Disc golf becomes a life-changer

(Editor’s note: RattlingChains.com welcomes Andre Frederick to the writing crew here. Andre lives in the Pacific Northwest and will provide some interesting commentary about disc golf from his eyes. Welcome Andre to the staff of Rattling Chains!)

By Andre Fredrick — RattlingChains.com Staff

I’ve never been the athletic sort.

My youth saw me as an awkward, chunky lad with limited athletic ability. I tried tennis lessons, and, I even took up junior varsity football, but no sport could maintain my interest. I wasn’t terribly competitive and didn’t find myself motivated to compete against others.

Toward the end of my high school days, I discovered disc golf.

Some friends and I would visit the Burke Lake course in Virginia occasionally on weekends to play a casual round, using old Lightning discs that a few friends had collected.

While I had fun, I didn’t realize then what the game held for me. I honestly kind of dismissed it.

After high school, I moved to Iowa to pursue a college education, and even through those years, I hadn’t thought about disc golf. After graduating, I moved to the Twin Cities to room with a college friend, Matt, and enter the workforce.

These years would re-introduce me to the game that has since changed my life.

Lamenting our lots in the rat race, Matt and I began to play disc golf. We often called in sick to get out and play. It quickly proved to be one of the few activities that would get me outdoors. Matt and I would talk about our woes, share our plans for the future and forget the drudgery of adulthood, all while chasing plastic discs around Kaposia Park.

Parenthood and marriage soon changed many things in my life.

Once more, I forgot about the game of disc golf as I grappled with fatherhood and being a husband. Those weekend jaunts to Kaposia quickly faded into little more than memories.

In the course of my seven-year marriage, I went from being 240 pounds to a whopping 360. I was depressed with my weight and struggled with the pressures of being a parent and partner. In an attempt to salvage things, my then wife and I moved to Portland, Oregon, hoping a change in scenery would improve the state of our union.

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Photography and disc golf: Look beyond the throw

I was laying on the ground as a friend tossed discs into the basket. I was mesmerized by the brilliant blue background of the sky and just wanted to capture the disc as it started to rattle the chains.

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series about disc golf photography. The rest of the series will continue in the coming weeks.)

By P.J. Harmer — RattlingChains.com Staff

Disc golf is a fantastic sport to photograph. I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before.

Expressions, action, the discs in flight — but it goes so much more beyond that. See, disc golf can be an artistic thing as well.

The silhouette of a basket with a sunset as the background never gets old.

Though the action shot is the ultimate, there’s a lot people can do with point-and-shoot cameras, a camera phone or whatever else to get a great image.

The big point is this, though — not all disc golf shots need to be action or with people in them. The beauty of this game is that baskets, discs and whatever else lend itself to having phenomenal shots.

And you don’t need a high-priced fancy camera (though if you have one, excellent!)

Think of the possibilities out there for images — cool-looking baskets; baskets with nice backdrops; the disc going into the basket (without a person present); discs in crazy landing spots; disc golf bags full of colorful discs. The list can go on and on.

Now, I wouldn’t suggest you try and do all this during a tournament, of course. But during a casual round? Take a peek around.

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Poll 16: Are you fair weather?

I have to admit this — I’m a bit of a fair-weather disc golfer.

This might be coupled with the fact that there’s not a decent course for a good 1:20 drive from me, but still.

I look ahead as far as I can when it comes to tournaments. Is it supposed to rain? Be too hot? It makes me consider if I want to play or not. Especially taking into consideration the terrain of the course.

But we’ll get to that in a second…

First, let’s take a peek at last week’s poll and see what we have.

Of the 72 voters who took part in the poll, 29 percent (21 votes) said they had lost 11 or more discs!

Eleven or more!

Knock on wood, but I’m lucky to know I’ve lost none. Of course, I also search for as long as possible to find my discs, but still. And, I’m sure, I’ll eventually lose a disc or two. It happens.

The next spot went to 5-6 discs, which garnered 22 percent (16 votes). Next was 3-4 discs (21 percent/15 votes), followed by 1-2 (13 percent/9 votes) and none (6 percent/4 votes).

To think people have lost so many discs!

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Company Closeup: Zing Mini Flyers

By P.J. Harmer — RattlingChains.com Staff

What started out as a way to make a few extra bucks after getting laid off from his job has turned into something a bit bigger for Craig Myers.

Myers is the owner and sole employee of Zing Mini Flyers, a company that has designed and created three different mini discs. These discs, which often are used by some as marker discs, are also used when playing mini disc golf.

A finished Zing mini Snipe.

But how would one get into something like this?

Myers said the company started as a need for extra income when he was laid off from an engineering plastics job in 2008. He took the severance package offered and invested into something he enjoyed — disc golf.

Since then, he’s been employed and laid off another time — he notes that engineers are often disposable — but the mini discs have always been a steady income supplement.

He said his experience goes back a ways in making mini discs as he owned another mini disc company, which he sold to a disc distributor located in Minnesota in the 1990s.

But why minis?

The 1956 hot stamp machine Myers uses. It’s an antique, but Myers says it runs great for minis.

“I love the sport of disc golf, and being a career plastics person, I felt the need to make something for the sport,” Myers said. “I like to produce mini discs. Everything about them is small. From the expense of designing and cutting the injection mold, the costs are much lower than larger discs.”

The lower costs can also be attributed to less plastic and smaller machined. Myers said it’s everything the bigger companies have, but on a smaller level. There’s no big warehouses to store them — just make them and ship them.

“Plus, I have a huge allegiance to the large disc manufacturers,” he said. “I just don’t want to compete with them. I’ll just stay happy in my mini world.”

With that in mind, Myers said he has no intentions of ever competing with larger discs or going into making his own large discs.

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Opinion: Hey, bagger! Move up! Or not…

By P.J. Harmer — RattlingChains.com Staff

I’ve noticed a trend recently in disc golf — the cry for sandbaggers to get out of the way of others.

But what’s a sandbagger?

Not too long ago, there was an entertaining discussion in my area about whether or not somebody was bagging because they wouldn’t move up.

The argument was based on the fact that a person won at Am 2 last year by 10 strokes. He was returning to play Am 2 this year.

So, people hollered for this player to move up. (Side note — the person did eventually move up).

According to Urban Dictionary, a sandbagger is:

A person who pads a handicap or acts as if he/she is at a lower skill level than he/she actually is so he/she can achieve better during competition that’s handicapped or by skill level.

In traditional golf, sandbagging has been done for years. I’ve played in tournaments where you know a person is way better than their handicap. However, with ball golf being more widespread, people can find ways of padding that handicap.

In disc golf, though possible, it seems a little less likely to me. There’s more of a reason for the screaming of “bagging,” in my eyes.

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Poll 15: The lost discs

We definitely want to know about your lost discs.

I’ve heard some great stories our there about discs being lost and the attempts to get them back etc.

So why not a poll?

The question is simple — you’ll let us know how many discs you’ve lost. But, the kicker is the comments. You have the chance to win some plastic in this one!

First, let’s go back to last week when we asked you how many people you’ve introduced to disc golf.

For this poll, 85 people took part. I was quite shocked at the top vote getter in that 32 percent (27 votes) said they have introduced 21 or more people to the sport. Well done, people!

That spot was followed by 3-5 (29 percent, 25 votes) and 6-10 (21 percent/18 votes). The fourth spot was 1-2 (9 percent/8 votes) and 11-20 took fifth (8 percent/7 votes).

The cool part? Of our 85 voters, not one said they hadn’t introduced someone to the sport, which is very nice.

Let’s check out a couple of the responses, too.

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Photography and disc golf: Action doesn’t have to be hard to capture

Capturing action shots with disc golf is always cool, but one doesn’t need high-priced camera equipment to capture the essence of the game.

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series about disc golf photography. The rest of the series will continue in the coming weeks.)

By P.J. Harmer — RattlingChains.com Staff

I’ve been lucky over the years to be able to submerge myself into photography. From having a dark room growing up, to working for a weekly newspaper where I had the chance to learn all facets of a camera.

Over the years, sports has always been a big part of my photography. Whether it’s being close up at a baseball game or trying to find the right angle during a football game, sports photography can be tricky.

This post, however, won’t be about the technical parts of disc golf photography (I’ll save that for another day), rather the basics of what to look for, where to stand and other things you can do.

The reality is cameras are more and more affordable, so everybody can enjoy taking disc golf photos. And with camera phones (such as the iPhone) getting better and better, the ability to take disc golf photos is becoming easier and easier.

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Be a sponge part 2: Paying attention to detail

By Jack Trageser — RattlingChains.com Staff

The previous post under this heading (To play better disc golf . . . be a sponge!) didn’t focus on the absorbent characteristics of a sponge, but rather the practice of “wringing out” every bit of talent and knowledge one already possesses to maximize performance.

In a nutshell, everyone will make errors in execution at one time or another, and it’s unavoidable. It happens less to better, more consistent players, but it happens. However, mental errors are much more systemic and can usually be avoided or even practically eliminated with the proper mindset.

This post goes back to the absorbent nature of the sponge, with three specific suggestions on how to soak up new information that can help you improve.

  1. Observe and learn from players that are much better than you;
  2. Observe your own game from a detached, analytical viewpoint;
  3. Listen to your body.

Observe and learn from players that are much better than you

The key to this bit of advice is the fact that players is plural. Don’t just pick one player whose game you admire and try to emulate him or her. He or she may have an unconventional style that doesn’t work for most other people (like Nate Doss’ putting technique), or maybe his or her physical capabilities far exceed yours.

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Disc golf news and notes: June 12

It’s been a bit since we did a news and notes post, and there’s been many things happening.

First, some quick news from Vibram. The company recently announced that the Obex mid-range disc will be released June 28 at Pinnacle retailers and July 26 at all retailers.

The Obex is the over-stable compliment to the Ibex, Vibram’s stable mid-range. RattlingChains.com recently did a review on the Obex.

Vibram also announced that June 16 is the deadline for those who cashed in the 2011 Vibram Open to register by. The Vibram Open is the final stop for the PDGA National Tour. The event is Aug. 16-19 at Maple Hill course in Leicester, Mass.

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The Kansas City Wide Open was held June 1-3 and was the third stop on the six-event National Tour.

Dave Feldberg shot a 45-under 266 to earn the $2,000 paycheck and the tournament title. It’s the first NT event this year not won by Paul McBeth, who tied Jeremy Koling for fifth with a 29-under 254.

Will Schusterick placed second with a 42-under 269.

On the women’s side, Val Jenkins won her second NT event of the year by shooting a 4-over-par 315 to beat out Paige Pierce by five strokes.

Through three events, McBeth leads the men’s standings with 283.5 points. Schusterick is in second with 281, followed by Feldberg 264). Nate Doss (254) and Steve Rico (232.5) fill out the top five.

In the women’s race, Jenkins is on top with 293 points, followed by Catrina Allen with 279. Liz Lopez is in third with 261. Pierce (186) and Sarah Hokom (185) round out the top five.

Coming up: The next National Tour event is this weekend, June 15-17, at the Beaver State Fling in Estacada, Oregon.

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Poll 14: How many people have you introduced to disc golf?

Before we hit up this week’s poll, we need to look back at last week’s edition.

This one as quite interesting, to say the least.

We wanted to know what you would find worthy of paying $5 or $10 per round. Now, we knew that there would be some who would be fully against paying to play.

That, to me, is interesting. Mainly because it does cost something, at times, to keep things right at a nice park. Even if it’s just the mowing or making sure things are cleaned up/cleared out. Someone has to foot some sort of bill.

The numbers were interesting. Please remember that we allowed each voter to pick upwards of two choices. We had 175 voters.

The top choice received 111 votes — pristine maintained course. That was 63 percent of the vote! It was closely followed by on-site facilities (93 votes/53 percent). In third was disc-golf only course (39 votes/22 percent) and, in fourth, was those who will only play free courses (17 votes/10 percent). Tee times took fifth with 12 votes (7 percent).

So for those who would pay to play, we wanted to know what you would expect to see…

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