Before we get going on the benefits of “short siding” yourself in disc golf, let’s first define the term and give some examples of its attributes before we dive too deep into specifics. “Short siding” yourself — in traditional golf — is one of the worst things you can do, yet in disc golf, we believe it is a positive. A golfer “short sides” themselves when they miss their shot on the side of the pin/basket with the least amount of space (and options) between themselves and the hole.
To help create a better picture, let’s use traditional golf as an example since there is a better delineation of “greens” in the sport. Let’s imagine a traditional golf green that is 30 yards deep and 20 yards wide with a pin that is tucked only 15 feet from the front left edge. Greens are mowed very short with a “collar” or fringe similar to the length of grass found in the fairway before turning to rough, which is a longer thicker grass that usually punishes players by its complexity to hit out of — especially in high “feel” situations like shots around the green. Now let’s imagine that there is a bunker that runs along the entire left hand side of the green. To the right hand side of the green is nothing but 3” thick rough and a couple undulations in topography.
In this example, “short siding” yourself would be if the golfer missed the green to the left. Not only is there a bunker on the left hand side that presents a very difficult shot, but there is only 15’ feet of green to work with between you and the hole. So wherever your ball comes to rest to the left of the green, you have to get the ball up and out of its lie, land on a 15’ sliver of green and make the ball sit before running too far past the hole leaving the player with a long, improbable putt for par. “Short siding” yourself is extremely bad in traditional golf because it typically leaves the player with the least amount options, an increased sense of risk and a low probability of getting up and down. Worse yet, what happens if you muff your chip 5’ after you “short side” yourself? Now you are STILL “short sided” and are in the same predicament as before, just one stroke added on to your score.
While smart players with good course management would take the double bogey out of play and simply chip to the middle of the green and two putt for bogey; many don’t. They try the high risk shot of landing it on the sliver of green between yourself and the pin, in the hopes they will make a miraculous par — yet more often than not, they make double bogey or worse. That being said, VERY smart players would never “short side” themselves in the first place. What are the chances of you stuffing your shot into a tucked pin location and making the birdie putt? While many can, chances are slim you will hit the correct shot — or better yet — make the putt when you get there. Good course management skills would tell the player not to mess with such a pin — aim for the heart of the green, two putt for par and take your chances somewhere else because even if the player aims for the heart of the green and misses right, they have the entire green to work with — pitching their ball on the green, letting it roll all the way to the hole and hopefully knocking in their putt for par.
Yet in disc golf, “short siding” yourself is a benefit! Let me explain.
One of the main reasons “short siding” yourself is a benefit in disc golf is due to the fact that the disc travels in the air, and not on the ground! Your disc has to reach a required height to even have the possibility of going in, remember? Let’s look at the adjacent picture as an example for disc golf — imagining that the green is an open field with slightly downhill slope to water just to the right of the basket.
While “short siding” yourself in this scenario would be extremely difficult without going in the water, lets’ still use it as an example since it provides a good point. Imagine that you peeled a Roc in and are 35’ to the left of the basket — essentially “long siding” yourself even though you are pin high. To give yourself a chance at birdie, your disc has to reach a certain height for even the possibility of going in, yet if it misses, needs to sit fast enough so you can make the come backer for par. If it’s too high or too low, it won’t go in, and if it gets out of control, may run down the hill and into the water.
Now let’s look at the true benefit of “short siding” yourself in this scenario. Say you turn an XD over and it lands 15’ to the right of the basket, just shy of the water. Now you have a slightly uphill putt for birdie with nothing but field to the left, right and beyond the basket. If you can’t be aggressive here, you’ll never be aggressive! Aim the disc at the top of the basket, throw it nice and hard and watch it as it dips slowly into the chains. If you have an errant toss and miss, there’s no harm done as anything past the basket is level ground and an easy tap in for par — a juxtaposition to “long siding” yourself and starring at a putt that has a backdrop of a slippery slope down to water.
Let it be known that we don’t encourage you to “short side” yourself whenever possible in disc golf. Think about a hole that runs along the woods with a fairway that is 70’ wide. The hole is tucked along the wood line 300’ ahead. You can “short side” yourself by throwing your drive to the very left hand side of the fairway next to the woods, and have to throw a spike hyzer to the basket instead of “long siding” yourself by hitting the heart of the fairway (or even better, missing further right) and having multiple options to attack the basket with.
Hopefully, you can see that having little “green” to work with in disc golf is usually a better scenario than “long siding” yourself, as if you’re in this spot it usually means you are putting away from trouble and into the heart of safety. Disc golf is an incredibly fun sport, but we urge you to think your way around the course as it’s not always how far you can throw or how many putts you can make, but the shots that you leave yourself with, and constantly increasing your chances at making a good next shot or putt.