Should I Throw a Turnover Shot or a Forehand Shot?

Should I Throw a Turnover Shot or a Forehand Shot?

I’m a right hand backhand player, so anytime I come up to a hole that finishes to the right side of the fairway I have to ask myself “Forehand or turnover?”

Turnover backhand and forehand shots are absolutely not the same shot. There’s plenty of good reasons to choose one or the other. This week in the blog I’d like to go over how I make that determination, and how I think you can start making those choices for yourself to improve your game.

There’s a few important factors to consider.

  1. How far is the hole?
  2. Is there enough air space for me to throw my furthest shot?
  3. What’s the most important part of the shot, forward or to the side?
  4. Do I have the right discs to accomplish what I want to achieve?
  5. What’s the ground play like?

#1. How Far is the hole?

With my best distance driver I’m able to throw a comfortable 300 foot forehand shot with my Wraith. I know about where it’s going to go and how it will finish. If I start stretching it out to 325 or 350 by powering up I lose lots of control and make mistakes.

The forehand shot is for accuracy and distance. But it should be a very accurate shot. Find your distance either by measuring with UDisc, or a Bushnell Rangefinder.

Turnover shots can go further for me with more accuracy at long distance. I can hit 350 feet with my backhand turnover with a Leopard3.

So if the hole is far away I’m more likely to use a turnover because that’s a longer shot for me.

#2 Is there enough air space for me to throw my furthest shot?

The great thing about the forehand is that it can go super low to the ground. In a sport that sometimes has limited airspace I find the forehand is my best shot in the woods because of the versatility of the throw.

I tend to make smaller mistakes with the forehand, so I prefer it when there’s lots of trees involved. I’m a conservative player in tournaments. So I often opt for the choice that leaves me the best miss.

If you’re in a situation where you have lots of room to move the disc from side to side (like hole 12 of the Hawk at Sabattus) I recommend you go with the turnover for distance. Get the most distance you can safely get.

#3 What’s the most important part of the shot, forward or to the side?

This is important when deciding my shot because my forehand goes forward, my turnover goes more to the side. So if it’s a real hard dogleg without much distance I’ll throw a turnover shot.

If I have to go forward for most of the flight and just end a little bit on the right side. I’m much better off throwing a forehand that goes straight for most of the flight.

#4 Do I have the right disc to accomplish what I want to achieve?

If I’m playing an unfamiliar course, do I have the right discs for the big turnover shot? I always carry a few forehand discs with me so I can usually throw that. But sometimes there are tight turnover shots that are very slow. I don’t always carry the midrange I might be most comfortable with for that shot.

#5 What’s the ground play like?

The way a forehand thrown disc spins is the opposite direction that a backhand thrown disc spins.

So when the disc hits the ground it’s going to move a different way.

A forehand disc tends to skip to the right when it hits the ground. I believe this is because the disc is naturally moving from left to right.

Backhand discs spin clockwise for the right hand backhand thrower. When they hit the ground they tend to either pop up or cut roll if they’re still coming in hot to the green.

If I’m trying to get further to the side with something like a skip shot, I throw a forehand. If I want something that may cut roll a big I throw a backhand.

Now that we have all of the points covered I want to look at 3 popular holes at Sabattus.

Hole 12 of the Hawk.
Hole 18 of the Hawk.
Hole 13 of the Eagle.

These are all holes where I think you can make a reasonable case for either the forehand or backhand shots.

Hole 12 Hawk.

It’s a long hole so I’m always more inclined to throw a long turnover shot.
The most important thing is to get to the right in my opinion. Straight just brings you further down the hill. You only need to carry past the corner trees, and that’s a hundred feet before it opens up.
There are no trees in the way on the left side of the tee, so you can swing it wide and miss the trees on the right.
The ground play is a field. So you’re not going to skip with a driver and the disc will come to rest pretty close to where it lands.

All of these factors lead me to think that a turnover shot is my best bet. I have the space and distance to get there for a better approach shot.

Check out the video of the hole if you'd like to see what I'm talking about.

Hole 13 Eagle.

This hole has a left to right fairway that ends on a hill. What really adds an element of difficulty to this shot is the hill.

It’s nearly impossible to get something to turn over the whole way and still reach the top of the hill since you’d be throwing up the hill.

The possibility of cut rolling all the way deep into the bushes is real if you land on the hill with some speed. But if you throw a forehand you’re going to check up into the hill and stop.

The most important part here isn’t distance, but accuracy. It’s a 2 shot hole no matter how you slice it. So this is why I tend to recommend the forehand play to folks.

Here's the video of me explaining and driving on the hole to demonstrate the shot.

Hole 18 Hawk

The first thing to look at on this hole is that it’s not just distance out from the tee pad or out to the right. It’s a real mix of both.

This hole is reachable with either a backhand turnover or a forehand shot. I’ve seen (and thrown) everything from a high speed driver to a putter on this shot.

Hole 18 has plenty of airspace on the left side of the fairway. You can swing something out straight or cut it inside. There’s nothing hampering you from hitting the gap other than your mind after 17 holes.

This hole is one of those where I don’t think there is a “best shot” forehand drive or backhand turnover. You can throw a turnover the whole way with some glide and get to the basket, or you can throw a forehand and either stall the shot out to have it dip to the right or skip towards the hole if you opt for a lower shot.

Here's the two ways I play the hole.

Finding a turnover disc for you.

If you’re looking for the right discs for turnovers I recommend something with high glide, and more turn than fade.

Think of your arm speed when choosing your disc!
You won’t be able to flip over a high speed disc to get the full flight if you’re not able to reach that arm speed. Going down in speed to get a big turnover shot is a great way to get your desired shot.

I have some suggestions for you based on your arm speed. I can throw 11 speeds, but you’ll often see me throwing my Leopard3 or Mantra for turnovers because I like the extra torque I can apply to slower discs without my shot stalling and hyzering out.

7 speed Leopard3
8 speed Archangel
9 speed Mantra
11 speed Mamba

If you’re looking for a forehand disc.

You can either go utility forehand with something like the Firebird/XCaliber for guaranteed fade, or you can go with something like the Eagle or Sidewinder for a smoother forehand shot that teaches you flat release.

I’ve got a great blog on starting your forehand shot journey if you’d like to read it here.

Hopefully the next time you come up to a hole that plays left to right you can consider some of my questions to help you determine how best to play the hole for you.

May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397

Streeter (PGDA #70397)

Streeter started disc golfing in 2011 and instantly fell in love with the flight of a disc. He has a degree in Sports Management from the University of Southern Maine and has been blogging for SDG since 2020, He writes about informational disc golf content, editorials, and disc golf entertainment.

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