Parting with plastic brings different results and feelings

By Jenny Cook — For Rattling Chains

A disc’s life starts off in a manufacturing plant somewhere in America, and for the ones that end up in our disc golf bag, each has a story as to how it got there.

Was it purchased at a local disc golf store, won at a tournament, given to you by a friend, or found on a disc golf course? Over time, some of these lucky discs become our go-to discs — our absolute favorites to throw.

So if that disc you simply can’t live without ends up in a murky pond, how long would you spend searching for it? The majority of the disc golf population probably wouldn’t hesitate to grab a rake and start scraping bottom, searching until the sun went down — or came up. I’ve even seen lost-disc flyers
posted at courses with “reward if found” written in big, bold letters.

Facebook and the social forums on dgcourseview.com also allow us to reach out to the locals with pleas, like, “I lost my disc on hole No. 4, in
the rough somewhere. Keep your eyes open for my Valkyrie please! Call if found. Reward!”

We love the plastic that’s in our bag and would do almost anything for it.

There can be risks involved in fighting to get our loved ones back. My husband once found himself in the position of raking the bottom of a pond in search of his putter — his favorite putter.

As he crossed a slick fallen-down log acting as a bridge, he slipped and landed on a branch — X-rays later that night showed he had two broken ribs and a punctured lung. Two weeks later, including three chest tubes and a
thoracotomy, he was released from the hospital. A full recovery has been made since then and up until this last July, his putter stayed in that unforgettable stench of a murky pond in Joliet, Illinois.

The blue Champion Rhyno was recently found among hundreds of other discs and, after a phone call, it made its way back into his hands. His favorite Rhyno now hangs on the wall. Two years later, the story is now complete because of that phone call.

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Book Excerpt: Why golf is great, and why in the 21st century disc golf is better

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

It is my firm belief that the sport of disc golf — which already has enjoyed strong, steady growth for more than two decades — will experience an explosion in popularity when two things happen:

  1. The general public is properly educated about the true nature and accessibility of disc golf, and all the nuances that make it so much more like traditional golf than most people assume to be the case (the variety of discs and throws, the effects of wind and terrain, etc.).
  2. Disc golf reaches a ‘tipping point’ in terms of popular opinion, triggered by either a critical mass of popular culture/media recognition or a handful of random watershed moments. For instance, if a super-famous person suddenly lists disc golf as their favorite activity, or a TV show, website, or publication with millions of fans features it prominently.

Now, it is altogether possible that a famous person will stumble across disc golf at any time, fall in love with the sport, and by sharing his or her passion for the sport do more to promote it in one day than all other players combined have done up to that point. But unless there is some exhaustive source of correct, detailed, and compelling information available that explains the many different reasons why people that have played it love it so much, chances of that watershed moment resulting in anything but a temporary fad are minimal.

Those seeking the truth about the sport will find nothing substantial — or worse, the misinformation and oversimplifications that currently exist. My goal is to fill that void and have answers to the inevitable questions ready and waiting in a book, for the day the dam breaks.

I’m writing a book that aims to make the two events numbered above much likelier to occur, as well as making the inevitable explosion of disc golf a mere launching point for something with staying power. The book will include chapters that discuss the history, finer points, unique grassroots growth, and formats of the sport, among others. But the unifying theme is a very specific sales pitch for disc golf, and it’s established in the first chapter and repeated throughout:

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Poll 23: What’s your longest break?

This next poll kind of goes out to the more avid golfers. Maybe not so much to the casual golfers who go whenever, but the ones who play on a regular basis.

Maybe you’re the one who plays in a weekly group. Or in leagues. Or every chance you get. You’ll be the ones I’m talking to.

But, for a moment, let’s go back to the last poll.

We had asked what your main throwing form is and the result, in my eyes, was not shocking.

Of the 129 players who gave an opinion, 82 percent — or 106 people — voted backhand. That was followed by sidearm (14 percent/18 votes) and then overhand (4 percent/5 votes).

To be honest, when I put this poll up, that was the kind of response I expected as it’s like a lefty in ball golf — it seems so rare when you see it. I know a few people who are mainly sidearm, but for the most part, the majority of people I know or have seen are backhand.

Maybe a few years down the line, as the game grows, this could change. But for now, the backhanders have it.

Let’s see what a few players had to say:

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Playing my part and being an ambassador to the game

By Andre Fredrick — Rattling Chains Staff

The sport of disc golf has grown exponentially since I first started playing. There was a time when I could play my local nine-hole course and have it all to myself. Sure, I had to be cautious of joggers, cyclists and the like, but the fairways and greens were practically all mine.

Nowadays the same course is filled players. That has meant the way the game is played, whether it be slower play or a lack of etiquette.

I suppose it’s easy to forget that we were all new to the game once. Likewise, it’s easy to forget that the sport is growing on a daily basis, bringing newcomers to it in a way that it never has before. The growing pains that stem from this surge in popularity come in various forms. Foremost, it has brought the casual player in contact with the veteran player.

More families are discovering disc golf, which is helping the game grow, but puts more people on the course. (photo by Andre Fredrick)

Clashes arise over the protocol and etiquette of the game. Seasoned players often have unreasonably high expectations of the novice player. Sometimes, they are expected to have the same respect and reverence for the game that we have. We demand that they understand the many rules that govern the game, be they in the PDGA handbook or some otherwise unspoken rule.

The simple fact is the casual player can’t be expected to always know these things.

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Company Closeup: Arroyo Disc Sports

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains Staff

Since the sport’s inception, disc golf has been constantly evolving. Lids and blunt-edged discs have given way to the modern, physics-pushing sharp-nosed drivers of today. Courses are growing in size and number. Even bags have pushed the limits of technology, with human hands now being eschewed in favor of military-grade backpack material hoisted over one’s shoulders.

But one area that has not kept pace with the current rate of change is the basket.

Yes, companies have added more chains to their devices, or worked to make them more visible, but current chain-device design still allows for a good deal of spit-outs and pass-throughs. Casual and professional players alike can tell you about their experiences with the “one that got away,” so to speak, more than likely with a scowl and a couple expletives to accompany their stories.

The Arroyo Vortex.

Arroyo Disc Sports is hoping to rewrite the ending to these tales with their new basket, the Vortex.

With the Vortex, the Pasadena, California-based company has completely redesigned the chain structure, giving it a net-like appearance and function. The aim is better catching, happier players, and, in the end, evolution of the game.

“The idea for a new basket sprouted from our experiences as tournament players,” said Arroyo co-founder Logan Turner. “We felt that there was a need for an upgrade to basket technology for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being the functional shortcomings of most baskets we play on today.”

Turner pointed to the aforementioned spit-outs and the havoc they can wreak on a player’s mental game and, in the case of professionals, their wallets.

“All players have experienced spit outs and pass-throughs on putts at some point in their career, and at all levels that can be mentally frustrating,” he said. “Not to mention it can cost top pros hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each time it occurs.”

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Disc golf still looking to go viral

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

The day disc golf finally goes viral is . . . not here yet.

Hasn’t happened.

But like a geologist who observes trends and predicts a major earthquake will occur in an area with no seismic history, I believe it will.

Many share my belief, but few agree with my vision of how it will happen and what disc golf’s future potential can be. Those on the inner circle of professional disc golf — and their small but intensely loyal pack of fans — seem to think a major sponsor will come along and bankroll the professional tour, making televised tournaments a reality, thus creating legions of new players and courses.

This is a romanticized vision based more on hopes and dreams than any historical sports precedent, and I feel it is completely backwards.

Corporations are about two things — making money and, if public, increasing share price. They just don’t sink major sponsorship money into anything until they can see that it will draw a measurably significant audience and therefore improve their bottom line. By this yardstick disc golf is no where close.

I asked Rattling Chains founder P.J. to run last week’s poll question, ‘How did you get introduced to the game’ for this precise reason, and the results were just as I predicted — 67 percent said they learned of the sport through a friend, and exactly zero responded that they learned of it through some form of media.

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The Vibram Open should be packed full of excitement

Nate Doss takes a plunge into the pond after winning the Vibram Open last year. Will Doss repeat or will someone else claim victory this year?

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

This year’s Vibram Open is shaping up to be one to remember.

And for the first time, the pros and ams are each getting in on the action.

The Vibram is the final stop on the PDGA National Tour Elite Series. This year, the event expands to four days for the pros, running from Thursday to Sunday.

On top of that, the Vibram has added an amateur tournament, which will be held at other area courses with the final being shifted to Maple Hill to play the vaunted gold tees.

Some of the other major new items for this year’s Vibram include:

  • The men’s professional open field is smaller, but has a larger payout. A cap of 144 players has been set (it used to be 160), and the cut will remain at 72. The payout has gone from $41,000 to $45,000.
  • The women’s payout this year has also gone up — from $8,300 to $10,000. The Vibram also allowed any and all women to compete with the cut line being 15.
  • The Vibram has also gone from three to four rounds.

The pro tournament will run from Thursday through Sunday at Maple Hill in Leicester, Mass.

One of the most scenic courses on the tour, the championship gold tees challenge the best in the world with tricky woods shots, long drives and creative water holes.

As the crowning — and final stop — on the PDGA Tour, more than just a victory will be on the line as the tour champion will be crowned at this event as well.

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Poll 22: Throwing form

Have you ever noticed how repetitive sports are when playing them?

There are so many technical parts to a game that make it like that. Whether it be throwing, catching, swinging or whatever else, the motions and way to do things — and do them correctly — are repetitive.

It’s not to say it’s a bad thing. The repetitiveness nature of things is what makes someone better or worse than another.

Take, for example, baseball pitching.

A pitcher has several ways they can throw — overhand, 3/4 or sidearm. Some even go to a submarine style of throwing. But they stay with that in a predominate way, thus making it so their motion and such is what they do over and over.

Disc golf is no different. And part of that is something to keep in mind when we discuss this week’s poll question.

Before that, however, let’s go back to last week’s poll, when we asked you how you were introduced to the game.

Often, our poll questions come from the other writers on this site. Jack Trageser said he was curious about what people would say in response to this poll and even said he’d guess that the majority of people would vote the options of being introduced by a friend or seeing it being played would be the two top choices.

He was half right.

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Course review: Orchard Park (Oregon)

Don’t be fooled by this open-looking hole — this stand of trees on hole three can make for a much more challenging shot than you think.

(Editor’s note: While course reviews aren’t our top stories at Rattling Chains, we will, at times, run one when one of our writers has the urge to talk about a course they play or have played. This is one of those times).

By Andre Fredrick — RattlingChains.com staff

My local course — Orchard Park in Hillsboro, Ore., is often much maligned by seasoned disc golfers for two main reasons.

The first is the abundance of recreational players, which makes the course quite crowded. The second is a complaint that, with its short pin placements and open greens, Orchard Park provides little challenge to an experienced player.

The popularity of the sport as well as the course’s central location and greens that are not quite intimidating make it a natural choice for the curious and acquainted alike.

Orchard hosts “Tuesday Twos” league, which always draws a good crowd.

I don’t begrudge the newcomers. Besides, many more recreational players have caught on to the basic etiquette of the game and will often offer to allow me to play through as soon as they see me tromping up to the tee pad.

In spite of its shortcomings, Orchard is a favorite haunt of mine, and not just because I live a stone’s throw away from it. Still, location is a big factor. As pretty much the only public course in my immediate neighborhood, Orchard makes getting my fix for disc golf a matter of a quick drive or bike ride.

Though Orchard only has nine holes, I find this to be perfect for a couple of reasons. First, I would often find myself at Orchard on a lunch break or before running off to tackle the day’s errands. Being able to blast through a quick nine in 20-30 minutes is a big selling point for me.

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Exclusive: The chains talk back

(Editor’s note: Sometimes there isn’t anything in the queue and I’m blank so I start thinking about silly things I can write about. This is one of those stories…)

By Disc G. Basket, Esq. — Contributing writer

I’m sick of it.

You see, me and my brethren are sick and tired of you disc golfers treating us like crap or second-rate citizens.

Rattle those chains, you say. Make them sing, you say. Throw it harder and make it stick, you say.

A disc golf basket speaks up — and makes it known that rattling the chains is a painful thing!

Apparently, you don’t realize that we baskets feel what you are doing.

You don’t think it’s a coincidence that a perfect putt pops into the chains and then lands on the ground, do you?

We have to deal with a lot, you know.

Sometimes, we’ll have to smell some of that herbal stuff that some of you players bring around. You know, not all of us like to smell that stuff! And booze? How many times are you going to leave empty beer (or soda or something else) bottles in our baskets?

Our baskets aren’t made for that or other trash that people can leave behind. Now we realize that it’s not just disc golfers who leave stuff in our baskets, but they do.

People sometimes also sign us after we’re kind enough to allow an ace. Really? Sign your disc and move on. For those of you kind enough to come out and wipe all that graffiti off us, we thank you.

Back in the day, when we were first installed, we’d be treated like Kings and Queens.

Players would come by in awe of us. Kind of like a new baby. Unlike a baby, however, soon you were whipping pieces of plastic at us. Sometimes, there were sharp edges.

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