Trees suck sometimes…especially on the disc golf course. First you hit one tree, then another, and pretty soon, you’re out of discs on your bag because of how many times you just threw that first tee shot. I know I’ve had my fair share of frustrating rounds in the woods. It kind of seems like the trees are plotting against us sometimes. And they all band together to just make it impossible to play through.
But trees are just a natural part of disc golf. And if you want to get better and master disc golf in the woods, you have to learn how to play through all the bark, branches, and tree-jections that are all a common part of every disc golfer’s most frustrating rounds on the course. Today, we’re going to look at some awesome tips on how to start avoiding those trees and begin your journey to becoming an expert disc golfer in the woods. But before we get into those tips, check out the funny video below on the best tree hits.
7 tips for avoiding the trees
Now let’s get into the 7 best tips for avoiding trees in disc golf. Good luck!
1. Don’t think about hitting them
This is the biggest tip I can give you, making it #1 in my book. Most players have the mindset, “I’m going to aim right at that tree because, you know, I won’t hit it anyways.” Well, that’s the wrong mindset. You should never try to aim directly at a tree, even if it’s the only one dead straight in front of you.
Have you ever heard of the law of attraction? In short, it’s a way of thinking that basically says, “if you think it, it will happen.” So if you think about hitting the tree, you will hit the tree. If you’re nervous over a small gap, and you keep thinking about not hitting the tree, you’ll still hit the tree. Even if it’s a tiny little tree…it can still happen ⬇️.
Instead, change your mindset. Even though there will be trees all around us, just play. I know it may be difficult if you’re playing on a course that’s riddled with trees. But focus on having a good round. Tell yourself that the next shot will be perfect. Think about being a good player and throwing well. If you play without worry, you’ll probably play a lot better. That’s what happened to me.
2. Don’t let them get to you
Here’s a thought for you – you’re going to hit trees during your rounds. Let me say it again…YOU’RE GOING TO HIT TREES. It will happen. Don’t let those hits and ricochets get to you or get into your head. Just do your best to laugh it off and stay positive. Forget about that last bad throw and keep playing.
3. Disc down
Another great tip for attempting to tackle those challenging wooded courses is to disc down to a mid-range or even a putter. I would take everything in your bag over a seven speed and put it to the side for those courses with a sh*t ton of trees.
Fast discs are meant to fly the distance. And that’s not the goal on heavily-wooded courses. The goal is control. First off, mid-range discs and putters won’t fade as much on you. They probably stay a bit straighter. Also, these discs won’t bounce as much off trees. Fast discs tend to ricochet and fly forever. Whereas slower discs usually clunk and drop. That’s what you want for the woods. Lastly, putters and mid-range discs are usually more controllable. Some will disagree with me on this, but these should be your go-to discs for woods play.
For some great putters and mid-range discs, check out the following posts below ⬇️.
4. Keep throws low
Now this isn’t the most important tip on this list, but keeping your discs low can help if the disc ricochets wrong off of a tree. Your throw will be a bit lower so it won’t be prone to flying quite as far off the path.
5. Don’t try to throw too hard
Again, we’re playing in the woods and we don’t want our disc ricocheting 400 feet the wrong way. Yeah, I think we’ve all seen that one. You know, the ricochet flying farther than any disc you’ve ever thrown in your life.
For this, though, I suggest only throwing at about 60% to 70% power. Ease off your throws a bit and this should help you with both ricochets and your control through the trees.
6. Aim for something, then focus on hitting your line
Remember when I said “don’t aim for the trees.” That’s still true, but I want you to do something else while playing through a heavily-wooded course – aim for something down range. Whether it’s the basket or other obvious marker, pick a spot where you want your disc to go and burn that target into your mind. Think: shot placement. This can help you a bit when you actually go to throw.
When you do step up to the teepad with target in mind, the next step is to focus on hitting your line, or the line in which the disc will fly after it leaves your hand. Don’t makes this too complex. Just relax, focus, visualize the line you want your disc to fly, and throw. That should do the trick.
For some awesome woods play, check out the following videos below ⬇️. James Conrad’s Ace on hole 9 at Idlewild Disc Golf Course in Burlington, Kentucky, is a true display of woods mastery.
The next video is a really awesome woods round by Barry Schultz and other pros at the 2016 Carolina Clash at the Nevin Disc Golf Course in Charlotte, North Carolina.
7. Play it super safe
The next tip, if you’re not quite as good of a player yet, or you don’t quite have the control to experiment during woods play, is to play everything as safe as humanly possible. In this regard, I tell people to play “oversafe,” or just so safe that you cant really even hit any trees. Now you still will hit some trees but avoiding them like the plague is the key to this tip.
Normally when we all play, there’s a thing called “laying up” where we play it safe to try and get the disc to the basket for an easy putt (instead of taking the risk and trying to sink the risky putt from far out). This concept is similar except it’s being used for throwing through the woods. Simply play trees as wide as possible, explore safe line options for your throws, or less wooded shots, and just be on the lookout for the lines that absolutely won’t hit any trees. This way we have easy access to our next shots and can have safe options to get to the basket.
8. Learn multiple throws
Next up, your ability to learn an understanding multiple different throws on the disc golf course. This is really important, especially when playing on heavily-wooded courses. You’re going to have to explore new lines and make difficult shots that can and should be alleviated using alternate throwing techniques. If you’ve got a really tough backhand shot, but your forehand is easier, I hope that you know how to throw forehand.
Besides making sure to know forehand throwing, learning how to throw overhand can be a huge help as well. Tomahawks and Thumbers can be really useful in the woods, as the disc can be thrown vertically and can improve chances of slicing through trees without impact. Knowing rollers can have the same affect, as the disc can roll and slice through many trees on it’s way toward the basket.
The following overhand videos can help you understand how to throw Tomahawks and Thumbers.
The following forehand videos can help you understand how to master forehand.
The following rollers video can help you understand rollers a bit more and how to throw them effectively.
9. Try the flippy, hyzer approach (Hyzer Flip)
If you’re having trouble in the woods, here’s a quick tip that can help you improve on the course immediately – try the flippy, hyzer approach (also called a Hyzer Flip)
A flippy disc is one that turns over, or flips over, after it is thrown. For a RHBH thrower, a flippy disc will turn considerably to the right. Even if you put a hyzer on the disc, it will still turn over to the right a fair amount.
A hyzer throw, if you don’t know, is when the top of the disc is facing away from the thrower and the disc turns to the left for a RHBH thrower.
So for this example, a RHBH disc golfer throws a hyzer, and the disc should keep turning to the left. But the flippy disc that is used makes the disc straighten out and turn slightly to the right. After it’s all said and done, you should have almost a straight disc flight. That’s what the Hyzer Flip does. One easy way to try and improve your game immediately during your heavily-wooded rounds.
For one of the flippiest discs on the market, check out the awesome Innova Mamba here on Discgolfunited.com.
10. Improve accuracy (off the course)
Our tip #10 involves your ability to improve off the course. With this, there’s one skill that you need to work on time and time again: that’s your throwing accuracy. Of course it’s not just important for woods play, but for all your rounds on the course.
First off, check out the video below ⬇️ from Flying-J Disc Golf. It’s a good explanation on how to improve accuracy and hit your line (from our very important tip #6).
Next, check out our post, “The 50 Best Disc Golf Drills to Change Your Game Forever,” and find drills #12, #16, and #17. Those are purely to help you improve your accuracy.
Lastly, technique is a huge factor in maintaining an accurate throw. There are a bunch of great drills in that post that can help you improve your technique.
If you can improve your accuracy off the course, then combine it with a positive mental mindset, use of mid-range discs and putters, keeping throws low, keeping your power down, aiming and focusing on hitting your line, playing it safe, and understanding multiple different ways to throw and succeed, you will undoubtedly become a disc golf expert in the woods.
If you’re looking for a few accuracy tips, check out this post here!
11. Skip those heavily-wooded courses
But if you’re just absolutely fed up with the trees, just skip those super wooded courses. When it’s all said and done, this may not be possible. If you’re playing in a tournament on a wooded course, the best you can do is simply take the advice of the previous ten tips and play on. But if you’re playing casual rounds, and you hate hitting trees just as much as everyone else on the planet, just skip those heavily-wooded courses. My local course, Creekside Disc Golf Park in High Point, N.C., is a ridiculously wooded course that can be really challenging. I go there occasionally to play something different, but most of my time is spent at other, less wooded courses. I just choose to skip that one. And you can do that, too.
If you get stuck in a tree
So what happens if your disc gets stuck up in a tree? Well, there are a couple things. You could end up taking a penalty for this during your round and you also have to find a way to get your disc down. We won’t go over the penalty side of this today. If you want to read about the PDGA rules regarding discs stuck in trees, check out our post, “What if My Disc Golf Disc Gets Stuck in a Tree?” In this section, we’ll go over a couple of good ways to get your disc out of that tree. But first…
Do not use discs!
So our word of caution today is about using other discs to get stuck discs out of trees. DO NOT do this. Why? Well, you’ve already got one disc stuck up in a tree so it’s safe to say that your second disc can be just as sticky. Next thing you know, two of your discs are in need of rescue. Discs are an absolute last resort. Try these next few things instead ⬇️.
Baseballs are the king of getting stuck discs out of trees. In fact, I used a baseball during my last round to get my brother’s disc out of a tree (as seen in the picture above). It took us a few minutes of throwing the ball perfectly straight up in the air about 50 feet, but eventually we got it down. Grab a baseball for your bag here on Amazon.
Similar to a baseball in this situation, a hockey puck is oddly shaped, heavy, and will not get stuck up in a tree when thrown at a disc. I’ve got one of these in my bag as well. You’ll never know when you’re going to need it! Grab a hockey puck here on Amazon.
If you’re physically able to, and the disc isn’t far up, you might be able to scale it and grab it.
If the tree is small enough or thin enough, you may be able to shake the disc out. I’ve done this before on a really skinny, super tall tree and I was able to get my disc. If the tree is larger, you probably can’t shake it.
On most courses, you’ll have access to some woods. If you have no other ways to get your disc, consider using a long stick or branch (along with climbing the tree). This is kind of a last resort kind of option, but if this doesn’t work, consider the last option below.
If you’re at your wit’s end, and you really don’t want to get other discs involved in the equation, you can always go borrow or buy a slingshot. Now this is kind of extreme and could possibly damage your disc, so I would be careful with this one. Grab a Daisy P52 Slingshot here on Amazon for less than $10 bucks.
If you just absolutely have no other option, feel free to use a disc. But if you do this, use an old disc that you do not care to lose (in case that one gets stuck, too). Honestly, I’d rather use an umbrella, water bottle, pinecone, or whatever the hell else I could find to knock my precious plastic back down to earth.
But don’t worry about the trees
Seriously, when it’s all said and done, don’t worry about the trees. Yeah, they’re inconvenient. Yeah, they’re aggravating as hell. And yes, you will hit them. But you’ll play through and have really great rounds through the trees. You’ll learn your own way of mastering rounds through the woods and hopefully be able to play on those tough professional, heavily-wooded courses that we see the best in the world crush every year. Trees are just a part of the game and I can live with that.
For a couple of really awesome and funny disc golf shirts about trees, check out this list of shirts here on Amazon.
Looking for more content? Check out the articles below ⬇️!
Thanks for reading, disc golfers! Don’t forget to…
Check out the book!
Before you go, don’t forget to check out the best beginner disc golf book on the planet, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual.” This ebook is packed with over 200+ pages of the best tips, tricks, and advice for new players
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Special thanks to Reddit user Dyfrke for allowing me to use his picture, “Good Shot Bro,” as the feature in this post. Thanks Bro 🤙.