Tuesday Tips: Utility Shots – Grenade & Scomahawk

Unconventional ways to get up and over

Kevin Jones employs a grenade to make the mando on Winthrop Gold’s 5th. Photo: The SpinTV/YouTube screenshot

Getting up and over obstacles effectively is one of the trickier headaches disc golfers encounter on the course.is one of the trickier things to do effectively and consistently on the disc golf course. Many opt for a more common tomahawk or thumber in those situations, like we discussed in this series a few weeks ago. But, like Dave Feldberg explains in the clinic linked at the end of this piece, sometimes players aren’t as comfortable with overhand throws, or they are rightfully concerned about injuring their shoulder or back.

Luckily, there are other options. The grenade and scomahawk are two different kinds of up-and-over utility shots that have their basis in backhand driving form and will put relatively less stress on your body. A grenade1 derives its name from the characteristics of its flight, where the disc almost literally flies like a tossed explosive, while the scomahawk’s moniker is a combination of scoober — an often used term that in some ways has become a catch-all adjective for all upside-down Frisbee throws — and tomahawk, which the flight of this shot closely resembles.

Grip

Grenade – Hold the disc as if you were going to throw a backhand drive, except flip the disc upside-down and put your thumb on the inside of the rim and the rest of your fingers on the flight plate. You can tuck your index finger over your thumb for some added grip pressure if you feel the disc comes out early with just your thumb.

Grenade grips.


Scomahawk – Use whatever grip you would typically use while throwing a backhand roller. For most players this will be a standard power grip.

Footwork

The footwork for both of these utility shots works the same way that it does for a standard backhand throw. For a scomahawk, the footwork is more akin to what you would do if you were throwing a backhand roller, specifically approaching the tee pad, or your lie, diagonally from right to left (if you are right handed), like Simon Lizotte does here on hole 5 at the 2017 PDGA Pro World Championships:

Lizotte Scomahawk GIF

A properly thrown grenade tends to start and finish very straight, going up in the air and back to the ground directly in front of the thrower. So, in terms of footwork, you should employ a standard X-step that you would use for any backhand throw, making sure to approach your lie in line with your target.

For an example, watch how Kevin Jones approaches his lie in line with where he wants his grenade to land on Winthrop Gold’s 5th during round two of the USDGC:

Jones USDGC Grenade GIF

Arm Motion

Most disc golfers are at least vaguely familiar with a standard backhand drive, if not outright preferring it to all others. That’s exactly where to start if you’re interested in using either of these throws, but there is one crucial adjustment you have to make for both: Because the objective for each shot is to get up and over an obstacle, both require you to reach back downward and follow through up and high. Neither throw will work if you reach back and follow through on a flat plane.

Both shots must be thrown relatively hard and fast, but also with smooth, controlled movements. In terms of the grenade, the disc will want to get to the ground quickly, so throwing it high and hard gives it a chance to clear whatever obstacle you’re faced with. A scomahawk should flip and pan out in the air like an overhand shot, so it too must be thrown relatively hard to achieve that flip.

Where To Use It On The Course

The clips of Lizotte and Jones, as well as the demonstrations in the videos linked below, show how helpful these shots can be to avoid obstacles. Lizotte and Jones, in particular,  show two more aspects of their usefulness.

Jones used the straight-up and straight-down nature of the grenade to avoid erring right and bringing the mandatory pole, which was near his intended flight path, into play. The choice to go with a grenade also took any potential trouble brought by a left-to-right forehand throw out of the picture, as he had a relatively tight angle to deal with.

Lizotte uses a scomahawk here to avoid the tight lines through the trees straight in front of him, but also to play this severely down-sloped fairway. A scomahawk that flips and pans out will fall straight down since the high speed stability part of the flight has ended after it flips. This allows Lizotte to avoid throwing past the pin with an air shot. Additionally, notice at the end of the video clip how the disc slides along the ground.

Which Discs To Throw

Grenade – Typically more stable-to-overstable drivers and fairway drivers are preferred, in part because added glide or flip is not something you’re looking for with shot. You want the disc to stay vertical and get to the ground quickly after clearing an obstacle.

Scomahawk – This shot requires a very, very beat up driver or fairway driver that was probably already pretty understable to begin with. Since this shot must be thrown high, it needs to be thrown hard with a worn in disc to achieve a flip-and-pan in the air and not just turn into a severe anhyzer.

Additional Resources & Video

Miles Seaborn demonstrates the grenade:

Miles Seaborn Grenade Video

As does Nikko Locastro:

Locastro Grenade Video

Dave Feldberg shows off the scomahawk:

Feldberg Scomahawk Video

Have you tried out either of these throws before, or have any tips of your own about them? Drop a comment below to start the conversation.


  1. Sometimes grenade shots are also called a scooby or scoober, but there are so many variations of what a scooby shot could be (like I said earlier, it’s almost become a catch-all term for nearly all “upside-down” shots) that, for simplicity’s sake, and because of the flight pattern of this shot, we’re sticking with calling it a grenade here. 

  1. Alex Colucci
    Alex Colucci

    Alex Colucci is a writer for Ultiworld Disc Golf. He is a disc golfer currently living in Northeast Ohio who teaches geography sometimes. Contact him at colucc43@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter.

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