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Team Discraft's Elaine King

Elaine King / Team Discraft NAME: Elaine King  
HOMETOWN: Durham, NC
PDGA #: 3090
2012 PDGA RATING: 953
day gig: Product Quality Head for Ointments, Creams and Liquids in the mftg div, GlaxoSmithKline.
BORN: 1961
CONNECT:    Triangle Area Women's DG
STARTED IN DISC GOLF: 1983
King of the Mountain:
  • Five-time Women's World Champion (1991 - 1994, 1997)
  • 2012 US Master Women's Champion
  • 2009 Women's Pro Master World Champion
  • 2007 Women's US Disc Golf National Champion
  • 2nd, 2007 Players Cup
  • 2005 Women's US Disc Golf National Champion
  • PDGA Commissioner 1990
  • Secretary, Disc Golf Foundation inception - present
  • Canadian Women's Champion (for about the last 20 years)
  • Memorable Disc Golf Moment
    Winning the Women's division of the Peru World Cup in 1987. This was my first major win, netting me a whopping $250 (huge money at the time) and a basket! There were over 20 women competing, including the World Disc Golf Champion and World Overall Champion. I did not know I had the ability to beat these more experienced women, and the win was absolutely unexpected.
    Elaine's Advice For A Better Game
    How To Shake Competitive Butterflies
    In order to drastically reduce your tournament scores, it is critical to learn how to work through nerves, lack of confidence and panic attacks that inevitably occur during competition. Whether you are a novice or a veteran player, you may start the day with butterflies in the pit of your stomach, or you may be ambushed part way through the round with an unexpected shaky feeling as you are about to putt. When this happens to me, I first focus on breathing deeply and slowly. It has been physiologically proven that this will lower your heart rate and relax your muscles. Next, I acknowledge my nervousness and try to let it wash through me. I can't describe it more exactly - it is not helpful to ignore the gnawing anxiety because it still remains, but oddly enough when you completely give into the feeling, it starts to dissipate.

    Continuing to breathe, I then try to focus my mind on one thing. Over the years I have been able to identify how I am most likely to err when I am nervous, and focus on executing that aspect properly. For example, when I get shaky during a putt, I putt nose down and hit the rim. Thus, I need to concentrate on keeping the leading edge of the disc tilted upwards. When I lack confidence in a drive, I will release too late or too early and therefore need to focus on my release point. Reflect on your performance under stress, identify your nervous habits, then focus only on the compensating correction until you feel confident once more.

    Buy What You Can Throw
    Newer players too often try to start with the discs that the 'big boys' use. The novice does not realize that these discs are designed for players who can throw in excess of 450 feet, and therefore are massively overstable. The novice ends up throwing a huge hyzer, not very far, and never ends up learning how to throw straight. Instead, choose a disc that is only slightly stable and learn to control that disc.

    Elaine King / Team Discraft Learn Good Form
    Correct form is essential for maximum distance. The intermediate player has learned how to control the disc and can huck the disc a fair distance, but often has not mastered the finer points of form. It is critical to throw the disc using your whole body, not just your arm. Footwork is extremely important to ensure balance and smooth weight transition between feet. The alignment of your body is key to ensuring a consistent release point and consequently aim.

    Try the following exercise (for a right-handed thrower): Start with your back to the target. Hold your disc out at shoulder height. Step backward with your left foot, keeping the disc in place such that you are moving away from the disc. Then step back with your right foot, planting the ball of your foot. Still keeping the disc in the original position, transfer your weight to the right foot and rotate your right hip to face the target, thereby pulling your shoulder and the rest of your body through. Don't think about the disc or about throwing, that will take care of itself. Continue rotating your hip and shoulder until you are facing the target, your arm has followed through and your chest is sticking out. This form will use your legs and back to throw, rather than just your arm, and will allow you to maximize your distance.

    Keep Your Bag Simple
    There are a bewildering variety of discs on the market. Players tend to accumulate a large number of discs quickly, understandably wanting to try out different discs to see which will work best for them. Unfortunately, this often results in players having one each of 100 types of disc, and actually can inhibit the player from practicing effectively since each disc flies differently. My suggestion is to pick one putter, one approach disc and one or two drivers, and to purchase at least 5 of each. This will allow the player to really get to know the flight characteristics of each disc, and to learn to completely control each disc. The best way to hone skills is not to play rounds, but to repeat a single shot over and over. Practice your 150 foot hyzer shots, 225 foot reverse shot, 75 foot spike hyzer over a bush, etc. You won't just get better at playing your course, but you will get better, period!

    Plan Ahead For Bad Weather
    Playing in hostile conditions is no-one's idea of having fun, but with appropriate preparation you can put in a solid round and gain ground over the competition. First, ensure you are well fed AND carry some complex carbohydrate snacks with you, since the rounds will take more time to complete than usual and you will burn more energy staying warm. Next, you need to plan your clothing choices carefully. Although it may warm up later in the day, if you are shivering your muscles will be cold, and this will manifest itself in erratic aim. Make sure you are warmly dressed at all times. Carry a bag large enough to hold clothes as you shed them during the day.

    If it is raining, or threatening to do so, you may need a change of clothes during the round. I always carry thermal fleece gloves and a winter hat when it is raining, and I keep my right hand in the glove at all times except when I'm throwing. I keep the glove dry by picking up thrown discs with my left hand and I keep myself warm by wearing the hat. I'll also carry a nylon or Gore-Tex jacket along and an extra shirt if there is significant rain in order to effect a mid-round change. It is always a better choice to lighten up on the number of discs and to include more clothes when it's cold or raining.

    Elaine King / Team Discraft Rough Day
    When you are stuck in the rough and your only route out is a few inches above the ground, consider throwing a Z-plastic disc upside down at a 45 degree anhyzer angle. It will skip and slide several times and get more distance than trying to throw an air shot very close to the ground. This is an especially useful shot if you are close to the basket and a few extra feet could bring you close enough to make the putt.

    Better Putting In Wind
    When putting in strong wind, it is even more crucial that the disc be released at the proper angle. Moat of us tend to toss in short putts without much thought, but even 5 footers can miss in gusting or very strong winds. Putt upside down to ensure consistent success with short putts under such conditions. Another great use of an upside down throw is when you are laying up a shot on a downhill slope. This shots is especially useful on bare dirt. Throw the shot upside down to provide greater assurance of where the disc will hit the ground, and to decrease the odds of a roll-away. You will find that you need to throw this shot with more force than you would suppose.

    Final Thoughts
    Like the overwhelming majority of golfers, I am a weekend warrior and not full time on tour. I take my precious weekends and vacation time to play tournaments. If I'm not having fun, then what's the point? Although I'm not perfect, I try to enjoy myself as much as I can, and when I'm having a difficult day I try not to impose my mood on others. Don't focus solely on your results - there's a lot more to the game of disc golf than your score. You will be judged by your peers according to the quality of your companionship rather than your player rating.
    COURSES YOU SHOULD PLAY:
    Course Comments
    Toronto Island
    Toronto, ON
    The course has changed quite a bit over the years but remains tight, challenging and a delight to play.
    Moraine State Park
    Portersville, PA
    Challenging and fun with both open, elevated shots and wooded shots. The course keeps improving with new basket placements.
    Maple Hill
    Leicester, MA
    There is no shot where you can relax and throw. Every throw must be carefully calculated or bad things will happen!
    Seneca Creek
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Love the latest course design! Lots of variety - use trick shots if you have them.
    ICC
    Peoria, IL
    A very tight course with narrow paths between skinny trees. My play on this course was a big factor in my USWDGC wins in 2005 and 2007.
    In The Disc Golf Bag: Drivers
    Disc Comments
    X Avenger
    (170 - 174)
    Once I beat in the X-Avenger a little bit, it flies beautifully when released with a slight anhyzer. The disc always turns back hyzer at the end of the flight and travels a long way. I have a few really beat-up Avengers for long slow hyzer shots.
    ESP Avenger SS
    (170 - 175)
    No need to break in this disc - it flies perfectly right out of the box, keeping a dead straight line. Turns over in a reliable line, shelfing nicely when released high with a strong anhyzer line. Works best in windless conditions - when windy I turn to the X-Avenger.
    Tsunami
    (167 - 172)
    I carry a Tsunami when it is very windy, or when I need to make a big hyzer air or skip shot. I can confidently throw the Tsunami in all wind conditions and know that it will slice through the wind and gain good distance. Good for cut-rollers.
    X Stratus
    (170 - 175)
    A great disc for playing tight, woodsy courses. Right out of the box it will fly straight with an anhyzer fade. As it gets used, it will start turning over harder, but this works to your advantage - throw it hyzer then watch it straighten out and finally fade, effectively sneaking down tight alleys. I like the small rim on the Stratus.
    Z Surge SS
    (170+)
    Since Surge SS has a wide rim I need to use a slightly different grip. I need room to throw this disc effectively so only carry it on courses where there is wide open space (not many in North Carolina!). The Surge SS provides maximum distance for me.
    In The Disc Golf Bag: Midrange
    Disc Comments
    Pro D Comet
    (177)
    I have a stash of old Comets in the original plastic. They fly very straight, and once beaten in have a slow right fade. I love the feel of the old plastic and have taken to using the Comet as my main approach disc. I will throw a Z Comet in windier conditions.
    ESP Meteor
    (170+)
    I have really taken to the Meteor in the last year. When thrown flat it will fly straight and take a hard right turn at the end. When thrown with a bit of hyzer it will keep the line. It has lots of float and gets good distance with lots of control. It is like a longer-flying version of the Stratus, but more durable and reliable.
    X MRV (discontinued
    (173 - 175)
    I still have a few MRVs and will use them until my supply runs out. Good straight flyer, works well in clam and windy conditions.
    Z storm (discontinued)
    (170+)
    I have a few Z Storms left and absolutely love the straight flight. This is a "tweener" disc where I need more than a mid-range but less than a driver. The Storm is responsible for many deuces on my scorecard.
    In The Disc Golf Bag: Putt and Approach
    Disc Comments
    D Magnet
    (170 - 175)
    I carry a slightly beat in Magnet for putting and a new Magnet for approaching.


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