Going toe to toe with EMac

Despite resembling a prizefighter of sorts, Eric McCabe uses his ability to throw plastic to earn his knockouts. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

It seems fitting to have played a round of disc golf with 2010 PDGA world champion Eric McCabe in Canastota, New York.

Canastota is home to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. It’s also home to one of Central New York’s hidden gems when it comes to disc golf — Oxbow Falls Park.

I say this spot is fitting because when McCabe stepped out of the car driven by Syracuse-area pro Eric Trippany, my first thought about McCabe was not “disc golfer.”

If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought McCabe was in Canastota for a prize fight. See, with his reddish beard and smaller stature, he seemed more like a welterweight fighter than a disc golfer.

Picture the famed pugilists from Boston — that’s the first thing I thought when I saw McCabe.

All that seemed to be missing were McCabe’s fists to be taped up and some old-school trainer with a deep and growling voice (such as Mickey in the Rocky movies) hollering advice…

“Get ’em EMac. You’re a machine! Knock him out!”

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Attending a pro clinic is a lot to digest, but still useful

Dave Feldberg demonstrates correct form for throwing a hyzer by reaching away from his body. (photo by Courtney McSherry)

When describing my skill level to fellow disc golfers, I often refer to myself as a “recreational enthusiast.” I love the game, and play as often as I can, but I am still not a great player.

Naturally, then, I am always looking for ways to strengthen my game. Whether it is some way to add more distance to my drives, or a putting routine to improve my accuracy, I will take any pointers I can get. Sometimes this helps, and other times it leads me to change what I am comfortable with, which yields inconsistency.

So when I heard that my local pro shop, Kinetic Disc Golf, was bringing an instructional clinic to Kit Carson Park in Escondido, Calif., featuring top players Dave Feldberg, Nikko Locastro, and Philo Brathwaite, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. It isn’t every day that three 1000-rated players roll through town, so I figured I should take advantage.

The end result?

A brain left drowning in new ideas and techniques, simply trying to wade through all of the knowledge and seize on what would help me the most.

Upon arriving at the clinic, I took stock of some of the fellow attendees and was pleased at the cross-section I observed — seasoned players with every disc known to man in their bags, all the way down to a new player with six months of experience who brought along his nine-year-old son. (Reports that said nine-year-old has a better forehand drive than me may or may not be true.)

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Saying goodbye to the holes that shaped my anhyzer

I have a decent backhand these days, but it wasn’t always so.

In the past, I used to throw nothing but forehand shots. Over the years, this old shoulder of mine has had it with forehand and overhand shots. Heck, even just watching someone blast an overhand shot into the stratosphere can make me wince.

Nearly two years ago, I came to the conclusion that not having a backhand throw was not only holding my game back, it was threatening to cause permanent injury. Over that time, I managed to hobble together a decent backhand, which netted more distance and less discomfort, but there was a hefty void with the lack of a forehand shot.

That’s why I set out to develop a consistent anhyzer shot at the start of the summer. Well, that and the fact that I was constantly reminded of my deficiencies by holes No. 8 and No. 9 at my local course.

The problem with these holes is they have mandatory doglegs to the right.

This presented few obstacles for a younger, forehand-throwing André, who could bend it right around those doglegs with a quick flick. OK, maybe not every time. Still, it was with much more frequency than an older, backhand-throwing André has been able to muster. But I digress.

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Product review (and contest): Vibram Lace

By P.J. Harmer and Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

Vibram has taken its next step in the disc golf market.

After months of anticipation, the Lace — Vibram’s first long-distance driver — was released to the public Nov. 23, or Black Friday as many refer to the day after Thanksgiving in the United States.

Reviews from around the Internet seem to be extremely positive for the new disc, which Vibram says is a stable driver.

When you get to Jack Trageser’s part of this review, you’ll get a more in-depth feel about the disc and what it can do for somebody with a stronger arm and with more ability to do what he wants with the disc.

My part is going to talk about the disc from the vantage point of a light-armed thrower and one who doesn’t have a lot of control over a disc.

Allow me to note I’m a Vibram user. The Ibex is one of my best discs as I can actually  get it to (usually) do what I want. I also putt with a Summit and, in the past, I’ve carried and used a Trak, V.P. and Ascent. So it’s safe to say I like Vibram’s products.

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Poll 36: The content at Rattling Chains

As noted last week, we are doing a two-week set of polls covering our site. It’s mainly to use as a tool to try and improve what we are already doing.

It’s also to help us understand our readers a bit.

The reality is, blogs aren’t always successful. You can’t base everything on the amount of visits or hits you get. You have to base it on your readers. Many blogs have people who visit once and never come back. Some blogs get massive hits, but the content isn’t great.

We aim to have a solid following and to them, we strive to give the best possible content. In many facets, the content on Rattling Chains isn’t available anywhere else based on what our writers go through to give you these things.

Before diving back into that, let’s check out last week’s poll about visiting the site.

Though we hoped for more voters, this kind of proved the point originally thought — the readers we do have seem to be loyal. And, in turn, we hope to be loyal to you.

Of the 76 people who voted last week, 49 percent (37 votes) said you visit the site daily (whenever a story is posted). Second place, understandably so, with 17 percent (13 votes) was when you see something that interests you.

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Vibram leaving its footprint on disc golf

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

This story has the makings of the Little Engine That Could.

Despite being different than traditional disc golf manufacturers, Vibram Disc Golf continually seems to be working with a bit of that “I think I can” mentality. And, because it’s different, the company also seems to have a strong, cult-like following.

Steve Dodge has been one of the driving forces behind Vibram Disc Golf’s rise in the disc industry. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Vibram, well-known for its shoe soles and its FiveFingers barefoot shoes, has only been a part of the disc golf world for a few years. Despite its short existence in the sport, the Concord, Mass., company has made some extremely big strides in becoming a major player.

The biggest difference between Vibram and other disc manufacturers? It produces rubber-based discs instead of plastic.

“Since 2009, when Steve Dodge agreed to join the Vibram team to help guide the development of a line of discs and expanded materials, we have been committed to being a part of the exciting evolution of disc golf,” Vibram USA President Mike Gionfriddo said. “We strive to support and grow Vibram Disc Golf and the sport as a whole. We believe that Vibram Disc Golf has a bright future.”

The history

Moving to the family farm in 2003 started the path for Dodge to become a key figure in the disc golf world.

His initial idea? Build a course, a pro shop and a major tournament. He teamed with his cousin, Tom Southwick, to design the Maple Hill Disc Golf Course and start the Marshall Street Disc Golf Championship.

In 2008, Dodge left Marshall Street and the tournament stopped.

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The winner of the autographed disc is…

For the past week, we’ve been running a contest in conjunction with Avery Jenkins.

His last story for Rattling Chains covered the story behind and creating his trick-shot video with ultimate star Brodie Smith.

The disc being given away.

The two, who are each leaders in their respective sports, came up with quite the video of incredible trick shots — inside and outside.

At the end of Jenkins’ story, a contest was held to give away an autographed disc — signed by Jenkins and Smith.

We tried to make it as easy as possible to enter — by commenting on the story, liking the post on the Rattling Chains Facebook page, liking the post on Avery’s Facebook page and re-tweeting.

In the end, we received nearly 170 entries!

The winner was picked via Random.org‘s list randomizer.

Now, let’s give that disc away!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

For those who celebrate today, we at Rattling Chains wish you a fine Thanksgiving Day.

Enjoy the day and be thankful for what you have!

If you fill up too much on turkey, get out and throw a few discs to work it off!

We’ll be back tomorrow with more disc golf goodness!

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

Life as a women’s player can be tough

By Jenny Cook — Rattling Chains staff

Some of us are more competitive by nature than others.

I, for one, was born with a competitive edge. Just ask my father about the countless board games we’d play when I was a kid, or the many nights of staying up late just to play “one more game.”

Playing different sports growing up — including my favorite, soccer — taught me about perseverance and the determination to win, learn, and be challenged.

Jenny Cook getting her tournament game face on.

Which brings me to disc golf. Although I wish I would have discovered this sport in my early twenties (better knees back then!), I am grateful to be playing it now. Shortly after my first few rounds of disc golf, I heard from a friend that there was a governing body for disc golf, local leagues and even official tournaments.

They had me at “leagues,” and I was on board right away.

I immediately began playing in a local doubles league, which was an excellent place to meet people and to learn more about the rules that would later prepare me for the tournaments I’d play in.

I remember my first attempt at a tournament.

Jenny Cook was late to her first tournament and ended up spectating — but it turns out being in the gallery helped more than playing.

Yes, attempt.

I woke up late that August morning and rushed down to the course. I was too late to sign up and play that day, but honestly, I was a little relieved. I’ll admit I was nervous for my first competition in a non-team sport. I said hello to some friends and, instead of going back home, I decided to stick around and follow the women’s intermediate card.

Walking around in a tournament setting really calmed my nerves — all of my expectations and preconceived notions were set straight, because this was reality. And I loved every moment of it.

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Photo Focus: Nov. 20

(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 before and after photos of hole No. 12 at Rockburn Branch. (photo by Mike Chvojka)

The Story: Taken on hole No. 12 at Rockburn Branch in Elkridge, Maryland.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, I found myself at a course the locals like to call “Rockburn.” I had never played Rockburn before that gorgeous fall day, but I had an upcoming doubles championship there and I wanted to get a feel for the course so I wouldn’t go into the tournament completely blind.

A lot of people consider hole No. 15 as the signature hole and I can’t say I blame them. But the uniqueness of that hole is hard to capture with a cell phone camera.

As I walked up to my approach shot and lined up for my putt, I thought to myself that this hole was pretty unique as well. In the background was this metal roofed building, which had really weathered wood. That helped illustrate its age.

I know this building is still being used and I wondered if it was once a barn for someone. Or, perhaps there was some historical significance tied to it?

The color photo helps illustrate exactly what I was seeing as I lined up for my putt. But, I felt the photo was a little too dark as I was standing in the shade when I took it. I also felt, because of the amount of shade and lack of vibrant color, that you focus more on the building and less on the basket. I knew this photo would be better if I changed it to black and white.

I edited the original photo by changing is on my phone to the “documentary” setting. I think it suits the photo better. Changing it from color to black and white brightens the photo, highlights its simplicity and makes it easier to focus on the real subject — the basket.

Techie info:

  • Camera: Motorola Droid Bionic
  • Exposure: 1/500
  • Aperture: F/2.4
  • Focal length: 4.6mm
  • ISO: 100

– Mike Chvojka

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