Words with Wysocki: Exploring Philly and winning the Yetter

There are times when you leave one tournament and don’t know what’s next. Though I wanted to play the Eric C. Yetter Tournament, I wasn’t entered. So, I thought I was going to be heading home.

Then I got a call from Darren Dolezel, who told me I could have his spot. He called the tournament director to tell him he’d give up his spot for me, which was awesome. But the TD didn’t go for it, saying it wasn’t fair for all the others on the waitlist, which is understandable.

I looked at the waitlist to see if it was worth going to the tournament or if I had a chance to get in. I noticed my name wasn’t as high on the list as I thought. It turned out the TD had forgotten to put me on the waitlist because of a miscommunication. He squared that up and I ended up getting in.

After all that, I headed out to Philadelphia for the Yetter, which I was pumped for because I like the tournament and the course. I played in it the year before and placed third. I was looking to improve on that.

In Philadelphia, I stayed with my buddy Dan Meers, who lives downtown. He was an awesome host. We got to see the Rocky statue and we also ate a famous Philly cheesesteak at a place called Gooey Looie’s. It was one of the best cheesesteaks I’ve ever had. It was 20 ounces of steak — so one of the biggest I’ve ever had!

The guy working at Gooey Looie’s told me the Food Network was coming the next day to film. That’s how you know you picked a special place.

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Company Closeup: Skulboy Designs

A Skulboy design.

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Thinking back to the days of middle school and high school, most people can probably recall that one artistic kid who would doodle on people’s binders and scrawl intricate scenes for the most mundane of assignments.

Duncan Crawford was that kid.

“I’m the guy that people remember as the one drawing on everybody’s notebooks,” said Crawford, the mind behind Skulboy Designs. “I’ve gone barbarians and superheroes pretty much since I was a kid.”

Duncan Crawford at work on a design.

As an adult, Crawford has taken his art from the notebooks to the disc golf course, as he pens unique, skull-filled custom stamps under the moniker Skulboy Designs. Known for aggressive, hand-drawn renditions of skeletons, skulls, and images both mythical and historical, Crawford has gained a following among disc golfers looking for more than the traditional stamp on their plastic.

And while his designs have developed a following, their gestation was born out of simply wanting something interesting for himself.

“Once I started collecting discs and getting discs, I found that there were not enough skulls on discs,” he said. “I’ve always been a skull guy. I love skulls, and there just weren’t enough, you know?”

Based in Monrovia, California, Crawford is surrounded by a bevy of courses and an established disc golf scene, which is where he found his path to stamp design. Playing many rounds at Sylmar Veterans Park – home of Steve and Bamba Rico of Legacy Discs – helped Crawford jump into the process by designing a custom stamp for the course’s 2010 Summertime Open.

The disc design that helped get it all going.

Crawford’s relationship with Bamba Rico was what really got the business off the ground.

“I did a stamp for him, then I started doing t-shirt designs for him,” Crawford said. “And that’s what got it all started.”

But when Crawford began to explore the idea of putting more of his designs on discs to sell on his own, he found the bulk orders that Innova and other manufacturers required to be cost prohibitive.

But a chance opportunity soon came his way — in the form of missing out on a tournament — as he was able to meet Dan Mangone, the owner of Discovering the World, a disc golf shop that happens to be the main West Coast distributor for Latitude 64 golf discs.

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Poll 30: Time at the course

I know some people out there live at a disc golf course. And I say that figuratively and, well, literally for some.

But there are some of us who just can’t do it — despite maybe wanting to.

That will be the topic of this week’s poll and we’ll get to that shortly.

Until then, let’s kick back and check out last week’s poll.

Not many people voted last week — a whopping 66. Maybe that’s why people aren’t watching the game? They are out playing!

We asked you how many events you watch per year as a spectator. I didn’t see any this year and I was disappointed to miss the Vibram Open as it’s quite the event. Alas, this might be something that needs to be worked on as a game. If people think the game is going to expand a lot without people watching, it just won’t happen.

To be fair, some may be very happy with how the game is right now — and that’s perfectly fine, too.

So how did the readers vote? Twenty-six (39 percent) of voters said they don’t spectate at any events. That was followed by 1-2 (25 votes/38 percent), 3-5 (11 votes/17 percent), and a tie between 6-10 and more than 10, which drew two votes (3 percent) each.

Maybe down the line we’ll try and figure out why the numbers are this way. Until then, however, let’s see what some readers had to say.

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Disc golf slowly growing in the fantasy sports market

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

It’s safe to say that fantasy sports is a multimillion-dollar industry.

The amount of people who participate in fantasy sports leagues every year continues to grow. The amount of people who play these games in the United States is staggering. It’s not just football, either. It cover sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey among others.

How big are fantasy sports?

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association‘s 2012 Media Guide, 34 million adults in America play fantasy sports — up from an estimated 9 million in 2005.

That’s expansion.

The big sports are football (72 percent), baseball (37 percent) and racing (24 percent). But different sports are out there for people to play. If you have an interest, the odds are there’s some sort of fantasy sport for you.

Disc golf is no different.

In its second year, PlayFantasyDiscGolf.com has a pretty steady following of players on the site. Co-creator Aaron Brooker estimated there’s been about 1,700 people signing up each year and, depending on the time of year, there are about 350-600 active users.

Brooker said the idea came up for the site based on seeing fantasy disc golf done in other places, but it seemed to be done via well-coordinated Excel files. He let the idea stew while he recovered from a surgery and wasn’t able to be out playing.

After having his wife created some mock-ups, he teamed up with co-creator Rob Hruska, another golfer who enjoys fantasy sports. Brooker had worked with Hruska on a different project involving tournaments and leagues before.

“Our goal is to highlight the athletes,” Brooker said. “We feel touring pros deserve recognition and we hope to be known for promoting our best athletes and bringing more attention to the sport of disc golf.”

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Bringing the family on board makes disc golf even better

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Bless my wonderful wife.

First, it was football. She would hear me talk nonstop about all the NFL action she could handle, until it all sank in and she acquired this insane level of knowledge that she can unleash to impress our fantasy football league (of which, yes, she is the only female participant).

Now, it is disc golf.

Steve Hill’s wife Kelly has started to take up disc golf, so maybe knowingly looking for houses closer to courses wasn’t a one-way deal?

Being that I am a disc golf player, writer (allegedly), and all-around obsessive, she is always having to listen to (or tune out – really, I don’t know) my various adventures. Ranging from “I was this close to an ace today!” to “I think I want x disc in y plastic, but I am not sure because I like the grip of z plastic better,” she certainly gets her fill, yet never complains.

Recently, though, I thought I had pushed her to her breaking point.

You see, my wife was recently offered a new job, which found us relocating to North San Diego County, California. For those who are unfamiliar with the area, it is close to the beach, has boatloads of craft breweries and, most importantly, a nice selection of disc golf courses.

In short, we relocated to my personal mecca.

There was only one minor drawback, though — house hunting. Goodness, house hunting is the worst, and nowhere near as glamorous as those shows on HGTV (which I totally don’t watch, and only know about because my wife watches them and I hear them in the background). We were on a crunch for time, and we needed to find a place that would be near enough to her work and not require a ton of time in traffic.

Now remember: Close to the beach, beer, and golf courses. Should have been enough for me, right?

Wrong.

Every time we looked up a new place to rent, I would look at three things — the price, if it allowed pets, and how close it was to the nearest disc golf course. Often times, we were looking at a 25-minute drive, which for many readers (and Rattling Chains head honcho P.J.) is probably close enough.

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Book Excerpt 3: The time factor in ball golf vs. disc golf

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

So far the snippets I’ve posted from my upcoming book have been from the first chapter, which first describes the reason golf is a singularly great game. It then contrasts ball golf with disc golf in light of the many limitations of the former and the lack of those limitations with the latter.

This post continues that dissertation with an examination of time factor, as in, how long each takes to play, and exactly why that matters when it comes to accessibility.

Keep in mind this book is aimed primarily at the non-disc golfing public, designed to properly educate them about the nuances and beneficial aspects of our sport. As a way of explaining the intention of certain passages to you, the disc golf-enthusiast reader, I’ve added some further comments to the text. Those are the sentences in italics.

The Time Factor in Golf

According to GolfLink, a portal website that bills itself as “the most complete online golf resource available on the web,” an average foursome playing 18 holes on an average course at average speed “should expect the round to take near the maximum of 4-5 hours. They estimate that for groups using motorized golf carts the duration might be as low as 3.5 to 4 hours, but that, of course, adds to the list of expenses and reduces the amount of beneficial exercise. GolfLink is a for-profit commerce site dependent on the popularity of the game with no reason to exaggerate this estimate. Quite the opposite, actually.

For an increasing number of people, that’s just too big a chunk of time to carve out of their busy schedules already filled with work and family commitments. In a report in the New York Times in 2009 titled ‘More Americans Are Giving Up Golf‘, Paul Vitello points out that “The total number of people who play has declined or remained flat each year since 2000, dropping to about 26 million from 30 million, according to the National Golf Foundation and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.”

A check of more recent statistics on the National Golf Foundation website confirms that the downward trend continues and even steepens into 2012.

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Photo focus: Oct. 9

(Photo focus will run every two weeks or so on Rattling Chains. The idea is to focus on disc golf photographs submitted by staff members and readers. To see the guidelines for submitting a photograph for this feature, click here.)

The silhouette of a disc golf basket at sunset (photo by P.J. Harmer).

Taken in a field in Meredith, New York.

Story: I have often seen some incredible photographs taken with disc golf basket silhouettes. I’ve also seen silhouettes of people or discs and everything else in regard to the sport.

I’ve just never had the chance to get anything cool.

Living in an area with mountains and valleys, it’s often tough to capture a good sunset. You have to be on a peak of a hill at the right time and sometimes it’s tough to find that one spot. Two of us — myself and Rattling Chains staff member Darren Dolezel — were heading back to town after a day of shooting some urban golf. Knowing the sunset was going to be good and knowing we had a portable basket with us, we went to a spot we thought would work.

The sunset was awesome. I just had to rush to set things up. With no real level ground, you get the tilted basket, which I’ve grown to really like about this shot. I took as many as I could — both with my tripod and without — in hopes of getting one. This was the best one and it’s an image that I truly love.

I will look to get more images at sunset involving disc golf. But this was a good way to start and figure some things out. I have ideas. Now I need to find a course within driving distance where I can accomplish said photos!

Techie info:

  • Camera: Canon 7D
  • Exposure: 1/400
  • Aperture: F/10
  • Focal length: 40mm
  • ISO: 800

If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Poll 29: Out watching events

Several of us often talk about bigger events — you know, the ones you might not be willing or can’t play in? Ones like A-Tier or National Tour events.

As normal the conversation will shift to whether or not people have been to one, how entertaining it is etc.

So, of course, I needed to figure out a poll about it. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s take a peek back at last week’s poll. We were curious where you all got your plastic (or rubber, if you’re a Vibram thrower).

Only 18 of you voted in this one, but the results were quite overwhelmingly online. That choice garnered 56 percent of the vote — 48 votes! Following that was other (14 votes/16 percent), Mom-and-pop sporting good stores (12 votes/14 percent), big-box stores (5 votes/6 percent), clubs (3 votes/4 percent) and tournaments/leagues (3 votes/4 percent).

I think the one that shocks me the most is the tournaments/leagues one. I guess, because it was listed as where you buy most of your discs, maybe not. But I played in an Ace Race on Sunday and the line of people sifting through the local club’s discs at the tournament was quite large. It seemed like quite a few bought, too. But looking at it, I imagine not many people run out and purchase a dozen discs at a tournament.

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Discraft’s Ace Race continues to evolve in its 10th year

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

No matter how old you are, or how long you have been playing, everyone who partakes in disc golf wants to achieve that ultimate goal — release the disc, watch its gorgeous path through the air, and SPLASH! Ace!

Even if you are a golfer who has a list of aces as long as Santa Claus’ naughty and nice scroll, it’s always fun to take a run at the chains, and Discraft offers that each fall with their annual Ace Race.

Now in its 10th year, the Discraft Ace Race is comprised of more than 300 individual events held over nearly three months that bring golfers — both veterans and those who have never touched a disc outside of their DVD players — together for the sole purpose of trying to hit as many aces as possible in one day. With this year’s event boasting more than 16,000 participants from 12 countries on three continents, it is the largest single disc golf event in the world, according to Discraft marketing director Brian Sullivan.

Coming from humble beginnings in Michigan and rapidly ascending to more than 50 events in three years, Sullivan said the goal of the Ace Race originally was to serve as the middleman between new players and their more established brethren.

The 2012 Ace Race disc.

“Our research has shown that the average new disc golfer takes three years to make the transition from a one-disc-wonder who plays a few times per year to joining a league and contributing to the local club’s growth,” Sullivan said. “Ace Race was conceived from the beginning to be a vehicle that would help to bridge the gap between casual players and organized clubs, serving as an introductory activity.”

The concept, for those unfamiliar, is pretty simple — Discraft designs a prototype disc each year that is released to the public specifically for the Ace Race. Participants pay $25 to enter the event, receiving two discs (as well as other goodies) that they use to simply tee off and try for an ace on each hole. No birdies, no pars. Just pure, unadulterated ace racing.

Sullivan admits, however, that Discraft did not devise the Ace Race concept all on their own. They just put their own spin on it.

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Using dyes to make your discs personal

By Kevin Morrow — For Rattling Chains

I like personalizing my stuff, making it unique to my personality and sense — or lack thereof — of style.

When I bought my Harley Davidson, the first thing I did was take the tins off and do a custom paint design, which is still unique to anything I’ve yet to see. When I got back into disc golf, I jazzed up the old camera bag I used. I took some patches I had been given, sewer them on and even spray painted some graphics on the bag. My new backpack is heavily decorated with patches, tags and other things.

This design took about 24 to cut over the course of three days. It’s my all-time favorite because it’s my most detailed dye and it was a perfect dye — clean detail cuts and no bleeds.

I like to believe it’s a way to tell my story.

I’ve always wanted to do custom art on my discs. But the only way I knew to do it was drawing art with a Sharpie.

Then I found out you could dye custom graphics on Champion and Star plastics. I’d still like to find the first person to discover this process. I can imagine a disc golfer in a dark and damp basement and he accidentally spills some Rit dye on his favorite disc, making a cool pattern. Just like that, custom dyes are invented.

It boggles my mind to think someone actually may have had the thought of “I wonder if I apply cloth dye to a disc, will it work?”

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