Distance may not be the end-all be-all of disc golf, but it is important and people do use it as a metric for improvement, especially when working on form. It's important to have a good way to measure distance during practice or a round. UDisc provides this with its Measure Throw feature, which allows you to not only measure the distance of your throw, but also record which disc you threw and where it was thrown on a satellite map.
Simon Lizotte, one of the top players in the world who's well-known for his crushing backhand, recently offered up a great example of how to use this feature in an entry of his quickly-growing Vlog. Here's a clip:
As Lizotte shows in the clip above, the feature is intuitive to use, but people commonly question their smartphone's ability to precisely measure distance. This concern is justified: the margin of error displayed by the phone's GPS system can be alarming.
However, it's actually not difficult to get accurate measurements from your phone. Here's how to get the best results when measuring distance in UDisc.
1. Use the Map
The single most important thing is the blue dot on the map. The center of the dot represents the exact point UDisc will measure from while the halo surrounding it represents how wrong your phone thinks the dot could be. By using your eyes and looking around, you can figure out if the blue dot is exactly where you're standing. If it is, you can safely ignore the margin of error displayed on your screen. The blue dot is the only thing that matters.
The easiest way to be the dot is to find a distinguishing landmark—for example a tree, tee pad, sidewalk, or anything around you which makes an appearance on UDisc's map—and use it as a reference point. When the blue dot lines up with your location based on this reference, tap Set Start to lock it in.
In some cases, it may be difficult to find a reference point. This can be true in dense woods or a field with no terrain features. If that happens, make your best guess and accept the phone's margin of error, but in most other cases (i.e., you are visible from the sky) you can get it right.
2. Location Matters
Your surroundings will have an effect on your phone's GPS accuracy. Your phone uses multiple GPS satellites (at least three) to trilaterate your location. Ideally, there needs to be an unobstructed line between the phone and each satellite. Anything getting in the way will make it harder to get a precise reading. Trees, buildings, your body, and even clothing can obstruct the signal.
With this in mind, if you are struggling to get the blue dot where it should be, try wandering around a bit. Move away from a nearby building or out from under a tree, or try holding the phone further from your body. If the phone can communicate with just one or two extra satellites, the dot may make a jump in the right direction. Again, as soon as the dot crosses where you want it, tap the button to set it.
Narrowing your location to within 10 meters requires a signal from 7 or more satellites, so try to get as much horizon in view as you can.
3. Be Patient
UDisc conserves battery by only using GPS when your phone is unlocked and the app is open. The caveat is that it takes some time for the phone to home in on your location once GPS is enabled. Phones are actually quite fast at this compared to other devices because they are able to use nearby cell towers to jump-start the trilateration process. It should typically take no more than 30 seconds to have a good reading.
Still, 30 seconds is a while to stare blankly at your phone, so we recommend opening the app and navigating to Measure Throw before you actually throw. Leave the phone unlocked in your pocket or resting on your bag, and by the time you've thrown, you should have a good reading.
If you're having trouble getting an accurate reading despite waiting over a minute and moving around, take a look at our article on improving your phone's GPS accuracy. Also, let me emphasize again the significance of the blue dot. The blue dot is all-important.
Once you've used these tips and gotten a perfect measurement from start to finish, there's even more you can do.
After throwing every disc in your bag, you can walk to each one, mark the throw, and move onto the next. UDisc records them all from the same starting location. This is especially efficient when measuring throws during field work or comparing your group's drives off the same tee.
Additionally, when you mark the end of a throw, UDisc gives you a chance to input the disc that you threw. I recommend entering all of the discs in your bag into UDisc ahead of time.
Once you've put your discs in and recorded several throws, you can navigate to the Throws menu and view all your throws ordered by date, distance, or disc. You can also see all of your throws with an individual disc when viewing it in the Discs menu.
Lastly, UDisc's Leaderboards include a Longest Throw category where you can compare your distance to other users. You can also look at the longest throws over various time periods. Switch the filter to Friends Only to see who has bragging rights.
Once you tap Share Throw, UDisc will create an image like the one below. We love seeing how the app is helping people improve, so give us a chance to admire your skills by tagging @udiscapp and #udisc when you share your new personal best!
That's all there is to it. With these tips and a bit of patience, you can confidently measure the distance of your throws and build up some statistics to see your average with different discs. Hopefully these tips help take little bit of the "work" out of your field work.