolf

Video, jonka Nate Doss (@natedoss) julkaisi

Viimeisen väylän greeni clubitalosta kuvattuna #aussieopendiscgolf #discgolf Kuva, jonka Lords Of Disc golf (@lordsofdiscgolf) julkaisi

Finishing touches on the course almost done! #aussieopendiscgolf

Kuva, jonka Aussie Open Disc Golf (@aussieopendiscgolf) julkaisi

PS. A limited number of Aussie Open fundraiser discs are still available at Discmania Store USA, InnovaStore & The Frisbee Shop ;) Support the growth of Disc Golf by picking up a couple sweet fundraiser discs!

Team Discmania signs reigning European Champ & Silver Medalist

It’s the new season and that means exciting new additions to our team roster. In late December we announced the formation of Discmania’s North American promotion team and now it’s time to welcome new members to our European representation. Both of the new additions hail from Discmania’s “home” country of Finland and both of them showed some exceptional skill and endurance at last year’s European Disc Golf Championships. But without further a due, meet the players:

Jenni Eskelinen (FIN)

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Jenni is without a doubt one of the most interesting up and coming player in our sport at the moment. Hailing from the Disc Golf crazy city of Oulu in Northern Finland, Jenni has only been a PDGA member since early 2013 but already boasts a very impressive track record. Out of the 25 total events Jenni has played in, she’s won 10, most memorable victory being the 2014 European Championships in Geneva. We were able to do a quick interview with Jenni, who is currently in her off-season training mode, working as a Sports Instructor in Virpiniemi Sports Institute.

First off – Welcome to Team Discmania! What can we expect from the reigning European Champ on season 2015?
2014 was clearly the most successful season in my short career with Disc Golf. The European Championships and many other great events laid a solid foundation for the upcoming season, which I expect to bring even more success in Finland and abroad. I’m still fairly new to the sport and very willing to gather more experience as a player and a competitor. I will enter the season 2015 filled with excitement and motivation. My goal is to finish strong on the highly competitive Finnish Pro Tour as well as in certain selected PDGA Major events. I always get hyped up for big events and as I have yet to participate in a PDGA Major, so those events I’ll be looking forward the most.

Do you have any short term or long term goals in Disc Golf?
My main goal is to develop myself as a player. This naturally is and always will be a work in progress but I feel that with the experience gained through different tournaments and determined training, I’ve got my sails set in the right direction. On season 2015 I aim to develop my technique as well as my mindset as a tournament player. My long term goal in Disc Golf is to be able to play on a high level as long as possible, but also to be involved in the growth of Disc Golf, making the sport bigger and more recognized among traditional sports.

Tell us some of your favourite Discmania discs and what you use them for
Starting the 2015 as a member of Discmania Tour Team will cause some changes in my bag, as so far I’m only familiar with a few Discmania models. Out of the current Discmania line up my current favourite is the S-line PD, which I use for long hyzer shots in just about all conditions. I feel that building a new bag with the discs Discmania has available will be an exciting challenge and I already know that there’s multiple great options to choose from.

Share us a memorable Disc Golf story or achievement
Naturally winning the European Championships in Geneva last year was the biggest and most memorable achievement to date. Also the Disc Golf training course in which I worked as an instructor in 2013 was an important milestone for me both as a player and a Sports Instructor.

What does being part of Team Discmania mean to you?
Accepting Discmania’s offer to sponsor me means a lot to me. I feel honoured that a company like Discmania sees potential in me and wants to support me as a player. I’m excited to see what the 2015 season will bring and what we can build together with the Disc Golf driven Discmania staff.

Niko Rättyä (FIN)

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Like Jenni, Niko also resides in Finland. His home town of Ylivieska is located a little under 100 miles south of the North European Disc Golf hub of Oulu. Niko has been a PDGA member since 2013 but has still managed to rack up 10 number 1 finishes in PDGA sanctioned events, scattered across Junior, Amateur and MPO divisions. At the pristine age of 17, Niko is and will be force to reckon with in the future events of the sport. His biggest achievements to date include a silver medal in the 2014 European Championships as well as the Finnish Champion title in MJ16 from 2013. We caught some quick questions also from Niko to introduce the new face to the Discmania family.

Welcome to Team Discmania! What can we expect from you on the 2015 season?
I’m expecting a big smile on my face from the joy of being able to play the sport I love. I hope to contribute some great frisbee spirit along the Disc Golf community. Tournament-wise I’m especially looking forward to my PDGA Major debut and the 2015 Finnish National Championships in Lahti, Finland.

Do you have any short term or long term goals in Disc Golf?
Yes I do. After I found my motivation again, I want to keep it growing. Having fun and enjoying the sport and the people is my key to success, that’s my long term goal.

Tell us some of your favourite Discmania discs and what you use them for
I love throwing accurate putter shots, and for that, I use P-line P1. It’s a disc that features a huge amount of glide and a very straight finish. I literally can’t keep my eyes off it when it’s in the air. You can also see me using my first run P-line MD2 a lot. It flies pretty similarly compared to the P1, but soars further and features a very nice late turn, that makes the MD2 very trusty midrange disc for me. On the other end, when I need a long distance shot, I use the C-line PD2. I also use this disc for sidearms. The PD2 pretty much does everything for me on long distances.

Share us a memorable Disc Golf story or achievement
Definitely the most memorable has to be the European Championships in Switzerland last year. The overall experience really stands out for me, including my 2nd place finish, the team spirit of the whole Finnish team and the Finnish “sisu” that was shown in Team Finland’s overall performance.

What does being part of Team Discmania mean to you?
It’s a matter I’m very proud of. It’s like opening the doors to a candy store as a kid. I’m already anxiously waiting for all the opportunities that will follow with me being a member. It’s a great honour being a team member of the most stylish and credible Disc Golf brand out there.

See the full Team Discmania roster here!

-REINVENT YOUR GAME

Swing it Backwards

I get asked quite often, some variation of the following: I'm stuck at X distance and I just can't work out this bracing thing. What can I do to learn the brace?

No matter how I explain it, nothing beats the following: Grab a baseball bat or a ball-golf club and swing it just regular handed. Now if you're a terrible baseball player or golfer, maybe you can shoot a hockey shot or swing a tennis racket or even a traditional bowling shot?  We want some motion that you're used to doing with your regular hand, specifically that involves bracing your weight against your instep of your plant foot.

We want a reference to feel so that we can then replicate that feeling using your non-dominant hand. When I was trying to work this out, swinging a club opposite handed hadn't dawned on me, and I regularly had the thought, "If there was just some kind of machine that I could get inside of that would put me in the right positions!"

We don't have one of those just yet.

But, the beauty of having a reference for your regular hand swing, is that you can flip it over and practice it opposite handed - which is what the bracing motion is for a backhand.  You want to develop your opposite handed swing until you're nearly as proficient with taking those swings.

What it teaches you is how to keep your center of balance inside the brace of your plant foot and hopefully the instep of your plant foot as well.

Link for mobile users: Youtube

So enjoy learning to hit opposite handed... just remember that if you're working this out in the house because it's cold outside to move your wife's favorite lamp before you start!

Lesson learned the hard way.

The Journey to Controlled Distance

By Brian Castello

First off I would like to say thanks to Heavy Disc for allowing me to come on board and share my disc golf journey and other disc golf topics with you from time to time.

I am just a fellow amateur player who has been bitten by the disc golf bug and is on a mission to improve my game. I thought it would be interesting to chronicle my journey from what I think is basically the start of my adventure to better form and hopefully becoming a better disc golfer.

If you're a natural talent to disc golf; if you pick up the game and start throwing 350-400ft within few months of playing I applaud you. You're the envy of many players including myself.

My experience has definitely been different. If I could summarize my journey into a few different points/phases it would be this:

  1. Hard work
  2. Persevere through frustration (bad habits are hard to break)
  3. Small victories

The title picture is a perfect example. That is a picture someone over at DGCR (dgcoursereview.com) made for me when giving me feedback for my form. I had been doing fieldwork almost daily but for the most part I hadn't been filming my throwing sessions. It can be a hard pill to swallow knowing you worked your tail off to get better, and then you look at the film/pictures and realize you got a long way to go. It really shows the importance of filming yourself during at least a few of your field work sessions each week.

I've learned there is no silver bullet. There is no magic thing that will make you instantly go throwing from 300ft to 400ft. Its a cycle of putting hard work into your field work sessions. (Be intentional with your field work. Don't just go out there and throw plastic in a field. It's most likely not going to get you the results you want.)  Film yourself throw; then get feedback from people more knowledgeable than you. Take the advice and incorporate when necessary into your form. Persevere through the bad days and enjoy the small victories. Repeat as needed.

Great minds think alike. This sums up everything quite nicely.
And I can't stress this enough: you will eat, drink, sleep, think, poop, video review, work, write, take notes, ponder upon, mull over, and of course field work these issues... until you simply want to give up and just throw the disc however feels comfortable. Some days, you'll probably want to leave your discs sitting near a disc golf course with a note reading, "FREE TO A GOOD HOME, ENJOY!"

And then the next day, you'll pick up your bag of discs and head out to the field to get back to work.     - Heavy Disc
Before I started working on form I could throw around 325-350ft depending on how good of throw it was. However, I couldn't tell you where in the world it would be going. I would play in tournaments and most of the time finish last in my division. Players that wouldn't out drive me threw with better accuracy and played smarter than me. I knew I had hit a ceiling when it came to my disc golf game.

Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards. If we are honest with ourselves we never want to hear that statement. Losing distance when trying to gain distance will hurt your pride especially when you see other players out driving you. Today, I can throw around 270-310ft from a one step/standstill shot. Most of those shots are on the 270ft side as well. However, I'm starting to throw my shots with better accuracy and hit my intended lines with a greater percentage. I will take that every time over uncontrolled distance on my shots.

I am definitely excited about my disc golf future and my journey to more controlled distance. I look forward to sharing my struggles, frustrations, small victories and (hopefully) breakthroughs. I know I have a long way to go, but it should be a fun ride nonetheless.

How does this work?

I received an interesting message from a young player who asked point blank, "How did you learn so much?" That's a pretty flattering question, and one that I think I need to address.

First off, I feel like I don't know that much. I may have found some better ways to do things, but I'm far from a form master. I lose rounds all the time, because I am still a fledgling disc golfer. I do feel though, that with lots of work - I was able to improve my skill set. I also feel like I throw in a way that will allow me to throw for another 10-20 years without injuring myself.

So how did I learn so much? Let's first change that question to "how did I learn what I learned?"

The easy answer, is that I spent time nearly every day throwing shots. Short shots, mid range, drives. Hyzers, flat, anhyzers, stand-stills, from a knee, various x-steps. I took lots of notes about what worked and what didn't work in a notebook. I'd shoot video of every round of field work and then look at the differences between my form and McBeth's form.  If I could see something different, then I would stand in that exact position and try to mimic his form without moving.

Just trying to mimic the Champ. I was rounding.
Total disaster. TOTAL disaster.
Once I could get into what I thought was the correct position, I'd add just a little bit of the shot back in. I was going about 5-10% of full speed. My wife would laugh at me all the time as she walked into the living room to find me standing there with a disc trying to move my hand back and forth.

Then I would also ask specific questions with screen caps like below at DiscGolfCourseReview's Form/Analysis and get feedback from guys who could spot my issues.

Back in the early days, with so many issues.
So much of my time was spent just trying to feel what those key positions felt like while standing in my living room. Then in the field, it was trying to reproduce those positions. As I started adding in more momentum into the form, I'd get some really amazing results.

Trying to fix over opening my shoulders. (Thanks to Sidewinder22!)

The magic of getting it correct, to my best way to describe it, was shared in this post:

http://www.heavydisc.com/2014/08/guess-what-im-doing.html

I found a big help in developing form was realizing that the feeling I wanted was like hammering the disc forward, and pulling back on the rim as it ejects from your hand. It's a strange sensation, but very much like trying to hammer a nail into a board that's way out in front of you.

I also think that as much as distance is chased after (we all like to throw far) - accuracy and putting will win more rounds than anything. When I practice now, I look for small areas to throw through from 100-150' away. For example, if you had a tree that had big branches hanging down - try to get it under the tree consistently. Those are the shots that save par and really improve your score.

This went on for ages.
And I can't stress this enough: you will eat, drink, sleep, think, poop, video review, work, write, take notes, ponder upon, mull over, and of course field work these issues... until you simply want to give up and just throw the disc however feels comfortable. Some days, you'll probably want to leave your discs sitting near a disc golf course with a note reading, "FREE TO A GOOD HOME, ENJOY!"

And then the next day, you'll pick up your bag of discs and head out to the field to get back to work.

I also wanted to take a quick moment to welcome a couple new authors who are working on some articles sharing their own path along the road. I look forward to reading about their learning curves, struggles and success.

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