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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Playing at night can be a fun way to change your game up

Glow discs, like these, are one way to play night golf. Having LED lights on the disc is another.

By Andre Fredrick — Rattling Chains staff

One of my fondest disc golf memories has to be visiting Minnesota and playing my first round of night golf.

It was a defining moment that changed my feelings about the sport. If you haven’t tried it, you should. If you have, you still might find this guide helpful on your next nocturnal outing.

Night golfing can be a frustrating experience for those who are under-prepared.

Preparing for a throw during a night-golf outing. (photo by Michael Owskey).

I realized this after losing a friend’s glow disc and spending 45 fruitless minutes searching for it before calling it a night. I never found the disc. A sour experience can easily turn even the most enthusiastic of us off of night golf.

When done right, playing at night can be one of your most memorable disc golf experiences, so let’s get you prepared.

First, you need a course that allows for night play.

For example, my local course closes at dusk and enforcement is pretty heavy. As much as I have been tempted to sneak out and try to play a round after hours, trespassing is never a good idea. So don’t do it. Check with city or state offices to see if public courses are open after dark to make sure you’re allowed to be out there. If your local course is privately owned, check with management to see if it’s something they support.

Now that you’ve avoided a trespassing charge, remember safety. This list is by no means definitive, but the following items are good to have.

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Playing my part and being an ambassador to the game

By Andre Fredrick — Rattling Chains Staff

The sport of disc golf has grown exponentially since I first started playing. There was a time when I could play my local nine-hole course and have it all to myself. Sure, I had to be cautious of joggers, cyclists and the like, but the fairways and greens were practically all mine.

Nowadays the same course is filled players. That has meant the way the game is played, whether it be slower play or a lack of etiquette.

I suppose it’s easy to forget that we were all new to the game once. Likewise, it’s easy to forget that the sport is growing on a daily basis, bringing newcomers to it in a way that it never has before. The growing pains that stem from this surge in popularity come in various forms. Foremost, it has brought the casual player in contact with the veteran player.

More families are discovering disc golf, which is helping the game grow, but puts more people on the course. (photo by Andre Fredrick)

Clashes arise over the protocol and etiquette of the game. Seasoned players often have unreasonably high expectations of the novice player. Sometimes, they are expected to have the same respect and reverence for the game that we have. We demand that they understand the many rules that govern the game, be they in the PDGA handbook or some otherwise unspoken rule.

The simple fact is the casual player can’t be expected to always know these things.

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Course review: Orchard Park (Oregon)

Don’t be fooled by this open-looking hole — this stand of trees on hole three can make for a much more challenging shot than you think.

(Editor’s note: While course reviews aren’t our top stories at Rattling Chains, we will, at times, run one when one of our writers has the urge to talk about a course they play or have played. This is one of those times).

By Andre Fredrick — staff

My local course — Orchard Park in Hillsboro, Ore., is often much maligned by seasoned disc golfers for two main reasons.

The first is the abundance of recreational players, which makes the course quite crowded. The second is a complaint that, with its short pin placements and open greens, Orchard Park provides little challenge to an experienced player.

The popularity of the sport as well as the course’s central location and greens that are not quite intimidating make it a natural choice for the curious and acquainted alike.

Orchard hosts “Tuesday Twos” league, which always draws a good crowd.

I don’t begrudge the newcomers. Besides, many more recreational players have caught on to the basic etiquette of the game and will often offer to allow me to play through as soon as they see me tromping up to the tee pad.

In spite of its shortcomings, Orchard is a favorite haunt of mine, and not just because I live a stone’s throw away from it. Still, location is a big factor. As pretty much the only public course in my immediate neighborhood, Orchard makes getting my fix for disc golf a matter of a quick drive or bike ride.

Though Orchard only has nine holes, I find this to be perfect for a couple of reasons. First, I would often find myself at Orchard on a lunch break or before running off to tackle the day’s errands. Being able to blast through a quick nine in 20-30 minutes is a big selling point for me.

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Disc golf makes for good art

“Drive” by Andre Fredrick.

by Andre Fredrick — staff

I have a lot of passions in my life, chief among them are disc golf and art.

Much like my disc golf game, my art has evolved over the years. As a child I had been envious of the artistic abilities of others, so I devoted a lot of time to trying to become better.

“Lady Putt” by Andre Fredrick.

I have learned the most in my time as an artist from fellow artists, studying their approach to their own art forms, taking away from them what I could, and applying what I learned to my own style.

My high school friend Tonchi taught me a lot about graffiti style, with its fluid and swooping lines. While working on pipedream comic books with another friend from high school, Greg, I began to learn about the human figure and dynamic poses.

Tonchi and Greg proved to be my greatest artistic influences in those high school years.

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Knowing your game can help you win the battle with trees

Trees, trees, everywhere trees. (photo by Andre Fredrick)

by Andre Fredrick — staff

Let’s talk about trees, folks.

My life as a disc golfer began its incubation in the Midwest, in the lovely state of Minnesota. While trees certainly came into play there, it wasn’t until I started throwing in Oregon that I realized just how much a threat they pose to my scorecard.

Trees are everywhere out here, from narrow saplings to massive pines. Big or small, a well-placed tree can quickly devastate your score, knocking your drive down to a measly 50-feet, or sending an approach shot into the rough.

Granted, there are times that I thank the heavens for trees, be it because of a helpful kick or stopping an errant shot from going as wide as it may have.

Do you have a problem? (photo by Andre Fredrick)

Ultimately, however, this is just pure luck and luck is never something one should count on to save par and keep their score low.

It could be argued that hitting trees to the detriment of one’s score is just as much a matter of chance as getting that lucky deflection, but I disagree.

There are a number of ways in which you can handle throwing on a wooded course, and you have a great deal more control over the outcome than you might imagine. While I haven’t mastered throwing in their midst entirely, over my years of hucking plastic in Oregon, there are a number of lessons I have learned that have made them less of a factor to my game. Here are a few:

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Disc golf becomes a life-changer

(Editor’s note: welcomes Andre Frederick to the writing crew here. Andre lives in the Pacific Northwest and will provide some interesting commentary about disc golf from his eyes. Welcome Andre to the staff of Rattling Chains!)

By Andre Fredrick — Staff

I’ve never been the athletic sort.

My youth saw me as an awkward, chunky lad with limited athletic ability. I tried tennis lessons, and, I even took up junior varsity football, but no sport could maintain my interest. I wasn’t terribly competitive and didn’t find myself motivated to compete against others.

Toward the end of my high school days, I discovered disc golf.

Some friends and I would visit the Burke Lake course in Virginia occasionally on weekends to play a casual round, using old Lightning discs that a few friends had collected.

While I had fun, I didn’t realize then what the game held for me. I honestly kind of dismissed it.

After high school, I moved to Iowa to pursue a college education, and even through those years, I hadn’t thought about disc golf. After graduating, I moved to the Twin Cities to room with a college friend, Matt, and enter the workforce.

These years would re-introduce me to the game that has since changed my life.

Lamenting our lots in the rat race, Matt and I began to play disc golf. We often called in sick to get out and play. It quickly proved to be one of the few activities that would get me outdoors. Matt and I would talk about our woes, share our plans for the future and forget the drudgery of adulthood, all while chasing plastic discs around Kaposia Park.

Parenthood and marriage soon changed many things in my life.

Once more, I forgot about the game of disc golf as I grappled with fatherhood and being a husband. Those weekend jaunts to Kaposia quickly faded into little more than memories.

In the course of my seven-year marriage, I went from being 240 pounds to a whopping 360. I was depressed with my weight and struggled with the pressures of being a parent and partner. In an attempt to salvage things, my then wife and I moved to Portland, Oregon, hoping a change in scenery would improve the state of our union.

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