A tournament at the Chasm more than delivers on expectations

The Chasm.

The Chasm.

By Matt-Jackie Bertram – for Rattling Chains

We’ve all been to parks or hiking trails or fields and immediately had those disc golf lines appear before our eyes.

We’ve all stared down a line of trees and thought, “That would be a really fun fairway to play.” Maybe you’ve even been lucky enough to set up a few safari holes or played a round of pirate golf in those areas. But chances are you’ve never thrown a disc across raging rapids, or down 200 feet of sheer cliff side.

Unless, of course, you’ve played in the Steady Ed Safari, held at Ausable Chasm in the far north of New York State.

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Not an easy layout.

Sponsored by DGA, the Steady Ed Safari wrapped up its sophomore outing on September 21. More of an event than a tournament, Ausable Chasm provides a full weekend of disc golf, camping, and hiking tours through the chasm proper, if you choose to stay. The property also boasts a permanent 18-hole (soon to be 27) course, named Campgrounds, which is used for some casual glow golf on the night prior to the main event and also for one of the tournament rounds.

The other tournament round, however, is the main reason for attending.

The crew at Ausable Chasm builds a Frankenstein of an 18-hole safari course up and down and over the chasm itself. Some baskets involve a 10-minute hike down the cliffs to take your second shot. Others require a raft to ferry you across the rapids to reach your lie. And one hole makes use of a vacant boathouse that contains the basket at the end of a challenging par 5.

Does that sound like an interesting round of golf to you? It should.

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In defense of the low putt

By Matthew Rothstein – Special to Rattling Chains

No low putts, right?

Every disc golfer has heard this advice at one time or another.

If you miss low, they say, you never gave it a chance to go in.

Why, I ask, have low putts earned such a poor reputation? If a putt misses too high, or too wide, did it really have more of a chance to go in than if it had missed low?

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As a result, I am writing in defense of these so-called “low putts.”

The reality is that a low putt deserves at least equal status with any putt that leaves us with more work to do before marking our scorecards. A putt that misses two feet low had every bit the same chance as a putt that misses two feet high; that is to say, not much of one.

Putting is not a game of chance. Rather, it is an opportunity to focus and execute. We should never be thinking about “not missing low” or “not missing high.” Instead, all of our attention should be on burying the putter into the very heart of the chains. Anything else is a distraction.

Of course there are other things to consider when lining up a putt. If there is cliff or an out of bounds line behind your target, you may want to take some speed off your putt. If there is a strong left-to-right wind, you may want to put a hyzer angle on the putter to make sure that it does not fly off like a kite.

That said, once you have lined up your putt and made your calculations, there is nothing left to do but visualize and execute.

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Guest post: Checking out 10 of the top disc golf courses in the country

by Jack Gaddens — for Rattling Chains

When people think about disc golf, they might picture it as something of a college quad-style hobby — and indeed that’s sometimes the general atmosphere for a lot of disc golf enthusiasts.

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Of course, you can’t actually play a proper round of disc golf on a quad, but the basic atmosphere is an appropriate description — friends playing a casual, competitive game out in the open. However, many don’t realize just how much disc golf has spread.

In fact, in terms of its general spread and fan base, it’s getting closer and closer to actual golf!

OK, so that might be a little bit dramatic. Golf has worldwide appeal, is considered a major sport, and is constantly televised. Its players make millions upon millions of dollars at the pro level, and at the sports betting blog from Betfair, fans can even take their own risks simply by speculating who might win a match!

You get the idea — disc golf may not reach the level of traditional golf in the near future or create the amount of money ball golf does. But where the two may be more similar than one might think is in the availability of courses. All over the U.S., there are now outstanding disc golf courses made specifically for this sport, rather than acting solely as golf courses that can be messed around on.

The beauty of this game is how people can look at courses so differently. Some people like long, some short. Some may like hilly or a tree-filled course. Others might want it wide open to let it fly. It’s all subjective.

So just for fun — and in case you’re traveling any time soon and want to get in some disc golf — here are 10 of the top courses throughout the U.S., in one writer’s eyes. Enjoy!

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Building your better bag: A do-it-yourself guide

By Matthew Bertram — For Rattling Chains

In disc golf’s infancy, simplicity reigned supreme. You took your one disc, carried it in your hand, and played your round.

With the evolution of the game, though, has come a plethora of discs to cater your game to a tee — meaning that, more often than not, two hands aren’t even enough to carry everything.

Here is a Cabela’s bag built with a frame that lifts the discs up into a top-load orientation, allowing the bottom compartment to be used for storage. (photo by Matthew Bertram)

What once was an Under Armour backpack is now a disc golf bag, thanks to some intrepid DIY spirit.  (photo by Matthew Bertram)

Now, disc golf bags are undergoing a similar evolution, moving away from the standard bag-plus-quad straps to more backpack-style bags being available on the marketplace. Players, it seems, are starting to re-think how they carry their gear.

Backpacks are designed to offer better weight distribution by keeping the bulk of your disc weight high and tight to the body. Aside from the comfort aspect, they also tend to offer superior storage capacity. Whether the backpack is best for you is a personal decision, but what you can’t argue is the price — manufacturers of backpack bags demand a premium for the comfort and style they offer. Today, the industry standard for these bags is right around $200.00, and can climb near $300.00.

With the backpack market continuing to grow in 2013, more options will be available to disc golfers. If dropping $200.00 on a bag is of no concern to you, or if you find a backpack that gives you everything you’ve been looking for, then you’re making the right choice. These bags are designed for disc golfers by disc golfers. That fact should not be understated.

However, if you’d rather spend more money on discs or tournament entry fees, there is another path you might take – the do-it-yourself route.

The DIY contingent was once just as niche as the ones who carried true disc golf backpacks. But, as the backpack market grows, so do the amount of players who want more fiscally viable options – myself included. I’ve been tinkering and converting non-DG bags for a couple years now, and what I enjoy is being able to build something that is unique and functional out of a bag that had an entirely different purpose to begin with. My hope is that this article can offer some tips and tricks that I’ve learned (mostly by wasting money), so that you may be able to avoid the pitfalls and reap the benefits of creating your own disc golf backpack.

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Toppling a Guinness World Record doesn’t come easy

Editor’s note: On Feb. 10-11, University of California, Santa Barbara freshman Mike Sale played disc golf for 24 hours, breaking the Guinness World Record for most holes played in a day. His total was 1,310, which still needs to be verified by Guinness. Sale shares his experience here.

By Mike Sale — For Rattling Chains

It’s not often somebody has to be carried to the car after some rounds of disc golf.

But I was in that position. Carried to the car. Carried to the couch from the car. Throughout the day, I didn’t move unless I had to go to the bathroom. And even then, I had to be carried there. At about 11 p.m., we went to Jack-In-The-Box. I used a baseball bat as a cane and that was the first time I had stood up in 14 hours.

Before that, I slept the majority of the day. It took me more than an hour and a half to initially fall asleep because my body was so physically exhausted that I was shaking for about an hour and a half before my body finally calmed down.

Nearly two days earlier, I spent the entire day in Isla Vista, California, at the home of Mike Schnell, my college teammate. All I did was hydrate, rest, eat pasta and watch movies. At about 11 p.m., I headed back to my dorm to try and fall asleep to get some rest, but I couldn’t fall asleep until about 2 a.m.

Morning arrived quickly. Anticipation was high. I was going for a Guinness World Record and the time was upon us.

Mike Sale tees off on the record-breaking hole. (contributed photo)

Mike Sale tees off on the record-breaking hole. (contributed photo)

The event was slated to start at 9 a.m. As my teammates set up and got everything we needed to gather for evidence to submit to Guinness, I sat in the car eating a final bowl of pasta as my breakfast. I also started mentally preparing myself. I listened to some music to get me pumped up and focused on the goal — 1,306.

I also wrote four things on my arm to carry with me for the day. They said: “The only limit is the one you set for yourself;” “The will to win comes from within;” “#76” (which comes from the movie Wedding Crashers — Rule No. 76, no excuses, play like a champion); and, lastly, a cross on my wrist. Those were with me all day and, mentally, helped me immensely.

As the start time approached, I simply stretched and stepped up to my first hole ready to go. There was nothing to be nervous about at this point — it was a marathon, not a sprint.

The first five holes ended up not counting because my teammates messed up the camera work. Five birdies were wiped out quickly. But it was a good warmup and got rid of any jitters I had.

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Making disc golf visible, exposing new people keys to helping the sport grow

By Kevin Fournier — For Rattling Chains

If you love playing disc golf, chances are you want to help spread the word and create stronger disc golf awareness.

It is an amazing time to be involved with the game. Disc golf is beginning to take off, both competitively as a sport and recreationally as a healthy activity. This makes today a great time to be involved and gives each player an opportunity to make a difference.

Although the majority of the public has not played or even heard of disc golf, according to the PDGA, 10 million people played the sport last year. This is an amazing statistic that should encourage you to push for that viral awareness the sport needs.

So what can you do as an individual to help promote the sport of disc golf? Here are a few ideas that will be very effective.

Play or practice in public Take your basket to a public park and start putting.

Setting up a basket in a public park or somewhere else can help attract people to the sport. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Get right out in the open and let the sound of those chains be heard. Bring some extra discs with you for others to try out if they approach you. Also, be prepared to talk about disc golf in a short, but effective, speech. Have some information memorized so you can tell others where they can play or purchase gear.

If you don’t have a basket, just do some field practice in the park. Maybe you just throw your putters or practice short anhyzer shots. The point is to get people exposed to what you are doing and hopefully pique their interest. I know from experience that people are quite curious about disc golf and get excited
to try and make a shot.

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Gauging the true cost of disc golf

By Tim Engstrom — Special to Rattling Chains

All players of disc golf are somewhat ambassadors for the sport, me included.

We are quick to say how inexpensive the sport is when we list the reasons it is a wonderful game. And it’s true — it is an inexpensive sport. But let’s face it, costs can add up.

It starts off at a cheap price. You buy a $9 low-grade disc and go throw it at a park with no pay-to-play fee. Soon, you realize you want more discs. So, you buy a putter, a driver and a mid-range.

Fourth-graders at St. Theodore Catholic School (Minn.) hold up putters in March 2012 when local disc golfers taught disc golf to a physical education class. When starting out, people likely only need one disc, which helps with the inexpensiveness of the game. (photo by Dave Sime)

Fourth-graders at St. Theodore Catholic School (Minn.) hold up putters in March 2012 when local disc golfers taught disc golf to a physical education class. When starting out, people likely only need one disc, which helps with the inexpensiveness of the game. (photo by Dave Sime)

Then, as you get better, you realize you need more discs for various shots. You buy an understable disc to throw anhyzers, and an overstable mid-range to bend around corners. Perhaps you try a different putter or maybe you want to get that more expensive plastic like your buddy now has.

Oh, and you just have to replace that disc you lost. Soon, you’ll need a shoulder bag to tote all these discs.

Despite the investment, it’s still a cheap sport. The course is free. The collective investment in plastic saucers cost less than equipment for most sports, short of soccer and basketball.

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A long road to create the PDGA course directory

By Allen Risley – for Rattling Chains

As a big fan of Disc Golf Course Review, I had to read the profile of its history that ran on Rattling Chains.

The article — and its follow up –was great. Steve Hill did a fine job of highlighting the the various tools available on DGCR – tools I have made a great deal of use of over the past several years. Whether it’s searching for new courses to play, tracking the courses I’ve played, building a road trip itinerary or searching for plastic through the marketplace, DGCR is a great resource. And I’d like to feel I played a little part in making DGCR happen.

You see, I compiled the first PDGA Course Directory.

The original PDGA Course Directory. (photo by Allen Risley)

The original PDGA Course Directory. (photo by Allen Risley)

I had to chuckle a little when reading about the frustrations of DGCR founder Tim Gostovic in regard to planning disc golf road trips using the “check the entire Internet” method. Imagine how frustrated he would have been back in 1984, when there was no Internet to check! Hell, at that point there wasn’t even a complete list of courses in printed form to check, much less one with a search function.

Early disc golfers – those with 4-digit or lower PDGA numbers – typically used word of mouth, a dog-eared copy of the PDGA Pro Tour tournament calendar, or an old copy of Frisbee World or Flying Disc Illustrated magazine to find new places to play.

And paper maps — lots of paper maps.

There weren’t a whole lot of places to find. Back in the early 80’s there were only a few hundred disc golf courses in the ground. In Florida for example, where I played, many of our tournaments were played on temporary courses set up just for the weekend using objects, homemade targets or portable DGA baskets. So even the tournament listings weren’t a sure bet to use to find a new course – it may have been packed up in someone’s trunk right after the trophies were handed out.

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Peace Corps volunteer works to grow disc golf in Kyrgyz Republic

By Luther Flagstad — For Rattling Chains

Picking my way across the field of cow pies and broken vodka bottles, I waved and said, “Salymatsyngarby” to a few students on their way to class. I stepped up to the first “tee” and tested the wind.

I would have to be careful today – an old man was tending his sheep in the fairway.

I am an American disc golfer and Peace Corps volunteer living in Kyrgyzstan. It’s a country I had never heard of before this experience. Kyrgyzstan is a small, former Soviet Union country in Central Asia. It boarders China and some other countries of which you might not know.

When I got the assignment in the mail five months ago, my first thought was to ask if there were any disc golf courses.

Surprise.

A local looking sharp in his shiny suit prepares to throw.

There weren’t. But since I couldn’t imagine a world without disc golf, I packed a few discs and t-shirts anyway.

After a month of getting settled into my permanent site in Karakol City, I headed out to the park across the street from my work. It was mid-day and students were walking through the park on their way to lunch. I snapped a few across the field and one of my discs landed on a sidewalk. A young student wearing a shiny black suit picked it up and tossed it back.

“Nice throw!” I said in Kyrgyz, the local language.I explained that it was disc golf and they should try and throw it from where they were to the object — a telephone pole. I spit out the rues in broken Kyrgz. A few other kids joined and we threw discs around for a little while.

“Keremet! Awesome throw!”

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From snowmen to pro: One woman’s journey in disc golf

Jenny Cook’s course directory and map to help her become a better golfer.

(Note: The following is a personal account by Jenny Cook on her climb in disc golf as a female player. Enjoy!)

It all started with a snowman.

Not the kind made from snow, but the kind that can creep up on a scorecard as an 8.

Hole No. 2 punished me with a 7.

Hole No. 3 — another snowman.

From hole No. 4 on, I probably didn’t see a score on a hole better than a 6. It was frustrating how every shot I threw only went 150 feet and raced straight to the ground. Hard.

After that hot summer day of playing disc golf in Rockford, Illinois, I only played a handful of other times, most often in the streets of my college town for a round of object golf. Other than that, I wasn’t sold.

Jenny has used dedication to improve over the years.

One year passed.

The summer of 2005 brought many changes to my life including a new commute to and from my new job. Along that route I discovered a much less intimidating disc golf course — a little “9 hole-r.” I stopped to admire the oak trees with metal baskets peppered throughout the property. It was beautiful, convenient, and reminded me of why people called me the outdoorsy type.

“I should be out there,” I thought. “No, I belong out there.”

Soon after my mini revelation, I decided to buy a few discs from the local mart, swallow my pride, and hit the course.

Even if it was going to hurt, I was going to give this disc golf thing another try.

I picked it up again on that same 9-hole course. Hole No. 1, started with a 4. Not bad, I thought. But as I looked around at all of the other people playing, I concluded that my 4 was a disgrace on this 235-foot hole.

I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated at first. Not just because I was terrible, but because I didn’t see another female disc golfer. I weighed my options — miss out on something that could change my life, or sit in the corner worrying about what all these guys thought of the “only girl out there playing.”

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