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  • Twilight Zone

    Warning: this is sort-of way out there, and it's a long post to boot. The good news is this will probably be my last long post in a long while.

    I wrote something on this subject a few years ago, as part of a bigger mental-game post. I re-did this on a ball-golf thread and got no bites to speak of. This is perplexing to me because I would think it would be important for a golfer to consider, the subject being:

    "What do you do when everything is going wrong in a round of golf?" which I call the Twilight Zone. We know what doesn't work: bag kicking, overtrying and choking, tanking, beating yourself up, false confidence, etc etc. To me, the essence of good golf is: how well can you recover from adversity? And Twilight Zone is as adverse as you can get.


    TWILIGHT ZONE (TZ), a term from an old TV sci-fi/horror show i guess i'd call it?

    The short definition of TZ is where your round is going soooo bad, often seemingly from nowhere. TZ has elements of

    (1) a nightmare
    (2) a bad acid trip
    (3) nuclear-powered WTF and unreality
    (4) fly-in-the-spider-web struggling and despair

    This is the real deal. This is not like the normal perplexities of golf, like ALMOST making a bunch of putts and not sinking even one, or for some reason you suddenly can't throw a decent low hyzer. True TZ is Alice-in-Wonderland, hair-on-fire, please God i don't wanna die. You're wandering lost in the jungle, nightmare-drunk, emotions are dailed up to 11, your cell phone is dead, and your fortune cookie is blank

    The most unbelievable things are happening. Examples:
    (1) You get an 8 on an easy par 3, and looking back, none of your shots were really that bad. Yet you could have putted left-handed from the tee and gotten at least a six.
    (2) You poof a drive 1 inch OB left. So you re-tee, telling yourself, hey how about a little less poof, then proceed to yank it 1 inch OB right.
    (3) Unbelievable seeing-eye cage rollaways.
    (4) Hyzer shot into waist high grass, skips 30 feet and OB.
    (5) Your first grip-lock in a decade hits a tree, bounces behind you, and hits the park superintendent in the face.

    And this is happening not just once a month, but MULTIPLE TIMES IN ONE ROUND.

    In this bizarro world, hyzers flip, short is long, up is down and left is right.

    As for me, this advice I'm giving below is the best I can come up with when afflicted with TZ.

    (1) GIVE UP. No more beating-in-your-head heroics on the remaining 8 holes to maybe grind out one more skin. Let it go, your round is over. Beating a dead horse is pointless, especially when you're the horse. GIVE UP doesn't mean really give up and walk away, it means let go of your hopes and dreams, your expectations, your tactics and strategy for the round; all of that is swept off the table. Your next shot is still your next shot, and you still try to be the best golfer you can be for the next shot, but your thoughts and expectations of the round and tourney are ooooo-ver.

    (2) PLAY SUPER SAFE. Now look at your next shot, or next hole maybe, Think: what shot can even a hopeless retard like you execute right now? What shot could you execute even opposite handed and drunk? Try your best to look at familiar holes with fresh eyes. For example; that tricky birdie hole coming up with the guardian trees? For the first time ever, you might have to PUTT 60 feet off the tee past the trees, then find the exact middle of the remaining tunnel and drill that, even when it leaves you 45 feet right of the hole, and then purposefully throw your putt short and right of the padlock for a bogey 4 on a hole you usually hope to get a two on, and usually settle for a three. It takes real courage, even audacity, to purposefully give up strokes in a tourney. Maybe look at it this way: you're taking back control of your game by giving up strokes, as opposed to having strokes taken away from you.

    (3) ELS - EASY-LIGHT-SMOOTH. Ernie Els ("The Big Easy") is a ball-golfer famous for his powerful and effortless swing. E-L-S is a good mnemonic for how you should swing/throw for the rest of the round. Easy-Light-Smooth. Think about throwing at 20-50% power, an effortless swing that feels like jogging/gliding down the hill, swimming with the current, wind at your back, etc., so you don't feel like to you need anything extra to add on to your swing; no effort, no grinding, no overcontrolling, etc. With a super-safe course management strategy, you shouldn't feel like you need to steer the disc or execute the perfect shot. You just want a shot that's not absolutely horrible. ELS is also a state of mind: in other words, you clear your mind, breathe calmly, and think clear and simple thoughts. You make golf easy: choose a shot you can't help but execute well enough, pick a target or intermediate spot, put down your mini, step back, and throw. Try for 10 seconds max to execute a throw.

    (4) FEEL FOR A SWING - With a clearer mind and an ELS swing, you now have a better chance of hopefully finding a repeating swing. This is the hardest part of my advice to give to a golfer, because different golfers think about their swings differently. I suppose the most universal advice on finding your swing is to be calm, and aware of yourself, your body, and your surroundings. It's like losing your keys just as you need to leave for work. Try not to frantically zoom all over the house all freaked out. Take a step back and calmly think: where did I last remember having my keys; or maybe the keys are where they are supposed to be and I need to look really well in that area; or, don't I have a spare set of backup keys? Giving up precious minutes of time that you don't have, in order to think the problem through, is often more productive than flying around the house yelling NOT ON THE TABLE, NOT BY THE PHONE, NOT IN MY COAT, NOT IN THE BATHROOM? YAAAAAAAAGGGHGHGHHGH! The other piece of advice is that if you find something that even sort-of works, ride that horse all the way past hole 18 and into the parking lot; don't think about jumping on a better horse.

    (5) GIVE UP AGAIN - Sometimes, after you've given up like I've said above, things will start to go right again. This makes sense to me, because, in general, having realistic expectations, playing smart golf, and swinging within yourself, tends to produce good results. So, you sink a lucky long putt, or your 50% shot goes just as far as your previous retard-hero shot, and it felt great and you're thinking; man let me roll the dice one more time, I might be ok now, maybe I can salvage something out of this round. And my answer to that is HEY-LLLLLLL NOOO. Your only goal is to leave the 18th hole without feeling like the stupidest, crappiest golfer that has ever lived. If you can leave the round somewhat sobered up, with a lesson learned, and a modicum of confidence about your next round, that would be fantastic.

    BUT WHAT ABOUT MY SCORE??? You know what? My experience is that my give-up score is generally about the same as my fly-in-the-spider-web-struggle score. But let's say that your give-up round costs you 5 or 10 shots cuz your course is just a big cow pasture with 18 baskets and some wind. So what. Your job now is to NOT fly straight into the web in the next round. While you finish your round with easy swings and clearer thoughts, I think you'll have a lot better chance of figuring out how NOT to get trapped next round. Getting into and out of the Twilight Zone is not about swing mechanics, or course management, it's a state of mind.


    Like I said, I wish I had better advice, but this is the best I have.

    Twilight Zone is a fascinating place, though. I still remember first time I was really in the TZ, maybe 1989. I rolled a hole that had an 8?-foot high chain link fence running along the fairway. The roller climbed the fence and jumped OB. AND THE FENCE WAS TILTED ABOUT 10-15 DEGREES TOWARDS THE FAIRWAY !!!! How is that possible? But in the TZ, ANYTHING is possible.

    TZ adventures would make a good thread, but I gotta go.

  • #2
    Love the Ernie Els analogy I have always told my self before I throw or drive(ball golf) is to" be BIG EZ no sense in killing yourself on this one drive or approach" awesome topic.
    The Frisbee is the mirror to the soul.

    -M. Burns


    • #3
      Originally posted by kurtbayne View Post
      Warning: this is sort-of way out there, and it's a long post to boot. The good news is this will probably be my last long post in a long while.
      One of my disc golf idols (Pinkal) long ago called you one of his disc golf idols. That resonated with me and has stuck. Thank you for explaining why that guy admired a crazy old fart who carried his discs in a busted up cooler. It all makes perfect sense now.
      ďI believe I can hit 18 greens, hit every fairway, you know ó Vision 54, which means you birdie every hole, thatís in the back of my mind. I want to putt better, chip better. That day when I hit 18 greens and one putt, Iíll know Iím a complete golfer. Will that ever happen? Iím not sure, but itís possible. The 54 vision is always in the back of my mind.Ē
      ~Annika SŲrenstam


      • #4
        Originally posted by kurtbayne View Post
        Getting into and out of the Twilight Zone is not about swing mechanics, or course management, it's a state of mind.

        Thank you for this write up. I really enjoyed it.


        • #5
          Amazing and helpful. The next time I'm in the TZ i will remember this. Thanks.
          Nihilists! F@#$ me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.


          • #6
            I had a very personal UNZEN experience recently. I was playing one of the last short parking lot holes. Threw the skip off the lot shot my first drive flashed the basket but finished OB (without actually touching in play). OK throwing three from the tee. Try it again and same results close but never in play. So I proceed to empty my bag twice from the tee 12 total throws 24 strokes. I finally finish the hole and on the next tee another island hole I almost wedgee the drive for an ace scooped it in. from a +25 to almost an ace was at best comical But that's not the topper Last tee has a building about 60 ft in front of the tee OB path around it. I throw my drive and smack squarely on the edge where the roof and wall meet exactly one disc width from edge and land OB. Just as it hits I yell YES! I got to he drop and throw three. triple wide roller that rolls past basket 50' and then OB. Putt is over Picnic table so I try the skip off it Missed the skip but hit the tree next to the basket for a 7.

            Another time I ran out of discs on a hole OB on left that you could not retrieve plastic from during play skinny fairway OB on the right (next fairway) for a cool 16


            • #7
              Originally posted by LJ Jubner View Post
              I had a very personal UNZEN experience recently. I was playing one of the last short parking lot holes. Threw the skip off the lot shot my first drive flashed the basket but finished OB (without actually touching in play). OK throwing three from the tee.
              Thread drift here, but why were you throwing 3 from the tee? Were you playing stroke and distance, USDGC style? A disc does not have to touch the ground to be in bounds.


              • #8
                Thanks for the great write up Kurt. Good lessons for us all.
                Team DISCRAFT
                NW Sign Up
                Gorilla Boy
                Paragon Disc Golf


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scott View Post
                  Thread drift here, but why were you throwing 3 from the tee? Were you playing stroke and distance, USDGC style? A disc does not have to touch the ground to be in bounds.
                  No, but any time Jub touches a disc he picks up 2 strokes.
                  Untwist thine undergarments, 'tis but a Frisbee.


                  • #10
                    When I run into tossing trouble I recall something my Dad would say whenever I complained about this or that.

                    He'd tell me: "I hope that's the worst thing that ever happens to you."

                    It's all about perspective and not taking yourself too seriously.

                    Think of the many people who would love to spend a day in the TZ on a golf course with friends instead of dealing with the real challenges that too many people wake up to day after day.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kurtbayne View Post
                      The good news is this will probably be my last long post in a long while.
                      I am sure I am not alone when I wholeheartedly disagree that this is good news...

                      I would like to copy your posts to the east coast boards with your (assumed) consent.

                      Thanks for making such solid contributions in so few posts.

                      BTW thanks for the Orc you gave away to me at the last Pretzelbowl. It has seen much use.
                      "I love it when a plan comes together" -John 'Hannibal' Smith


                      • #12
                        ELS YEAH!! Kurt, your awesomeness never ceases to amaze! I'd truly love to read 'The Mental Game of Disc Golf', by Kurt Bayne, in collaboration with Ken Climo, Barry Schultz, and Jub Hadley. That was by far the funniest, most insightful, and substantive post I've read to date... #2 & 4 are absolute gems.
                        I would definitely like to echo what Mike said by saying "thank-you sir, may I please have another?"

                        What do you think about going to the UD, Tomahawk, or Thumber when in the TZ? When you mentioned the spare set of keys, it reminded of something I heard you say in regard to putting, and how it's good to have multiple styles at your disposal, so that you can switch up on a particular day when one of those techniques just doesn't seem to be working.

                        "The Mental Game of Baseball" was very helpful to me while I was still playing college ball, and ultimately helped me become a better player. Mike Cain said that his dg game drastically improved after reading a similar book about the mental aspects of putting... he simply applied the principles to his disc golf putt, and KA-CHING!! Perhaps it's time to ask him the title of that book again...
                        Last edited by Toby Puttzinski; December 9th, 2010, 09:51 PM.
                        Don't just walk past that candy wrapper on the fairway-- I know you saw it!


                        • #13
                          great analogies and a super fun read. i know the twilight zone all too well, as i'm sure most of us do. getting past this stage in a round/season can be very very difficult (as again, i have experienced).

                          my other thought that i would add is that if this is happening to you in consecutive tournies, or if you find yourself stuck in the twilight zone (even during practice), is to just take an extended break from the game all together. go bowling, play darts, shoot hoops, practice karate, do the other things in life you are good at and regain confidence in yourself by doing so.

                          also, like jim said, remember that it's just a sport. it's not the end of the world. it will not matter in the future. it's fun.

                          if you're not having fun, then find something else. (cue "the more you know" commercial)
                          May the wind be in your favor...


                          • #14
                            From the mouth of the NW Disc Golf Sage these words young apprentices
                            Disc Golf Accessories


                            • #15
                              Looked at the replies just now
                              Had no idea hundreds of people would read this in a week wow
                              This board is really popular
                              Thanks for your kind thanks and to everyone that read this
                              It took like two hours to write that, I'm a slow writer
                              Toby, by all means use the crappy backup keys, just get the car started.
                              I don't need to write a mental book; there's plenty of good books out now.


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