Sept. 30: What’s in your bag?

(Editor’s note: We are bringing back the “What’s in your bag?” feature to Rattling Chains. It will run once a month or so. If you would like to submit what’s in your bag, please check the details at the end of this post)

This edition of “What’s in your bag?” comes from Kris “Professor” Mickelson, who lives and manages a disc golf club in El Granada, Calif.

He’s played disc golf since 2010, and competed in the open division since 2010. Mickelson participates in the San Francisco Disc Golf Club weekly, which is held rain or shine each Sunday.

He also co-wrote a feature-length film script based on disc golf and is the owner of Half Moon Bay Disc Golf.

Besides disc golf, he also coaches little league baseball.

As for the contents of his bag, there’s a bit of uniformity. See, he notes, that he’s been there when trying to find a yellow disc for 10 minutes, just to realize it’s in his bag and he should have been looking for a blue disc.

Yikes.

So, Mickelson eliminated that by having all of his plastic custom stamped with a shield on them. He’s used the same person since 2005.

Take a peek at his discs:

Kris Mickelson's discs.

Kris Mickelson’s discs.

From the bottom center (Blizzard Blue) and going clockwise:

  • 159g Blizzard Katana
  • 175g Boss (Signed by Gregg Barsby)
  • 175g Spider
  • 175g Wraith (understable 2009 Star — just beginning to get sweet)
  • 175g Wraith (New and overstable — into a gail!)
  • 175g Leopard
  • 178g San Marino ROC
  • 175g Avair (signed by Gerard Butler of 300- King Loenidas)
  • 169g Champion Omega
  • 150g Star Omega
  • 165g Beast
  • (Yellow Center Disc) 159 Champion Gummy KC 11-time (For pre-tournament catch/stretch out only)
  • 2- 36oz. Blue Nalgene Bottles with the Half Moon Bay Disc Golf Club Logo on them.

Want to submit your bag and contents? Here’s what we need: A couple of photos of your bag and discs. Put together a list of everything you carry in the bag — from food to discs to anything else. Then maybe give a paragraph or two about your bag and if there’s anything you do between casual and tournament rounds etc. Finally, don’t forget your name, location and home course! Cell phone photos are fine, but please try and make it as high quality as possible. Grainy shots might not be able to be used. E-mail all of these things to pj@rattlingchains.com with the subject “What’s in my bag.”

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Exploring a new course makes for an interesting round

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Binghamton University’s new disc golf course has the potential to be top-notch. It also proved to be a crazy welcome back for one disc golfer. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Do you ever get that feeling where it’s like you are throwing a disc for the first time?

Though I get a small part of that feeling on almost every outing, I really was overwhelmed with it a couple of weekends ago.

harmer_sigIt was like I was pulling out plastic for the first time.

It had been more than three months since I had last played the game, so I was excited to meet with two others and play a round. We met at Binghamton University in upstate New York for a round on a new course. This course, which had been open for less than a month, was designed by Dan Doyle, who also worked on the design of the famed Warwick course.

And, I’m sure, many of you may have seen the interview where Ken Climo put Warwick up there as his favorite course in the United States.

So forgive me if I was a little giddy when told by a friend than Doyle was the designer of this course.

Binghamton University is a deceptively large campus. It doesn’t seem like it should be as big as it is, but there is quite a bit of land. This course is spread over the upper part of the campus, going in and out of the woods, some open land and the occasional parking lot.

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Andrew’s Travelogue: Learning my geography

(Editor’s note: Andrew Belet, a member of the U.S. Army stationed in South Korea, has joined Rattling Chains as a writer. He’ll be documenting his disc golf travels in another part of the world.)

I actually have been to South Korea years ago, when I was in the Marines.

I was way down south in a port town named Pohang, for training. I was here for about a month and didn’t get to see much of this part of the country, though I recall it being small.

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Now that I’ve been here for two weeks, the only thing I can say is my thoughts about South Korea being small was misguided, at best. Camp Casey, where I’m stationed, is north of Seoul (the capital of South Korea)

…and all the disc golf courses are in Seoul or even further south.

The biggest and best course is DERP (Daegu Environmental Resource Park), whick is about as south as South Korea can get. Not only would I require special permission to go down that far, but it’s also about a five-hour train ride.

Yikes.

Even the courses in Seoul require an hour-long train ride, then  you have to navigate the Seoul bus system. Since I don’t speak or read Hongul (the native language of Koreans), the buses would be a risky proposition, though the trains do announce all stops in English.

Nevertheless, fortune has smiled upon me since arriving.

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Poll 62: Favorite season

As the seasons shift in both hemispheres (though it’s different from the northern to the southern), it brings on the question of wondering when everyone likes to play disc golf.

Of course the diehards won’t care. But what about everyone else?

Let’s hold off on that question for a moment. Before the summer, we posted a poll asking what all of your plans were for that season. We left the poll up for the full summer to allow people to answer it as they went along.

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A total of 228 people voted in this poll, in which you were allowed to select up to three options.

The winner? Playing courses they’ve never played, which scored 134 votes (59 percent).

Second place went to play more casual rounds (122 votes/54 percent), followed by more tournaments (91 votes/40 percent), disc golf road trip (87 votes (38 percent), help design/build/install a disc golf course (41 votes/18 percent), play in leagues (36 votes/16 percent), play in states I’ve never played before (31 votes/14 percent), run a league (12 votes/5 percent), run a tournament (11 votes/5 percent) and play in worlds (9 votes/4 percent).

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Part 2: Two universal truths — and 7.5 tips — to help improve your putting

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

Before you dive into this post, make sure you read the first 3.5 tips and universal truths to improve your putting from the neck up. You can see part one here.

If you’ve already seen that one, or are now done with it, read on!

4. Follow through. Really, really follow through! Think about all the pictures you’ve seen of pro players having just released a putt. I guarantee that most of them will show a player with his or her arm extended almost perfectly straight, and with all fingers — and even the thumb — rigid and reaching out toward the target.

Rattling Chains staff member Darren Dolezel shows his follow-through on a putt. Notice how his arm and fingers are pointed straight out. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Following through is an important aspect of mechanics is many different sports, especially those that include throwing a disc or ball. The benefit is two-fold as the best way to ensure consistent aim is to extend toward your target in an exaggerated fashion, and doing so will add a smoothness and extra bit of momentum that increases power and speed just enough to make a difference.

I’ve had too many putts to count barely go in where I noticed, as I brought the disc forward, that my grip was a little off or I wasn’t providing enough speed, but compensated by following through as strongly as I could.

This might be tough to do right away as it requires developing muscles in a different way. But this short video tutorial demonstrates an exercise that will help you understand the concept as well as develop the form.

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Win a Rattling Chains disc golf pack!

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

It’s that time again.

We have some cool things we have lined up to give away on the site, so this will be the first of many more. We hope to do this on a somewhat semi-regular basis.

Have a chance to win this packet of goods!

Have a chance to win this packet of goods!

We’re switching how we do things a little with giveaways, though, as we’re going with the RaffleCopter widget below. It helps us verify that entries are being done correctly, which is what we needed.

It also helps us with a random winner based on the entries.

Here’s the best, too — it allows many ways to get extra entries to this giveaway. I’ll get into how the widget works in a moment, but let me tell you what we’re giving away, first.

This is a RattlingChains.com gift pack. It includes:

  • A DGA Breaker from the tournament we co-sponsored this past March.
  • Two (2) Rattling Chains minis, made by Zing Minis. One is an Aerofoil, the other is a minifoil.
  • A Rattling Chains bag tag. Only 20 were made (numbered 1-20) and only a few remain.
  • A Rattling Chains weatherproof/reusable scorecard.

The winner will be chosen at random by RaffleCopter at the end of the giveaway.

How it works: To gain entries, you have to do the items below. The first is mandatory — a comment on the blog — and you have to answer a question, which you can see when you click on that option.

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18 songs for 18 holes: A disc golf mixtape

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Of the two venues I refer to as my home courses, only one – Brengle Terrace Park in Vista, California — can make me feel like a naïve post-adolescent all over again.

Marked by tight lines and peppered with elevation and tricky pin placements, Brengle Terrace takes me on an emotional roller coaster each time I play it. Like the girls I pursued in high school and college, it makes me feel like I have a fleeting chance at glory, only to shoot me down and tell me it just wants to be friends.

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Still, like the sad sap I once was, I keep coming back for more, hoping one day it will see me for the disc golfer I am.

Since this course is my disc golf version of unrequited love, I thought it was only appropriate to make like my 17-22 year-old self and try to win it over with an awesome mixtape. After all, what female didn’t swoon when presented with a collection of songs that you took the time to put together in her honor?

What’s that? None of them swooned? Oh, that’s right. I forgot.

At any rate, the personality of this course lends itself to a collection of songs that captures its spirit. Some of these selections are obvious and some have subtle undertones that take a deeper listen to be revealed. And, like any good mixtape, there are a couple gems from relatively obscure artists, just to show you how much work I really put into it.

(And yes, I am aware that we don’t have actual mixtapes anymore. Just humor me on this one.)

I lean more toward the rock-based side of things in my musical tastes, and that is reflected on this list. Plus, some good, heavier music puts me in a good mood to go out and try to conquer the course.

So, without further ado, I present 18 Songs for 18 Holes: A disc golf mixtape. Enjoy.

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Away I go — starting a new disc golf adventure

(Editor’s note: Andrew Belet, a member of the U.S. Army stationed in South Korea, has joined Rattling Chains as a writer. He’ll be documenting his disc golf world in another part of the world. This is his first column.)

Hello all and welcome to my travelogues, as it relates to disc golf anyhow.

I’ve been playing disc golf for almost as long as I can remember. It was taught to me by my dad. When I was very young, he used to take me to the local course in Missoula, Montana, which was simply marked trees in the Rattlesnake Recreational Area.

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In 1989 or 1990, I started playing by myself using only two discs — a Wham-O ’86 Softie for a putter and a Wham-O Heavyweight catch disc for everything else.

By the time I got to high Sshool and had the ability to buy my own equipment, I stocked up with an Archangel, a Tee-bird, a Puma, a couple of Rocs, a Discraft Shadow and three Aeros.

After high school, I enlisted in the military and this leads us to the present day.

In my line of work, you get used to leaving.

A lot.

I’ve been away for training more times than I can count and have been deployed for nine months to a year four times before. For my fifth deployment, I’m going to Camp Casey in lovely South Korea.

Previous deployments have robbed me of playing disc golf, but luckily South Korea is seeing a boom in the sport and actually has more than ten courses in place, most of them 18 holes. This bodes well for me, and as South Korea is still in the infant stage of disc golf, I’m able to use my experience to help truly grow the sport.

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Photo Focus: Sept. 9

(Photo focus will run every few 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.)

Lighting the way at Pyramids. (photo by Tim Johnson)

Lighting the way at Pyramids. (photo by Tim Johnson)

Pyramids in Leicester, Mass., is a spectacular course that plays mostly through the woods, with great use of elevation. It also plays back-and-forth across a clear, picturesque stream.

The stream is visible in the center of this photo.

My brother, nephew and I played the course in August, having our own “invitational” family tournament.

During play, this lone beam of light, illuminated the tee of hole No. 4.

— Tim Johnson

Techie info:

  • Camera: iPod Touch
  • Aperture: f/2.4
  • Exposure: 1/60
  • Focal Length: 3.9mm
  • ISO: 100

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!

Product Review: Vibram unLace

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

Oh, Vibram.

It seems whenever I am away from the game for a while, Vibram releases a disc to get me interested in things again. Those who know me can tell you I’m a bit of a Vibram fan boy. I don’t hide it. That also means I usually hold the company to a much higher standard.

product_reviewI had been excited for the release of the Lace. And though others gushed over it, I couldn’t get into it. It was too much disc for me. I couldn’t handle it or make it do what it should do.

With that in mind, I was skeptical for the release of the unLace, Vibram’s second distance driver and the understable partner to the Lace.

Realize this, too — I carry one distance driver, and occassionally a second one. Both are Innova products and both are at 150 grams or lighter. The main one is my Blizzard Katana (132), and I sometimes carry a Valkyrie (150).

So how would a 172 unLace match up?

Holy smokes!

Maybe it’s because I haven’t thrown seriously in a couple of months. Could it be that I forgot all my bad habits and, in turn, was doing something right? I took the disc out on an open field to see what kind of things I could do with it.

The first throw went about 230 feet or so.

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