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Team Discraft's Scott Papa

Scott Papa / Team Discraft NAME: Scott 'Papa Tart' Papa  
TEAM: Masters
PDGA #: 10099
BORN: 1962
day gig: Department manager at Home Depot and co-owner of Hyzer Farm
disc Cred:
  • Top 10 in Masters at Worlds 5 of the last 7 years
  • 1st, Masters div, 2007 Great Lakes Open NT
  • 7 first place finishes in 2006
  • Instructional Editor, Flying Disc Magazine
  • Instructional Editor, Discgolfer Magazine
  • memorable disc golf moment:
    I would have to say that here were a few important accomplishments in my career. Getting my first pro win in 1996 at Rockford, IL was huge for me. I was constantly the person who was first out of cash so this was a big step for me.
    My first B-tier win came at Hudson Mills in 1997 at No Foolin' and it was especially memorable as I had never seen the course before and I hadn't slept for 30 hours before the event. Add to that the great competition and it was a big win.
    Taking 5th in Masters at the 2003 Worlds was huge for me as I had never even cashed at World's before. That was an icebreaker and I haven't looked back since.
    But possibly my favorite win may just be the Channahon Classic of 2002 in Channahon, Illinois. It is run by my hero and Hall of Famer Gary Lewis. I had taken 2nd so many times in his events that I started to wonder if I ever would win one, especially after moving to the West coast. But we flew back to visit family and I was able to play in the event and finally taken home an Open first place in a Gary Lewis tourney....awesome.
    Besides events, without trying to sound totally cheesy my other major accomplishments would be 1) Convincing the coolest lady in the world to marry me and keep me around for over ten years (Jeanne is the best!), 2) Being awarded Courageous Citizen of the Year for Los Angeles County in 1994 (now there's a story), and 3) Being put on Team Discraft (I have the greatest disc golf family in the world and I am honored to be a part of the Team).
    Pro Clinics Featuring Scott:

    Discraft Pro Clinic: Approach Basics

    Discraft Pro Clinic: Throwing Basics

    Discraft Pro Clinic: Putting Basics

    Discraft Pro Clinic: The Overhead Shot

    Scott's Advice For Lower Scores
    Scott Papa is a prolific disc golf coach and instructor. For more of his disc golf guidance, see his regular column in DiscGolfer Magazine, where he serves as Instructional Editor.

    Believe it or not, you may be playing too many rounds of golf. The best way to improve your game in any sport is through practicing the fundamentals. Take time to work out by throwing drives, upshots or putts, but not in a game setting. You will get a much better feel for your discs and shots through repetition. After these practice sessions then you're ready to hit the course and lower your score.

    Maximize Your Flight:
    The toughest thing for a new player to learn is how to throw a disc to maximize its flight. The reason for this is that generally they are playing with all of their friends who just picked up the game also. Because of this they often don't get to see a properly thrown disc and start to pick up some bad techniques.

    When first starting to throw remember to keep the arm motion of your disc on a flat plane. There are two common problems for the beginner that make this difficult: The first is that the off arm (the one without the disc) is still in front of the body so that makes the player start low and end high with their throw. If you pull that arm back not only will it get out of your throwing arm's plane but it will also help your shoulders rotate around to get more power that you were missing with the arm in front.

    The second problem would have to be weight distribution. All too often the learning thrower gets leaned back on the back foot to generate power for the big toss. Unfortunately this dips the rear shoulder and the throwing plane again goes straight up and major distance and straightness of throw are lost. Transfer that weight to the front foot and it is almost impossible to throw the disc at an upward angle. These are a couple of quick tips that will add quick distance and keep the flight much straighter. Yes, some of the problem may be disc selection but the chances are the reason it is turning too quick is that the disc is goin up instead of forward.

    Scott Papa / Team Discraft Increase Your D:
    For the intermediate player that already has a decent grip on throwing technique the answer to more power is not always the same. More often than not I will notice that a person struggling to get that extra distance is 'arming' the disc rather than 'snapping'. Make sure that as you come through on your pull that the elbow is breaking and the disc is coming on a straight line through you pull. The finish should be a snap and have a follow through that can't and shouldn't be stopped. Also, remember that the strongest muscles in your body are your legs so utilize them. This doesn't mean run fast, but rather explode in that weight transfer and really get your hips into the motion. Flexibility and snap equals major distance.

    Putting Made Easy:
    I often hear players making a statement that goes something like this: 'If I could just make all of my putts within 20 feet I would win so many tournaments.' I then ask 'How much putting practice do you do and from what distances?' At this point the conversation usually breaks down and the person needs to call his girlfriend or something.

    There is no easy way about it, putting is all about practice. Yessir, mind numbingly repetitive, boring practice. While all of your friends are out playing another round and throwing around 30 putts in two hours you will have the opportunity to throw about 1000 putts in an hour. Sounds excessive? I used to think so but I love nothing better than playing a round and hearing comments from my group like 'He's a machine. Great, it's inside thirty, another gimme for Papa. You could miss every once in a while just so we know you can.' Yeah, it's boring until you have drilled so much on practice days that when you get into a tournament that the basket seems huge from 30' and you don't even think about 20' putts. An added bonus is that it puts pressure on the other players because you haven't even put yours in yet and they already feel that you will. Practice putting instead of playing rounds and it will pay off. And practice the short ones most because that is where you will putt from the most. Miss a 60 foot putt in a round and it really doesn't hurt your psyche, but doink a couple of 20 footers and sometimes it really hurts.

    Throwing As Good As You Look:
    Finally, I carry as many fly dyed discs as I can. This is important because I think that having cool discs makes you throw better. Why? Because when you pull out that cool dye job and everyone says, 'Cool disc' the last thing you want to do is throw a crappy shot. This makes me concentrate even harder on tossing a winner.

    Don't Always Throw for the Basket
    This is something that is especially critical on wooded courses or where the basket is blocked by obstacles. If you are in the rough off of the fairway and are looking to throw to the basket, you don't always need to try and get to the pin. Remember, you are an EXCELLENT putter and can use this to your advantage. Instead of trying to thread the needle between to trees to land under the basket, it will probably be much safer and have a higher percentage of success if you throw around those trees and land close to the basket. I would much rather throw a shot that I have a 99% chance of getting about 25' from the basket instead of throwing a shot that I have a 40% chance of making to land within 10 feet of the basket. The payoff of risk is just not there when you are going to end up still needing to putt it in anyway. Play the safer shot and rely on your skill as a putter!

    Putting for Rhythm
    This is near and dear to me as I rely on putting to keep up with everybody. Many people love to say 'Drive for show, putt for dough'. I just like to say 'If you are a great putter, then you can mess up a lot more on drives and nobody notices'. One of the keys to practicing putting is developing rhythm and muscle memory. To do this you need to take time out to practice and you need some equipment. Both of these thoughts are generally not want people want to hear but it's the truth. You have to actually allocate time to practicing putting instead of playing (like in 30 minute blocks) and you should have 5 to 10 of whatever putter you are using. You need to have these putters so that you can practice multiple shots in a row to define your throw, develop a rhythm and assess any mistakes you are making. Throwing two putts and then walking to the basket to walk back to take two more just doesn't give the repetition needed instill your motion in your muscles. A minor investment will go a long way in the advancement of your game.

    The Run Up
    Let's talk about the importance of a run-up on your throw. Now most people feel most comfortable when utilizing a run up as it gets the body in motion and also helps to get your body into the position where it has the most potential for speed and power. That being said, many people are held back by their run up and the baggage that it brings with it. Here are the two main problems with the run ups that I see used.

    THE RACER - It amazes me to watch the golfers that insist on getting at the back of the tee pad and once they start their run up they are very literal and RUN up. While this does add a small amount of speed to your throw, the accuracy that is lost in trying to get you timing down usually is not worth the price you pay. The idea of an approach to your throw is to get the body turning through leg positioning so that you may generate the power needed to get those big throws. Slow down that approach and concentrate on a fast finish with the lower and upper body working together in a last moment blast to combine both power and accuracy.

    THE EXPLORER - I know you have seen this guy. He's the one that even if the tee is 37 feet long, he still starts off the back and after 14 steps is almost ready to get into a throwing position. Not only does this make it difficult to attack some tee pads, if this is a player's normal approach, sometimes it makes it impossible. I remember at the Arizona Worlds where the temp course at SnowBowl had temp tees that were 10 feet long-MAYBE-and they dropped off 4 feet behind as they had been built up on the sides of ski runs. Most of the players were confused as to how to throw and the scores showed their frustration. The fact of this matter is that once again, less is better. Three steps is all you truly need to get the body into the right positioning for a true drive. If you can work on this and perfect, any tee pad will be large enough for you and it will aid your game immensely.

    So take these tips and put them together and what do you get? A nice short run up that is slow and deliberate until the moment of truth when you unleash that accurate bomb (or is it a Nuke?). Practice these tips and you will feel more confident and comfortable not just every time you prepare to drive, but also on your approaches. Keep it short, simple and slow and it makes it much easier for your brain to control that last moment of exertion.
    Course Comments
    Mc Naughton
    Peoria, IL
    A hidden gem filled with elevation, water, hidden baskets and brutal rough. Any round under par is an accomplishment.
    Shelton Springs
    Shelton, WA
    Washington's newest course and it is incredible. With a pro par of 63 (including three legitimate par 5's) this course absolutely rocks. With a great combination of woods and open holes, not to mention righty/lefty fairness, the design is darn near flawless.
    Quakertown, PA
    Over 9000 fee of technical disc golf. A true test of skill and all shots!
    Olalla, WA
    Now even longer at 4600' this course will take anyone's game and test every shot. Because of this course I have been able to improve my game immensely without ever getting into a car. Home course advantage? You bet!
    Middle, Richmond Hill, Prospect and Longview
    Quad Cities, IL/IA
    Okay, so maybe it's not one course but if I had a day to play disc golf and four courses to do it on this would probably be the place. Everything the Midwest has to offer is right here on four unique courses. Thanks to Justin and John for showing me the light on this great day trip.
    In The Disc Golf Bag: Drivers
    Disc Comments
    ESP Crank
    Man, I am stoked about this disc. While the Nuke has been great for the big bombs (okay, I didn't mean to make that pun so go ahead and groan...) I had always wished for something that I could feel a little more technical control on and this is it. With the slightly smaller yet deeper rim, it just gives me that extra feel of power matched with control. When I'm on the course with friends they say it looks like I am just throwing my Surge, but going way faster and farther. Yep, that's how it feels to me too, and I am digging it!
    Yip-whoa-hey this bad boy wants to hunt baskets that I thought I had lost the distance to get to. Even with the wider rim, the boys in the backroom were able to keep the rim deep enough so that there is still a great grip on it. Once it pops out of that grip it is off to the races fast and holds a great straight line with more glide than I would have imagined at the end of the flight. It still finishes strong but not in an overly stable fashion. I am excited to have this in the bag and know that it will get some strokes for me in the upcoming season that I would have missed before!
    X NUKE
    While the ESP Nuke is not going to leave my bag, the X Nuke has taken some of its playing time away. The grip is incredible and the flight has a bit of a turn to it instead of just straight and long. The end result? I consistently throw the X version 20 to 30 feet further. Get lower in weight for crazy long turnover drives. Give those turns enough height and they will come back for super long distance throws. Fun to the nth degree!
    ESP Force
    This is now my big hyzer disc. If I have a shot at a basket from 300 to 375 it will probably be executed with the Force. While I used to stretch this out to the 400 foot range, the Nuke has now taken over the duties of the longer throws of the hyzer variety so my Force will be able to concentrate on the moderately lengthy shots. This has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years now and has never been anything but a consistent drive that does what I want every time. When I need to launch something on a hyzer line, have it hold but get great distance penetration then that is when I turn to the Force!
    ESP Surge
    The moment this disc came out it has been flying for me like no other. It has a great flight for almost any drive that I need to make, especially the big, straight crushes with just a bit of hyzer at the end. I'm not a huge gun but if the hole is anything under the 450' range I now feel that I can reach it with an accurate golf shot. I will use this predominantly as my driver on anything that is mostly straight and I love throwing the big anhyzer with it. The wide rim is still deep enough to really rip into the turnover and with the right height it will fly forever until gently coming out at the end. I currently carry two of these and have just added the FLX to the bag. In the cold weather this thing has an incredible feel and still maintains the same flight path. Depending on how it feels as it warms up this may not even leave the bag then!
    ESP Avenger SS
    This was the disc that I had been waiting for. A truly great driver for those big turnover shots that hold a turn without turning over and goes far at the same time. What else can I say, I rip it flat at speed and I get that turn that I need for all of those courses that are obviously designed by left-handed players. What I really like about it is that as it is slowing down at the end of the flight it then flattens out enough to not roll away at the end. The other thing I love about this disc is that it is probably the disc that I have put in more peoples hands that have a hard time with discs 'hyzering out' too much and watched them turn into driving machines. A great beginner to intermediate straight driver and awesome power turnover/roller disc. This thing rocks.
    Z Tracker
    This is a great disc. It is like a hybrid disc between the lip sizes of the old school and the new school. Because of this I get the feel and controllability of an XL but a speed that more resembles the Crush. If I need to hit a straight gap or keep something in a fairway without it hyzering in hard and skipping away this is the disc I turn too. Also, when put on a turnover this disc holds the line better than any other driver I throw. This became a major disc in my bag after all the confidence I gained with it while throwing into the wind at Player's Cup in 2005 and knowing it would hold the line and not stray at the end of the flight.
    Z XL
    This is an old favorite and I still consider it to be my most controllable driver. With its comfortable rim and deliberate flight, this disc just doesn't allow you to make big mistakes. Used for shots from 300 to 375 feet. While at Worlds, I had a competitor look to see what I was getting ready to drive with. He said 'Oh, that red one again. Hurry up and throw it right down the middle again so the rest of us can see how it's done.' Yep, it's that consistent. A great driver for those just getting into the game. The Tracker has taken some of the drive away from the XL but I still hit days where nothing is flying for me quite like the XL. It's days like that that I always wonder why I throw anything else.
    Z Flick
    The Flick allows me to appear to be in possession of a decent forehand. With its slim profile it feels great and it's overstable enough to take any forehand turnover I put on it. Excellent for any forehand shot from 150 to 325 feet. I also use this for my tomahawks and thumbers. I have been slowly but surely also making this my spike hyzer disc.
    X Stratus
    I've been throwing the Stratus since 97 for turnover shots up to 325 feet. I love using this disc because when I throw it everyone thinks I missed my line but then it turns the wrong way. An absolutely critical disc for my game. This is also the disc I would recommend for beginners or anyone having trouble throwing straight. It's the best disc to start with and to get used to throwing. I especially dig the early versions of the disc when it was made in the old 'Cyclone' plastic. These are the ones I generally tend to throw from the circa 1997-98 era. If you happen to need to get rid of any of those first run ones you could always send them to your favorite funky haired Discraft team member...
    In The Disc Golf Bag: Midrange
    Disc Comments
    ESP Buzzz
    This disc is the greatest midrange that a person can own and has even made me mostly forget how much I miss the MRV. The Buzzz is the disc that I will have with me that I can execute nearly any shot with and know exactly what that disc is going to do. Deadly accurate and amazingly forgiving of sloppy throwing techniques (not me, I mean I've seen other people throw sloppy, yeah that's what I mean) so that even when you make mistakes this disc helps by not accentuating them. Whether thrown at slow speed or fast, a nice straight thrower with just a light finish at the end that makes all your shots look simple.
    Z Buzzz SS
    The STRAIGHT version of the Buzzz. I was totally floored by how STRAIGHT this disc flew. When thrown STRAIGHT at a basket it just took off on this totally STRAIGHT line and when it lost speed and descended slowly and STRAIGHT to the ground it landed flat and the slid STRAIGHT toward the basket. Did I mention how STRAIGHT this disc is? Well, if I didn't, trust me that I have never thrown a disc that is more accurately STRAIGHTER than this one. Now just make sure that you aim it correctly and you are on your way to being the next World Champ!
    ESP Meteor
    This is the disc that gives me the slower and longer turnover that I need when the Stratus turns too fast. I can let this go flat and hard for a long, continuous turn or start it with a little hyzer to hit that straight tunnel and fade right at the end. Why throw left handed when this disc takes care of so many left to right shots? Now if I can just remember how far the darn thing goes when I throw it... it is a midrange, right?
    In The Disc Golf Bag: Putt and Approach
    Disc Comments
    Swirl APX
    (172 - 174)
    I carry two of these discontinued gems and they are the ones you will see in my outside pockets. The one in the side pocket is for throwing and the one in the front is for putting. This way the putting one never gets those nasty tree bites. You can't get the Swirl version anymore, but the Soft APX is pretty close. I use the Swirl for throws up to 200' when it's either a straight or turnover shot. I don't expect a big hyzer out of this disc. The putter is used for putts only and is my favorite for feel, stability and chain grabbing. This is the most important disc in the bag because without the confidence in the putting game, I wouldn't card any of the great scores and wins that I have.
    FLX Challenger
    (173 - 174)
    This is my overstable short game disc. I use it for shots up to 200' that are pure hyzer or shots that need to finish with an overstable ending. It may also come out for heavier headwind putts. It has to be the most predictable putter-style disc that I have ever thrown.
    X Soft Banger GT
    (173 - 174)
    Okay, so when I first held this disc I couldn't figure out whether it was brilliant or nutsy. Then I thought, 'Hey, that's what people think of me!' So I tried it and now it is in the bag for good. I use this for upshots up to 200 feet where i don't have a bunch of room to work with and need a straight shot. I love the thumb groove for that 'lived-in' feel right out of the box. Give this disc a try and you will see how easy it is to throw and control on a great straight line.
    X Soft Focus
    (173 - 174)
    I have been using it for hyzer putts, headwind putts and throwing for straight shots up to 200 feet. Although I haven't gotten the total feel for it yet, this disc is so easy to throw and very reliable to putt with, I keep liking it better every day. It's a keeper!

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