You confidently walk up to your marker, putter in hand. Your feet find that sweet spot between the branch and rock. As you adjust your stance, your back heel comes up, your toes twist, your center of gravity shifts… and you wait… until… it’s time!
After watching your putter sail through the air, gracefully curving in towards the chains, jaws hits the ground in utter disbelief as your trusty putter splashes out and falls flat to the ground. All that practice, all that focus, the way you nailed that sweet spot. How did it not go in? You hit ‘Pro’ side!
Definition: The ‘Pro’ side is generally considered as the middle third area of the chains off-centre of the post on the same side as your throwing hand. Hitting this spot will generally force your disc into the basket and greatly reduce chance for splash out or deflection away from the target.
There is a common understanding that there is an ‘Am’ side of the chains (where your put is more likely to splash out) and a ‘Pro’ side of the chains (where your putt is more likely to go in) and basic physics supports this. However, there is also a common misconception that if your putt touches the ‘Pro’ side that you cannot miss making the putt. This kind of thought can really hurt your game.
The physics that would define why that sweet spot exists is the same physics that makes that location NOT a guarantee.
For a putt to hit chains and go in the basket, you require a throw that has the right combination of speed, angle of entry, spin, level of surface friction (and many more variables) to be successful. If any singular aspect or variable is off, your chance for a missed putt is increased. Your putter could hit the chain slightly offside, or maybe the metal is too cold and slippery, or their is a small gust of wind. Okay, we all know this at some level, but why is assuming the sweet spot is a guarantee a bad thing?
When you make a putt, it not only finishes a hole successfully, but it effectively raises your confidence. We have the axiom of “playing well = confidence / confidence = playing well” to thank for that. When you hit that sweet spot, (regardless of distance) and it doesn’t go in… well, that’s a whole different level of psychological messiness.
It’ll go something like this:
- Blame will be assigned
- the chains for being too heavy/light
- the particular model of basket
- the weather for changing humidty/causing frost/accumulating dust/gusting wind/sudden sunshine
- your fellow player who shifted ever so slightly during your delivery
- the putter, as it had a singular drop of moisture/gouge on the rim and you oriented the stamp the wrong way
- Disbelief will linger
- Faith in your technique and the sweet spot will be lessened
- Your chance of missing your next putt will probably increase as you’ll become uncertain/over-cautious
Regardless of how you mentally process it, if you accept that the ‘Pro’ side isn’t a guarantee, you won’t try to blame everything and everyone as to why that putter and basket conspired to hate you. The ‘Pro’ side will increase your odds of a successful putt. When you practice, aim for those sweet links as best you can. But always keep in mind that nothing in disc golf is guaranteed. There are too many variables in every throw.
If you can accept that truth, if you peacefully accept that the ‘impossible’ can and will happen, you’ll be able to successfully move on to the next throw… and inwardly smile when you hear someone else exclaim “But I hit the ‘Pro’ side!”.
Michael Ramanauskas is a member of Team Disc Cellar and the owner of DoubleRam Disc and Washline.com, and is responsible for multiple custom stamps including: the 2015 30th Anniversary Provincial Disc Golf Championships, 2014 DCO (Disc Cellar Open) and the “Smokom” Sarah Hokom signature stamp.