Kristy King inks her connection to disc golf’s past

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Disc golf is largely an individual sport.

Though there are sometimes events with a team aspect — such as the Collegiate Championships or a doubles tournament — the sport is highly individual.

Kristy King shows off her "Steady" Ed Headrick tattoo. (photo courtesy of Kristy King)

Kristy King shows off her “Steady” Ed Headrick tattoo. (photo courtesy of Kristy King)

Whether one competes against a course, another player, the field of a tournament or against themselves, there’s not a lot of room to blame others for things that happen during a round.

It also leaves the opening for people to show off their personality. That type of expression can come in many forms, whether it be clothing, bags, disc designs, the way they act on the course, or, even, tattoos.

In the professional ranks, individual expression is there, but it’s often tame. Some top-level players may have a tattoo or two, or wear a certain type of clothing. Others may be known for outspoken comments or actions on the course.

It all depends on the player.

For Californian Kristy King, her expression is on her right forearm.

That’s where, adorned for all to see, is a tattoo of the signature of “Steady” Ed Headrick, the father of disc golf. As a DGA-sponsored player, the tattoo makes sense.

What makes a disc golfer go that far? Being connected to the game and to the sport.

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Women’s disc golf clinics attract wide range of participants, create young fans

Wearing a journalist hat makes one think differently when at an event. But at a recent disc golf clinic, I was just really excited that my wife and daughters had not only agreed to attend, but were even looking forward to it. Being in dad mode, I at least snapped a lot of photos.

The event, a women’s disc golf clinic led by Prodigy Disc team members Sarah Hokom and Paige Pierce, was held in in Santa Cruz, Calif., three days before the Masters Cup National Tour event.

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My excitement came because I had waited a long time for my wife and daugters to show interest in my favorite sport (or activity, hobby or obsession). My wife used to play many years ago, before the kids came along, but it was always more about wanting to share something I loved. The kids have played a few times, but hadn’t gotten hooked yet.

Scheduled for 5 p.m., the clinic was held on a particularly windy (and cold, for Santa Cruz) day in April. As a disc golf instructor, I assure you that these are not ideal conditions for teaching or learning the basics of flying disc sports.

We arrived a little before 5 and, aside from one lady, were the first on the scene. Slipping into journalist mode, I asked her what brought her there. She told me she was from San Francisco (a 1- or 2-hour drive, depending on traffic), and had played a week earlier in the amateur Masters Cup event. The clinic was promoted during that week and during the Daisy Chains women’s tourney, held in Santa Cruz County the week between the amateur and professional Masters Cup weekends.

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Ragna Bygde looking beyond Sweden to make her mark on the sport

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Life as a professional disc golfer isn’t the most glamorous of career choices.

Especially for women.

The fields are smaller, which, in turn, makes the prize money smaller than in men’s tournaments. And that’s just in the United States. Add in being a professional women’s player in Europe and it’s even harder.

Ragna Bygde is one of the newest members of Prodigy Disc. (photo courtesy Ragna Bygde)

Ragna Bygde is one of the newest members of Prodigy Disc. (photo courtesy Ragna Bygde)

Such is the life of Ragna Bygde, one of the newest members of Prodigy Disc. A resident of Stockholm, Sweden, the 23-year-old Bygde has been playing on and off for eight years and comes from a family of disc golfers. Her father, Peter Bygde, is also a professional.

Being a professional wasn’t much of a choice for Bygde, though, as she made that move when she played in her first tournament.

“In Europe, there’s only pro for women,” she said. “So as soon as you get into the game, you are a pro.”

Though she had a father who played disc golf often, it wasn’t her first love. She did spend a lot of time with her father at Järva Discgolf Park, but it was just to hang out with her father.

“I never joined him though,” she said. “I was to busy working on my career in show jumping and synchronized swimming as most young girls did at that point.”

Something changed, however. During her teenage years, she started throwing plastic. Bygde said she saw another teen playing and wanted to give it a chance. The love of the sport didn’t take long to set in and she soon left the pool and horses behind.

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Women to take over Rattling Chains from May 12-18

Women’s Week has returned to Rattling Chains.

Before I continue, allow me to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all you discin’ mothers and any others who happen to come across the blog.

If you have been a follower of us since the early days of our blog, you’ll remember us declaring one full week last year as Women’s Week. Our plan was simple — to dedicate a full week to write about or have stories written by women.

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We did it in conjunction with the PDGA’s Women’s Global Event. For the week, we changed the look of our blog and ran stories that seemed to be a hit among disc golf fans.

Still, we did it in our early days. We had only been going at it for about two months and didn’t have the connections or contacts we do now. We had some pretty solid stories, but there were some about the Women’s Global Event and things like that.

The PDGA decided it wasn’t going to hold the WGE this year. It’s not a permanent thing, though. After all, the WGE drew more than 600 women worldwide playing in these events and it is a smart and strategic move for the PDGA to be involved in the advancement of women’s disc golf.

Despite that, we made a conscious decision last year to make this a permanent part of our site. As long as Rattling Chains is an active blog, there will be Women’s Week each May.

This year, we’ve started the week on Mother’s Day, which seems like the most fitting time to start our week to honor the women in this game. We’ll, once again, be changing the look and colors on our site and our stories this week are about or written by women.

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Good friends and good beer make for a great disc golf day trip

Disc golf is a fringe sport. I make no bones about that, and I understand it isn’t for everyone.

That being said, I am always looking to get more people to try out the game. I figure that, since it is relatively inexpensive and I have had such a good time playing, others might get hooked as easily.

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So when I was able to swindle seven of my friends — most of whom had never played — into driving an hour and 20 minutes from home to play a course, I thought I had hit the jackpot.

Thinking back on it, I suppose the beer probably helped, too.

You see, the 80-minute trek wasn’t just for any old course. It landed us at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, Calif. Home to its own valley language and delicious craft brews like Hop Ottin’ IPA and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, the facility also boasts an 18-hole disc golf course.

In short, this place is my own personal Mecca. The fact that I suckered my buddies into coming, though, was a total bonus.

It all started with some innocent emails. My friend Shane Andersen was coming back into the states for some R&R after working in the Middle East for a few months, and he was hoping everyone might be able to get together in our hometown in Northern California.

Since I had been wanting an excuse to head to Anderson Valley, I casually threw out the idea of heading up for the day, playing a round of golf, and imbibing a bit — emphasis on imbibing. Expecting to be roundly rejected, I didn’t get my hopes up too high, knowing that I could always go shoot a round at the local course with my dad and still do plenty of drinking of craft beers without the big trip.

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Product Review: Bearded Brothers’ energy bars

By Steve Hill and P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

As far as energy bars are concerned, I don’t care if the company making it tells me it’s going to make me run faster, have more endurance, or recover from a workout more quickly. If it tastes like crap, it doesn’t matter.

So when I was presented with the chance to review Bearded Brothers’ offerings the ever-growing bar market, I was pleasantly surprised to find not only no claims of superhuman feats if I ate them, but also – more importantly – tremendous flavor.

product_reviewIndeed, each of the company’s four varieties offer complex, unique, but not over the top flavor profiles. Mighty Maca Chocolate is inherently sweet, but not overbearingly so. Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla mixes the bars titular flavors in a subtle fashion that leaves a pleasant aftertaste, while Colossal Coconut Mango balances texture and acidity in each bite.

The winner of the bunch, though, is Fabulous Ginger Peach. The combination doesn’t sound like it will work at first – for me, ginger brings thoughts of sushi and ale, not energy bars – but opening the package tells a different tale. The overwhelming freshness of the ginger hits the nostrils right off the bat, clearing your senses for the sweetness of the peach to come. Overall, it is an extremely invigorating flavor that mixes sweet and prickly at the same time.

While the taste is all these bars need to be successful, they have a lot more going for them, too. The packaging, for example, is something I wish more energy bars would embrace. It is resealable, so if you don’t want to scarf the whole bar at once, you can save it and keep it fresh. It is also shaped reasonably well so that it can fit in the back pocket of some running shorts, or a bicycle kit, or a small disc golf bag pocket. The outdoorsy background that the creators of Bearded Brothers boast is clearly evident in this detail.

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Rain can’t stop Ricky in National Tour victory

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Mother Nature had nothing on Ricky Wysocki.

Despite a weekend filled with rain, Wysocki stayed calm and played a little speed golf to earn his second PDGA National Tour championship of the year with a victory at the Hall of Fame Classic in Appling, Georgia, on Sunday.

Ricky Wysocki earned his second National Tour victory of the season this past weekend in Appling, Georgia. (photo courtesy PDGA Media)

Wysocki, who finished with a four-round 44-under-par 228 to earn a four-stroke victory over Nikko Locastro, won $2,700. Locastro earned $1,800.

“I came early and was here right after (the Masters Cup),” Wysocki said. “It’s been a tough schedule the past few weeks. Now it’s time to relax for a week and then get back to the normal tour.”

The Hall of Fame Classic was the second of back-to-back NT stops. The week before, the tour was in Santa Cruz, California, at the “Steady” Ed Memorial Masters Cup.

The distance between the two tournaments is roughly 2,500 miles. And with several top pros heading to Europe for this week’s Copenhagen Open, it left the Classic with 65 players (39 in men’s open), the smallest field of this year’s four NT events.

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Poll 57: Growing the women’s game

This upcoming Sunday (May 12) is Mother’s Day.

In conjunction with that, we’re going to be doing our second Women’s Week on Rattling Chains. We’ll have a more in-depth post this weekend about what to expect and such, but it’s our way of helping to try and promote and grow women’s golf.

weekly_pollThere won’t be a poll next week, so it seems to be a good idea to run a poll that deals with women’s golf and can run throughout next week.

But, we’ll catch up with that poll in a moment.

First, let’s go back to last week’s poll, check the results and see what some people had to say.

We wanted to know what type of disc golf was your favorite? This one wasn’t even close and, honestly, we wouldn’t have expected anything different.

A good mix won easily, garnering 89 (79 percent) of the 112 votes. It’s good to see golfers want that mix and challenge of having to deal with different obstacles, terrains and everything in between.

Wooded came in second, gathering 14 votes (13 percent), followed by doesn’t matter, as long as there are baskets! (7 votes/6 percent) and open courses (2 votes/2 percent).

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Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic low on turnout, but still big on competition

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Sandwiched between last weekend’s “Steady” Ed Masters Cup and next weekend’s Copenhagen Open, it seems that the Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic is getting lost in the tournament shuffle.

Case in point: Only 65 players were pre-registered as of Thursday evening for the National Tour event taking place Friday through Sunday at the International Disc Golf Center in Appling, Georgia. That number is just shy of half of the participants in the Texas State Championship (116) and a mere third of those who played last week in Santa Cruz (171).

Nikko Locastro will be seeking his first NT win of the season this weekend in Georgia. (photo courtesy PDGA Media)

And while plenty of big names will attend this weekend’s festivities at the home of the PDGA — Ken Climo, Will Schusterick, Nikko Locastro, , Ricky Wysocki, Dave Feldberg, Paige Pierce, and Sarah Hokom headline the bill — the list of pros not making the trek is almost as impressive as those playing.

Current National Tour leader and reigning world champion Paul McBeth? Absent. Masters Cup runner-up Philo Brathwaite? Playing a tournament in Oceanside, California. Former world champion Eric McCabe? An upstate New York tourney. Perennial tour standouts Nate Doss, Val Jenkins and Avery Jenkins? Hanging out elsewhere.

So, as some players use Georgia as a layover on their way to Europe and others simply skip out, the Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic may not feel like the big event that it is.

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No matter how you rank disc golf in your life, it helps the sport’s growth

Last week’s poll question got me thinking a bit.

I have a lot of things going on in my life. Personal and professional things aside, there are many things I enjoy doing or being a part of. Whether it be out hiking and finding geocaches, to summer softball, to community events and hobbies such as photography, I keep myself busy.

harmer_sigAnd then there’s disc golf.

I discovered this sport in 2010 when a friend encouraged me to go play a round. Two of us joined him and another and played our first round at Joralemon Park in Coeymans, New York. It was an interesting course to first be introduced to the sport as the wooded holes are difficult.

Alas, we played the shorter version, so that day we only got a brief introduction to that course.

It took me several months to pick up a disc again. But once I did, I realized how much I liked the sport. So, I bought a few, started playing here and there and, before I knew it, I was living it a little too much. Tournaments and all that, getting mad when I didn’t do what I thought I should have done and, basically, becoming too competitive.

I knew where it was heading — being too competitive. Thankfully, I got it under control quickly and realized I wasn’t going to be the next big thing on the National Tour.

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