PDGA National Tour season begins with The Memorial Championship

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains Staff

And so it begins…

With an off-season of sponsor-jumping in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to start looking ahead.

And there’s no true better way to do it than with the beginning of the 2013 PDGA National Tour, which starts today with the The Memorial Championship in Arizona.

national_tourThis is the 25th running of the annual tournament.

The tournament also might give some light to how players are adjusting to new sponsors. And with many using different discs, it leaves the question of who the favorite is heading into the four-day tournament.

To go over every sponsor change would take up an awful lot of space. But consider this — six of the top 10 from last year’s National Tour standings have flipped teams. Those include Will Schusterick, Ricky Wysocki and Cale Leiviska, who finished 2-4 last year and all moved to upstart Prodigy Disc.

Reigning tour champion Paul McBeth stayed put with Innova. Could the stability of being with the same team be beneficial this year?

Or will it make a difference?

Prodigy, obviously, made the biggest splash in the market, putting together a team of former world champions and top-level players — both men and women. Time will tell if that move proves to be good for the players involved, but it has given fans of the professional tour something to discuss, argue and debate about since the announcement in January.

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Photo Focus: Feb. 26

(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.)

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The frustrations of winter disc golf (photo by David Prunty)

The seventh hole at Panther Highlands in Dryden, New York, finishes with a steep, right-to-left slope. A second shot landing close to the basket is all most average players can possibly hope for, given the long and narrow approach — and the slope — to the area.

Playing after some moderate snow, my playing partner made a solid second shot that appeared to land very close to the basket.

Or so we thought!

As we walked up to the landing area, we saw these marks in the snow. Clearly, his disc landed and rolled backward down the hill, flipping over five times and then landing on the top of the disc to skid the rest of the way down the hill.

The disc ended up about 120 feet away from where it landed.

This kind of thing happens all the time, but you rarely see this “CSI” level kind of proof about what happened when you walk up and see your disc a long way from where you thought it would be!

Techie info:

  • Camera: iPhone 5
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.4
  • Exposure: 1/3623
  • Focal Length: 4.1 mm
  • ISO: 50

– David Prunty

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!

Poll 48: Pooch patrol on the course

When you’re out for a day of discin’, many people have different thoughts on what the perfect day is like.

Some want to hang out with some pals and throw plastic. Some are solo and wanting to enjoy nature. Others are serious about doing different things to improve their games.

weekly_pollSome like to go out with their canine pals, giving a reason for both to get out for a nice walk.

Any way you look at it, people have different reasons for being out playing.

But if you’ve been to a tournament or a course where there’s a decent crowd, there’s a good chance you may have heard people’s thoughts about playing a round and having to deal with dogs.

There are some people who bring their dogs with them (though it’s not something you can do in a PDGA-sanctioned event), sometimes leashed, sometimes not.

And, with that, people have different feelings on whether or not these four-legged friends should be out there during rounds.

We’ll touch more on that in a moment. First, let’s go back to last week’s poll and see what people had to say.

We asked how many discs you planned to likely buy in 2013 and 205 of you answered.

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Bachnein merging love of game with eye-catching apparel

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Once upon a time, three lads in Vermont set out to master the sport of disc golf with the hopes of rising to the top of the professional ranks.

Try as they might, however, reality took hold and this fairy tale wasn’t going to have the normal ending.

Instead, it led to something different, yet still connected to the sport of disc golf in a positive way.

In 2011, Bachnein was formed by friends James Sweat, Taylor Johnson and Justin Kaulius. The trio, based in Burlington, Vermont, worked on creating original disc golf apparel and heavily promoting the game. Some past products include shirts, hats and disc dyes.

Bachnein owners, from left, James Sweat, Taylor Johnson and Justin Kaulius.

Bachnein owners, from left, James Sweat, Taylor Johnson and Justin Kaulius.

The goals were simple — organize sports, grow the sport in the state (and beyond) and create merchandise that would appeal to the masses.

“Bachnein was created to apply more passion to a sport we already loved,” Johnson said. “And yes, we’re still looking to go pro.”

So maybe the fairy tale will eventually have that ending? Who can tell. But for now, Bachnein is focusing on merchandise and apparel, graphic design, directing tournaments and promoting the sport.

The name is interesting. It has a definite disc golf feel, though the spelling seems a little different than many would normally see.

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Photos of discs can be worth more than 1,000 words

Jenny Cook in front of some Frisbee-themed graffiti in France.

Jenny Cook in front of some Frisbee-themed graffiti in France.

To the average person, a sewer cap might represents all that is nasty and dirty and, simply doing its job to keep the sewer system below our streets. Personally, I look at it as an opportunity to capture a photograph.

I am thrilled when I stumble upon ones with the name of the city on top of the cap. Being in a foreign city or country, I also like to use the opportunity to place my CE Valkyrie on the cap, next to the city name, snap a photo and move on.

jenny_cook

I once found myself on an eight-hour layover in Paris, France. Once landing, I rushed out of the airport, hopped into a taxi and asked them to take me to the Louvre Museum.

In an all-too quick visit, I ran past the Monets and the Mona Lisa, which is much smaller in person, by the way. With a map in hand, I exited the museum and looked for the Eiffel Tower.

Trekking to the famous tower, I stumbled upon some graffiti on a temporary construction wall. The words said “Frisbee Style” and gave me a perfect photo opportunity.

I grabbed a disc out of my bag — a must for my carry-on — and propped my camera on my backpack, set the timer and sat down in front of the wall for a photo, disc in hand, of course.

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Poll 47: Buying discs in 2013

For those of us in states where there is actually a true winter, the season is somewhat approaching.

For those of you with great weather all year, well, the “official” season seems to be coming upon us.

weekly_pollThat’s right — disc golf season.

And with that will likely come many releases of discs from all sorts of companies, big and small. Some new plastic from Innova and Discraft, perhaps? Maybe a nice new rubber disc from Vibram? Or how about something from Latitude 64? Maybe you’re even salivating to see what this whole Prodigy thing is about?

Oh so many new discs will likely be coming at some point!

But we’ll get back to that when we talk this week’s poll.

First, let’s go back to last week’s poll and see some results.

We wanted to know how old you were when you first started this wonderful sport of disc golf. We received 227 votes for this poll and the results were close.

The winning age group was 21-30 years old, garnering 65 votes (29 percent). Right behind was 11-20 years old with 63 votes (28 percent). The group 31-40 years took third47 votes/21 percent).

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The natural approach — Flywood looking to make a mark on the game

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Disc golfers are often noted for being fans of nature and the outdoors.

Brad Vehovic is taking it to a new level.

Vehovic, the owner and lone employee of Flywood Disc Innovations, is bringing a new look to the game with hand-crafted all-wood discs. Though not PDGA certified, the discs seems to have found a place in the game.

Flywood owner Brad Vehovic shows off one of his discs. (photo courtesy Flywood)

Flywood owner Brad Vehovic shows off one of his discs. (photo courtesy Flywood)

He founded the Nicktown, Pennsylvania company in 2010. The main products are the all-natural wood discs and, in the past, the company has also produced wax, accessories and hemp discs.

But wood discs?

In a game where plastic rules and rubber has recently started to surge onto the scene, wood discs seem a little out of place.

Especially because the discs Flywood produces can’t currently be used in PDGA events.

“Flywood offers disc golfers an alternative to mass-produced plastic products,” Vehovic said. “Each hand-crafted disc offers natural and sporty characteristics very capable of competing with today’s engineered plastic goods.”

To make his discs, Vehovic uses North American hard maple, Eco Glue wood adhesive, all-natural hemp oil and beeswax.

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PDGA vs. USGA membership: One way the barrier to entry is higher in disc golf

Saying I am a disc golf supporter and even an ardent promoter would be an understatement. Kind of like stating Labrador retrievers like to chase things and bring them back.

I write for two blogs exclusively dedicated to disc golf, and have a book in the works. My side business — School of Disc Golf — is more about spreading the word than generating income. I produce a TV show/video magazine on disc golf.

jackI have also served as an officer for my local disc golf club, helped to design and install several courses, and talk about disc golf to whoever is willing to listen. I proudly hold PDGA #9715, which nowadays marks me as old school.

However, I am not a current member of the PDGA, disc golf’s governing organization.

In the past membership was a no-brainer, as it was required if you wanted to participate in certain sanctioned events. But raising young kids and injuries have effectively halted my participation in all but local, one-day competitions, so I’m no longer compelled to be a PDGA for that reason alone.

Don’t misunderstand me. Being able to compete in sanctioned events wasn’t the only reason I joined the PDGA.

I somewhat enjoyed the magazine that comes with membership — both versions (Disc Golf World News and Disc Golfer), and was proud to do my part in supporting the main organization representing the sport I love. But right around the time I stopped playing in big events I also found myself out of work, and all superfluous expenses had to go. After 13 consecutive years of membership, my streak ended in 2010.

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Photo Focus: Feb. 12

(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.)

Disc golf silhouette. (photo by Ben Honey)

Disc golf silhouette. (photo by Ben Honey)

I see a lot of photos of winter warriors playing outside in the cold and snow — and I respect them for their love of the sport and their fortitude.

However, I don’t think I can say I envy their winter wonderland as I’m down in Houston, Texas. Don’t you guys lose your discs in the snow? The average high temperature on the day of this year’s Houston Ice Bowl is 67 degrees.

Brrr!

The weekend leading into Martin Luther King Jr. day was no different. It was stunning for January and I was able to play more than 54 holes over three days. On Sunday afternoon, me and my friend Jon drove to Hitchcock, Texas, to play the challenging 36 holes at Jack Brooks Park.

With a healthy mix of open holes, tight wooded holes and long bombing, but tight, wooded holes (no joke), it took us more than three hours for our two-round outing.

We were coming around the first lake on Cedar Hills — hole No. 13 — as dusk quickly came upon us. We had five holes remaining, including the 700-foot 15th, but we figured we could finish if we threw only our brightest-colored discs. As we threw over the lake on hole No. 17, there was but a small amount of light left in the sky. It was hard to see our drives. I took the left route over the long part of the lake and Jon took the safer route, to the right.

My 300-foot drive skipped too much to the left and went out of bounds on the edge of the water. As I retrieved my disc, I turned and saw Jon putting out for his four as the basket, which was on the side of a hill. The silhouette of the hill and basket and Jon setting up his shot against the remaining light among the wispy clouds surprised me.

I had to pull out my iPhone to snap a picture. After Jon putted, I had him fake it a few more times to try different timing, but the first photo was the best. A disc golfer can’t ask much for a better weekend and I think this picture captures it well.

Techie info:

  • Camera: iPhone 4
  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Exposure: 1/15
  • Focal Length: 3.9 mm
  • ISO: 1000

– Ben Honey

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!

Poll 46: When did you start playing?

So many times at tournaments and such, there will be stories about when and how somebody started playing this wonderful sport we call disc golf.

Whether via parent, stumbling across the game, your friends, etc., you had to have started somewhere.

weekly_pollEven more incredible is the age somebody started at. Some kids were extremely young when they were playing disc golf.

As the sport continues to grow and age, will there one day be stories of a kid and his or her father throwing a disc at a basket such as stories about having a catch with their father?

Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s still interesting to know.

We’ll get to that below in our weekly question. First, let’s go back and check out the responses from last week, when we asked if you had ever broke a disc while playing.

We received 114 votes for this poll (but, unfortunately no photos!) and there are some people who have broke a disc.

The no vote won this one, garnering 72 votes (63 percent). There were 42 people (37 percent) who said yes, though.

Let’s check a few of the comments.

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