Book Excerpt 4: The environmental impact of disc golf vs. ball golf

Followers of this blog know I’ve been working on a book project where my productivity has been on-and-off, depending on the demands of my day job. I’ve posted a few excerpts here in the past, all of which were pulled from the initial chapter, which sets the theme for the entire book.

It’s my assertion that golf is a wonderful game with numerous benefits, but the traditional version with clubs and balls is fraught with significant barriers (such as the cost and time required, which have been covered here in previous excerpts).

jack

The goal of the book is to broadly publicize the sport of disc golf to the masses, and in such a way that its true properties rather than the tired stereotypes or over-simplifications are understood. I share the conviction with many others that once this happens, participation in disc golf as a recreational activity will explode. Interest in professional disc golf as a form of spectator entertainment may follow but, frankly, that is not where my passion lies.

This excerpt is a discussion about the contrast between what many consider to be the unacceptable environmental impact of ball golf course development and maintenance and the relatively invisible footprint of disc golf courses, which are nearly always adapted to existing natural surroundings or already developed suburban parks.

For a specific example, consider the resources consumed in placing a ball golf course (many believe the just water required to keep the grass green is an unconscionable waste) in the middle of a desert wasteland. A disc golf course on the same piece of land, on the other hand, would involve nothing except strategically placed targets and tees. Virtually no manipulation of the landscape whatsoever.

I hope you enjoy the read, follow the links and share your thoughts with us.

Continue reading

Out of Production, but still producing: disc value is in the eye of the holder

If you frequent online enclaves such as the the Disc Golf Collector Exchange group on Facebook, or the similar forum pages on Disc Golf Course Review, the acronym O-O-P may be well known to you.

It stands for out-of-production, which refers to discs no longer being produced by their manufacturer.

jack

This, of course, is significant to collectors because it means a disc is in limited supply and, therefore, of potentially higher value.

It means something to me, too, but for a different reason. While collectors get excited about O-O- P, I get nervous.

Having played disc golf for more than 20 years, I own close to 100 discs, not including the stock I have on hand for use in my School of Disc Golf. But I would not consider myself a collector. Possibly a bit of a historian, and, more than anything else, an accumulator. But as collectors are thought of as those who like to build a collection either as a hobby or for profit, I can safely say that isn’t me.

The author collects only discs with personal significance. Among this group are his first ace, most memorable ace, a disc to commemorate the opening of the first course in S.F., a NorCal 'Hotshot' disc awarded for the low round in a tour event, and a prototype DGA Blowfly signed and given to him by Steady Ed Headrick. Blurry photo by Jack Trageser

Only discs with personal significance are in Jack Trageser’s collection. Among this group are his first ace, most memorable ace, a disc to commemorate the opening of the first course in San Francisco, a NorCal ‘Hotshot’ disc awarded for the low round in a tour event, and a prototype DGA Blowfly, signed and given to him by Steady Ed Headrick. (photo by Jack Trageser)

I have some discs that would go for much more than their original sales price if I ever decided to sell them, but all the discs in my possession that I value the most are dear to me for one of two reasons — either I have a sentimental attachment to them – like my first ace disc or a prototype signed and given to me by Steady Ed Headrick; or they are out of production and I still use them to play.

It’s the second reason that is the main subject of today’s post. Irreplaceable actually retains its literal definition when the object that is difficult or impossible to replace is actually serving a function rather than just gathering dust (in it’s dust cover, of course). The mere thought of losing a key disc in your bag and not being able to replace it can cause little beads of sweat to form on one’s forehead — am I right?

Continue reading

Gap Analysis: the art and science of navigating trees

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

Many playing companions over the years have heard me mutter “I see holes” at some point during my pre-shot routine while playing a round of disc golf. It’s a go-to phrase of mine, and has been for probably 15 years. Some ask why I say those words when getting ready for certain shots, and they get the answers as you’ll see below.

The funny thing about this particular mantra is I use it for two distinctly different reasons, yet the two reasons often blend together. The place where the two meet — the axis of risk or reward assessment (a scientific approach) and more nebulous subjects like positive thinking and confidence (closer to an art than a science) — is really the essence of the mental side of golf.

school of disc golfAs always, this is best explained through the use of specific examples, which we’ll get into, but first a brief explanation of the two reasons for “I see holes!”

The history of this mantra, for me, was the light bulb-over-the-head realization that even on shots where the trees and other obstacles seem so numerous and throwing a disc cleanly through and past them is impossible, it’s rarely as bleak as thought. In fact, when you consider the overall area covering a particular flight path you’re hoping to take, the gaps between the trees usually represent a much larger portion of the total space than the obstructions.

After this became apparent to me, I would chant “I see holes” as a way to remind myself to think about and visualize a clean flight rather than dreading the relatively few disc-whacking trees it had to pass. In this context it’s really just positive thinking and positive imagery, and the mantra is a way to keep my thoughts focused on the good things that I plan to happen rather than the bad things that might occur.

And it really works!

That’s how the phrase first popped into my head. But it was only a matter of time before my analytical side dissected the magical effectiveness of “I see holes.”

Continue reading

Casual golf’s competitive summit: an epic and friendly grudge match

I rarely dedicate an entire post to a first-person account of a disc golf round, but on rare occasions I feel it makes for good enough reading and I break my own rule.

This round is at DeLaveaga in Santa Cruz, California, and I’ve included links to hole descriptions so you can better visualize the situations.

jackFirst, let me give you some background. My friend Alan and I have played together since the late 1990s. We used to gamble small wagers. In the early days, he was an established — he won the Faultline Classic/California State Championship in DeLaveaga in 1994 — and I was playing Am1 and still learning.

More often than not, he hustled me. But I paid attention and, eventually, my improving game and injuries on his part swung things in my favor. I’ve had the advantage for the past eight years or so, but Alan has really cranked his game up in the past few months. We’re pretty even now. I’m sure most readers would agree that it’s more fun if your more evenly matches with a playing partner.

We attempt to play when the courses aren’t too crowded. This time, however, a 2 p.m. Saturday round was the only time that worked for both of us. We’re not used to being on the course at such a peak time and it was like a party spread out over 80 acres. For us, that’s not a goof thing on a golf course.

Discs were flying everywhere and voices continually cascaded up and down the ravines. It was wild. Crazy wild. The wind was crazy, too. It was pretty gusty, but the challenging aspect was that it kept changing direction. You’d factor the headwind into a certain shot and then it would change to a tailwind.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Three causes for taking extra strokes in disc golf — and how to avoid ’em

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

After playing the seventh hole at DeLaveaga the other day, it occurred to me I had already had three bogeys. To loosely paraphrase Ice Cube from back in the 1990’s, I was givin’ out strokes ‘like government cheese!’

Then, in keeping with my longstanding practice of pondering why the bogies occurred rather than simply lamenting the fact, I observed each was attributable to one of the three reasons players take extra strokes in disc golf — bad execution, mental errors, and bad luck.

school of disc golfIf you haven’t thought of your disc golf game from this perspective before, it might be worthwhile to check it out. Bad luck (and good luck!) will happen when it happens, and luck is impossible to control (although often times bad luck is set up by a bad decision). Errors are another thing entirely.

Knowing which type (execution or mental) you’re more prone to commit will help you know which area of your game requires more work in order to improve performance and consistency.

To make it clearer, here are the details of those three bogies at the start of my recent round:

Continue reading

Product Review: DGA Elite Shield disc golf bag

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

After using the DGA Elite Shield bag for more than a month, it is my favorite bag ever, as well as the best accessory product ever marketed by Disc Golf Association. Time will tell whether it passes the all-important durability test, but it seems to be very well equipped in that regard as well.

It should be mentioned right that one’s preference of disc golf bags — like the golf discs they are designed to carry — is a highly subjective matter. Most significant in this regard is size. Some prefer the minimalist approach — a bag that is as small as possible and meant to hold a few discs and maybe a water bottle. Others have a rather different philosophy, and represent the “If there is even the remotest chance I might need it, I will carry it” school of thought. These folks want to carry 30 or more discs, two wardrobe changes, enough food and water to survive in the wilderness for 10 days, and seven miscellaneous pockets and straps full of other stuff.

The DGA Elite Shield bag.

The DGA Elite Shield bag.

I prefer something between these two extremes. I want room for about 14 discs, a large water bottle, and the outer layer of clothing I’ll remove halfway through the round. I’d also like several convenient storage pockets for my snacks and little stuff, too. And, now that I’ve gotten used to backpack-style straps, my bag must at least include that as an option as well. Finally, I like to keep the cost reasonable — $75 or cheaper.

Keep in mind these personal preferences when I say that the Elite Shield bag by DGA is the ideal bag for me.

The company is best known for its dominant share of baskets installed worldwide and its pioneering status in the sport (perhaps you’ve heard of “Steady” Ed Headrick, the PDGA’s first member, the father of disc golf and the inventor of the Pole Hole catching devise?), but DGA also markets its own line of discs, apparel and accessories.

Continue reading

Photo Focus: Jan. 15

(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.)

Hole No. 22 at DeLaveaga. (photo by Jack Trageser)

Hole No. 22 at DeLaveaga. (photo by Jack Trageser)

The trees at DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course — especially the oaks — provide all kinds of unique framing opportunities for disc golf photography.

The original shot of the hole. (photo by Jack Trageser)

The original shot of the hole. (photo by Jack Trageser)

This particular photo of hole No. 22 was taken on a cold — for Santa Cruz — morning at about 10 a.m. It’s of the gap through which I had just attempted a birdie putt.

I used my Samsung Galaxy S3 Android phone using a simple auto focus setting.

This image is cropped in. The original provides a better idea of the true shape of the tree. By cropping the shot as I did, I thought it created an image that invokes the possibility of an entire mystical disc golf course, accessed through the knothole of an old, gnarled oak tree.

Techie info:

  • Camera: Samsung Galaxy S3
  • Exposure: 1/180
  • Aperture: F/2.6
  • Focal length: 3.7 mm
  • ISO: 80

– Jack Trageser

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!

Discmasters TV — looking at a disc golf’s first variety show

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

Most of you who read Rattling Chains or the School of Disc Golf blog know I run School of Disc Golf as a side-gig, mainly because I thoroughly enjoy getting new players hooked on the game and helping those already addicted get better.

You’ve likely read, at some point, that I used to play in as many tournaments I could, topped out at a 999 player rating (so close!) and, for a time, was an officer of the DeLaveaga Disc Golf Club.

discmasters_logorevWhat I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned in this space before is another off-and-on project of mine — Discmasters TV. Since the first new episode in quite a while just hit YouTube, it made sense to take a little time to tell you about the show and its origins.

It started when I came across a YouTube video that covered a Santa Cruz tournament called the Faultline Classic. I thought the video was well-produced, given the obviously limited technical resources. I decided to approach the person who posted the video with an idea I had been tossing around for some time. The concept was for a lighter side of disc golf-type variety show, incorporating instruction, interviews and cheesy — and badly acted — comedy. It should be no surprise the last part came naturally.

Continue reading

Part 2 of the ground-up approach to saving strokes

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

The disc golf courses where I live have plenty of variety, but one thing they don’t have, for the most part, is the kind of thick, lush grass found in manicured city or county parks.

I’m used to fairways and greens that present many complexities when the disc comes into contact with them, because of the surface itself, as much as the mountainous slopes.

The hard, and sometimes, barren ground results in all sorts of action after the disc makes first contact. The uneven nature of the terrain — rocks, ruts, and exposed roots (an especially notorious villain in Santa Cruz) — add a second layer of complexity to the already technical nature of these seemingly unpredictable shots.

Courses in manicured, grassy parks -- such as this one in Hillsboro, Oregon -- can be played more aggressively because the disc is less likely to skip or roll far from where it lands. (photo by Jack Trageser)

Courses in manicured, grassy parks — such as this one in Hillsboro, Oregon — can be played more aggressively because the disc is less likely to skip or roll far from where it lands. (photo by Jack Trageser)

So when I find myself on a course in well-manicured park setting, with lush green fairways that are beefed up by Scott’s TurfBuilder and mowed to a shag carpet-like regularity, it takes some time for me to adjust.

Certain things are just hard-coded into your game if you play a particular type of course nearly all the time. Dealing with tricky fairways and greens is part of my DNA. After watching the locals time and again attack the greens with reckless abandon, and then constantly coming up 30 feet shorter than I intended myself because my discs are plunging into the soft, thick grass like M & M’s in chocolate pudding, I’ll begin to realize some adaptation is necessary. And even then, the old cautious habit is hard to break.

I’m glad the adjustment I have to make when in those situations is from more to less difficult, but it’s an adjustment nonetheless.

It reminds me of the pool table my Grandpa built from scratch long before I was born. He wanted his sons to be good at billiards, so he built the table regulation size but with snooker-size pockets, which are smaller than the pockets on a normal pool table. It made those who used it more precise with their aim, but it also required an adjustment to the increased shot-making possibilities when playing on normal tables. In both cases, the key is to be aware of the changes in the environment — and then know how to adjust one’s game accordingly.

Continue reading