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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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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Brodie Smith bridges the gap between Ultimate and disc golf

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains Staff

Though Brodie Smith isn’t a mainstay of the disc golf world, he’s certainly not a stranger to it, either.

Known heavily for his trick-shot videos, some of which have appeared on ESPN, and his work as a professional Ultimate player, Smith has drawn a large following of people in and out of the disc sports community. He’s personable, engaging and really knows how to capture an audience.

In the world of disc sports, that’s a big thing.

Well-known among the Ultimate and trick-shot crowds, Brodie Smith also has connections to disc golf and is one of the top disc sports ambassadors. (photo courtesy Brodie Smith)

Well-known among the Ultimate and trick-shot crowds, Brodie Smith also has connections to disc golf and is one of the top disc sports ambassadors. (photo courtesy Brodie Smith)

He’s active on social media, too, interacting with fans and others.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “I love my fans and I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing without their support. Also, at the end of the day we are all people and its always nice to get to know new people and make new friends.”

Smith’s fan base is pretty big, too.

His YouTube channel has nearly 240,000 subscribers, with more than 36.8 million video views. Smith’s Daily Vlog, also on YouTube, has almost 20,000 subscribers, with nearly 8 million views.

He also boasts more than 21,000 followers on Twitter and more than 48,000 likes on his Facebook page.

Needless to say, he’s out there.

But who is Brodie Smith?

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March O’ St. Pat’s Madness tourney combines solid organization, old-school feel

stpats_2013

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains Staff

For those of you who live in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania area, chances might be good you’ve dealt with Bob Graham or Mike Solt.

Graham is a PDGA professional and a member of Team Vibram. He’s run top-notch events for years and they are often among some of the most fun a player will have. Graham works hard to make his events extremely enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

disc_devilsSolt, otherwise known as Mr. DiscGolf, is one who promotes the sport and runs events throughout the year in the Northeast. He has a large following because he’s known to run quality and efficient events.

To say I respect these two not only in the disc golf world, but as people, would be a massive understatement.

So, if you put the two of them together at an event, it’s sure to be a solid and well-run tournament.

Graham, a member of the New Jersey Disc Devils, will again run his annual March O’ St. Pat’s Madness event, a PDGA C-tier tournament to be held March 17 at Rutgers Disc Golf Course in New Brunswick, N.J.

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Product Review: MVP Tangent

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

At this point, the output from the MVP Disc Sports factory has to be nearing the level of its automotive counterparts in nearby Detroit.

The Tangent, scheduled to hit stores this Friday, is billed as a slightly understable mid-range driver. With this release, MVP has knocked out four molds since October. And while most MVP fans were probably hoping for the brand’s next offering to be a distance driver, I feel confident in saying the Tangent will be more than enough to hold the devotees over.

product_reviewMore importantly, I think it will bring a lot of new MVP throwers aboard the bandwagon.

See, while MVP’s prior offerings have been enjoyable, none have been quite so effortless to work and manipulate as the Tangent. Case in point — my first throw in the field with the 170-gram, lime-green tester I was given produced an audible “holy crap.” With an easy, smooth toss, this disc got up and ran straight out to about 250 feet, gliding with ease to a soft landing almost straight in line with its release. For me, that’s a good pull with a mid.

But anything can happen in the field, so I knew I had to temper my expectations for this disc until I gave it a true workout on the course. Content to continue working with the 170-gram disc from the field, I decided to use it exclusively for a round of 18 at Brengle Terrace Park in Vista, Calif., to try and unleash all of its potential.

And, I knew I needed to have some additional perspective on how it flew. So, I took it out to the course with the Mikes, two guys I play with who are, without question, huge fans of the MVP Axis, the company’s stable mid-range. I knew that, with their bigger arms and MVP experience, they would be a good measure for how the Tangent would perform.

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Rattling Chains celebrates one year

One year.

One year ago today, Rattling Chains launched to the disc golf world with wonderment of what we might be able to accomplish. At that time, it was all me and I had so much energy.

Oh, how a year does you in.

I honestly didn’t know if we’d make it this far. Disc golf is an interesting niche in which to blog. We try to bring a journalistic feel to many stories, but also don’t want it always to be that way. So we do first-person accounts, instructional posts, reviews, games and whatever else comes across our minds.

harmer_sigAnd it seems to work.

That being said, we’ve also not been afraid to say how we feel. Our stories aren’t always cake and candy. We’re not afraid to speak the truth. The one thing we’ve found out? We might be a little ahead of the game in being honest.

The “big wigs” in this game don’t always like things like that, as I’ve found out from e-mails and other correspondence. It doesn’t do anything to promote the game, I’ve been told. I’ve been asked why we don’t just focus on the positives and don’t worry about the negatives.

One answer – we’re not a public relations firm.

Disc golf isn’t perfect. I think we all know that. And if the game is going to continue to grow, everyone else needs to realize that, too. We learn from the negatives or low points. Well, at least we should.

Believe me, if we could just write happy-go-lucky stories, we would. But then we wouldn’t be doing what we set out to do – to give an honest look to the game we all love.

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Schusterick overcomes scorecard error, wins Memorial in playoff

By P.J. Harmer – Rattling Chains staff

One day, Will Schusterick will be able to look back at the 2013 Memorial Championship and laugh.

Schusterick birdied the opening hole of a playoff with Paul McBeth to win $3,700 and the championship at the 25th Memorial in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Some 30 minutes earlier, a playoff was the furthest thing from Schusterick’s mind. In the span of about five minutes, things came crashing down.

Will Schusterick, shown competing at the 2011 Vibram Open, earned a victory in the first National Tour event of the year by winning The Memorial Championship on the first hold of a playoff with Paul McBerh. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Will Schusterick, shown competing at the 2011 Vibram Open, earned a victory in the first National Tour event of the year by winning The Memorial Championship on the first hold of a playoff with Paul McBerh. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

This almost turned out to be the tournament that got away.

Celebrating his win at the season-opening National Tour event, Schusterick broke away from friends and fans to make sure his scorecard added up. It added up to a 43 and a two-stroke victory over McBeth.

Moments later, while being interviewed, he got news that he said made him look white as a ghost.

Schusterick forgot to put the total on his card, resulting in a two-stroke penalty. That meant he’d have to go into a playoff with McBeth.

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PDGA National Tour season begins with The Memorial Championship

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains Staff

And so it begins…

With an off-season of sponsor-jumping in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to start looking ahead.

And there’s no true better way to do it than with the beginning of the 2013 PDGA National Tour, which starts today with the The Memorial Championship in Arizona.

national_tourThis is the 25th running of the annual tournament.

The tournament also might give some light to how players are adjusting to new sponsors. And with many using different discs, it leaves the question of who the favorite is heading into the four-day tournament.

To go over every sponsor change would take up an awful lot of space. But consider this — six of the top 10 from last year’s National Tour standings have flipped teams. Those include Will Schusterick, Ricky Wysocki and Cale Leiviska, who finished 2-4 last year and all moved to upstart Prodigy Disc.

Reigning tour champion Paul McBeth stayed put with Innova. Could the stability of being with the same team be beneficial this year?

Or will it make a difference?

Prodigy, obviously, made the biggest splash in the market, putting together a team of former world champions and top-level players — both men and women. Time will tell if that move proves to be good for the players involved, but it has given fans of the professional tour something to discuss, argue and debate about since the announcement in January.

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Bachnein merging love of game with eye-catching apparel

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Once upon a time, three lads in Vermont set out to master the sport of disc golf with the hopes of rising to the top of the professional ranks.

Try as they might, however, reality took hold and this fairy tale wasn’t going to have the normal ending.

Instead, it led to something different, yet still connected to the sport of disc golf in a positive way.

In 2011, Bachnein was formed by friends James Sweat, Taylor Johnson and Justin Kaulius. The trio, based in Burlington, Vermont, worked on creating original disc golf apparel and heavily promoting the game. Some past products include shirts, hats and disc dyes.

Bachnein owners, from left, James Sweat, Taylor Johnson and Justin Kaulius.

Bachnein owners, from left, James Sweat, Taylor Johnson and Justin Kaulius.

The goals were simple — organize sports, grow the sport in the state (and beyond) and create merchandise that would appeal to the masses.

“Bachnein was created to apply more passion to a sport we already loved,” Johnson said. “And yes, we’re still looking to go pro.”

So maybe the fairy tale will eventually have that ending? Who can tell. But for now, Bachnein is focusing on merchandise and apparel, graphic design, directing tournaments and promoting the sport.

The name is interesting. It has a definite disc golf feel, though the spelling seems a little different than many would normally see.

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