Product Review: MVP Amp

By Steve Hill, P.J. Harmer and Dave Coury — For Rattling Chains

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a fan of MVP Disc Sports. In the company’s short existence, I have tried all five of its molds, and have bagged three for a nice driver-midrange-putter set-up – the Volt, Axis, and Anode.

At the same time, I love understable plastic. The Innova Roadrunner and Latitude 64 Fuse – a couple of the flippiest discs on the market – are staples in my bag for their control and ease of use.

product_reviewSo, when MVP announced it was releasing the Amp, an understable fairway driver, I was excited. One of my favorite brands releasing my favorite kind of disc, obviously, had some appeal, and I knew I wanted to throw it.

One thing I knew coming into the review is that MVP discs – whether it is due to the overmold, or some other phenomenon – tend to require more snap and spin to fly as advertised. To wit, it took me a month to really dial in the Axis and learn how to throw it correctly, which seemed odd for a mid-range.

This is almost a blessing and a curse for new users of MVP discs. Stick with them, and your snap will likely improve. But it can be extremely frustrating to click with the disc at first, which can make it easy to give up on and move to an old standby.

And even though I knew this would be the case with the Amp, I still found myself frustrated with my first few throws with it. Since it was advertised as understable, I expected a nice gentle turn out of the box, with maybe a little fade.

I know it is user error, but If I wasn’t really concentrating the first couple times I threw this disc, it would hyzer out on me real quick, leaving me a little demoralized and ready to throw in the towel.

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Noodle-Armed Review: Innova Starlite Roadrunner

(The Noodle-Armed Review is intended for those players, like myself, who aren’t power arms and don’t quite hit 300 feet. Sure, it would be nice if you could throw longer, but let’s just hope you have a solid mid-range game to make up for it.)

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Arguably one of the most successful disc golf ventures of the last year is Innova’s Blizzard Champion plastic, in which air is injected into discs during the molding process to make them lighter. Used to bring down the weights of warp speed drivers like the Boss and Katana —  as well as a host of others — it was only a matter of time before Innova extended the Blizzard trend to Star, their top-of-the-line, opaque plastic.

But when Innova announced that its first foray into this field would be used on the Starlite Roadrunner, I was counted as one of the skeptics.

Already a massively understable disc, the Roadrunner is one of my favorites. You can go full bore on it for easy distance and big turnovers, or use it for precise hyzer-flip flights through wooded courses. It is a pretty underrated disc, in my opinion.

However, given its penchant to be a bit flippy in regular weights, the thought of it moving down into 140-gram territory seemed unnecessary. Innova’s previous lightweight discs were all in the stable-to-overstable category, and making them weigh less served to lower the cruising speed they needed to reach their optimal flight. But since the Roadrunner already did not require much power to fly correctly, making it in this new Starlite plastic seemed like a runaway train to roller city.

But when I went out to play with some friends one day, another guy had picked one up and let me give it a toss.

I immediately went from a skeptic to a devout convert.

The ease with which the disc flew, and the lack of effort needed to make it do so, was quite enticing. As a result, I picked up a couple of my own to see if they could make the bag and help me reach that ever-elusive noodle-arm barrier — a 300-foot drive.

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Product Review: inFlight Guide

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

I never understood flight charts for discs. A lot of people have told me I should check the charts when getting discs and such. But I didn’t get ’em. I saw graphs with numbers and lines and wondered what it meant.

Too, there seemed to be many different charts. Ones by manufacturers and ones by independent people.

Who is right?

My thoughts on disc flight is simple — I throw the disc and the way it goes is its flight. Pretty simple, eh?

The inFlight Guide by inbounds Disc Golf.

That’s why I was intrigued when contacted by inbounds Disc Golf. The company has a paperback book out, as well as an online spot, where you can check the flight path of more than 300 discs.

For people who like having flight guides, this book is small and compact and can easily fit in most people’s bags. That gives you the chance to use the book out on the course.

There is also a website for the inFlight guide which is continually updated with more flight charts.

There’s a small part in the beginning of the book describing how to use the book. However, as Jack Trageser will talk about below as well, these charts assume several things — including the player being a right-handed back-handed player, having perfect playing conditions and throwing a maximum-weight disc, among others.

I’ve never played in perfect conditions and I usually don’t throw maximum-weight discs.

Though I understand the need to have certain specifications to use the book, it seems like it’s pretty direct in the things that are needed for the chart to be useful. I’m sure all charts are like that, but it still ostracizes some players in the disc golf community.

For people looking for flight patterns and such, the book is useful. It covers hundreds of discs and it allows people to look up discs and get an idea of what the disc is supposed to do.

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Product Review: NutSac disc golf bag

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

I love my disc golf bag.

I have a Revolution bag. It’s loaded for so many things and I even have it personalized with a few patches. There are two plus-sized water bottle holders and room for many, many discs.

The reason I accepted the bag when it was given to me by a friend was because it could hold so much — my camera included. But here’s what I quickly found out — when I was playing, most of the time I didn’t carry my camera.

The craftsmanship of the NutSac is quite impressive. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Instead, I had a lot of dead air in my bag — where the 8-10 discs I carried rattled around.

Comfort wasn’t an issue. Quality wasn’t an issue. Practicality was.

Several months ago, I was at a sporting goods store in New York’s Capital Region. This store accepts trade-ins and such. Hanging on the rack was a NutSac, priced at about 20 bucks. I had a gift card and I thought about it. In fact, the person with me pointed out that I should grab it because I had been thinking about it.

I looked at it. I stared. I thought about the NutSac.

After debating, I realized if I was going to get a NutSac, I didn’t want one that has been used. I don’t know what they did with that NutSac, did I? Exactly. I likened it to buying a new baseball glove and having the chance to break it in and make it your own.

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Product Review: Disc Beeper

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

It seems that as disc golf equipment technology evolves, much of the advances are slight, such as a disc that flies slightly faster or farther, or a basket that has chains that hang at different angles.

Even in the world of accessories, nearly all products hitting the market are manufactured versions of do-it-yourself gadgets, such as telescoping poles to retrieve discs.

The Disc Beeper is something entirely new and it solves a problem every disc golf encounters at some point — a lost disc. Despite the fact that numerous people have probably mused a concept such as this, nobody has every built it.

The Disc Beeper is a small electronic device with the diameter of about a quarter. It’s light (about six grams) and attaches to the bottom of a disc. When activated, it beeps at three-second intervals after a 45-second delay.

The current model is a permanent attachment to the disc, so it would not be allowed in PDGA-sanctioned events.

The following is a joint review by Rattling Chains writers Jack Trageser and P.J. Harmer.

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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 — RattlingChains.com 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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Review: ScoreBand makes scoring a bit easier — once you get the routine down

The ScoreBand is a worth addition to any disc golfers bag.

(Editor’s note: Two people associated with Rattling Chains tested out ScoreBand, a scoring watch that also works for tennis and other things. The first part is by P.J. Harmer).

I’m a stat junkie.

No matter what I do, statistics fascinate me. Whether it’s softball or finds in geocaching or comparing scores on the disc golf course, I really get into it.

One thing with disc golf and me has always been keeping the score. Though there are many phone apps or pencil-and-paper ways of keeping score, I’ve been in search of a quick and easy way of keeping score as I play a round without fumbling with my phone or a pencil.

Insert ScoreBand.

ScoreBand is a rubber wristband/watch. The company calls it a “revolutionary quick-touch, 4-in-1 scorekeeping wristband engineered for sport.” It stood up to the challenge, too.

First, the construction is a one-piece rubber wristband. There are several sizes and colors to choose from, so you’ll be able to find one (or more) that fits your style. It’s comfortable to wear, though I’m not sure I could wear it all the time as I did notice it was there and with the rubber band, it could get a little tough to deal with at times.

Still, this band is easily worn for a round or two of disc golf. I wore it on the opposite wrist of my throwing hand, so I never knew it was there. Also, it made it easy for me to click the score.

I can’t comment on how this would be for ball golf as I always avoided wearing anything on my wrists when playing. I’m sure if people were used to wearing anything when swinging a club, this wouldn’t bother them. The same could be said for tennis.

The ScoreBand has four modes:

  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • All sport
  • Time

Those are four excellent items as it allows you to get multiple uses from one wristband. For golf, it keeps your hole score as well as your cumulative score. For tennis, keep game and set scores.

Though this is something that will be a permanent addition to my disc golf regiment, the all-score mode might be the most intriguing part of this band.

As the company notes on its site, there are many uses for this mode — including some other disc and ball golf functions, such as keeping putts, fairways hit or greens in regulation.

  • Other items that the watch can be used for:
  • Pitch counter for baseball or softball
  • As a head counter where attendance is needed
  • To count inventory
  • Keeping track of how many times you take medication
  • Lap counter

Truthfully, the options are endless with that mode.

Using the band is easy. There’s three buttons — two on the display and one on the side. Once you get the hang of how the watch works, it’s simple to use while playing. The key is remembering to use it.

Though I don’t often do it, perusing the instructions is a smart move and messing with it for a while before taking it out will help you get used to the controls so you can work it while on the course.

ScoreBand is a comfortable band that is easily used throughout a round.

The best part in my eyes?

It keeps your score as you go along. So if you click it after each throw or shot, you can see what you’ve done on each hole. At the end of the hole, add it to your overall score and you’ll have a clean slate for the next hole.

My only issue is it can get a little confusing on how to take your round score and add it to your cumulative score. You have to hold one of the buttons down to have it do this, but in the end, once you get used to it, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Though I love using my phone as a score card, the reality is it can sometimes get cumbersome to take the phone in and out of your pocket, get the screen up and type in scores. In the amount of time that takes, I’m at the next tee or shot with the score already in my watch.

If you are looking for more in-depth stats, the phone apps are probably the best. But if you are out playing and just want a quick and effective way to keep your score, this really is the way to go.

ScoreBand is $29.99, but it’s durable and something all disc golfers should consider having if they want a nice and easy way to keep score during rounds.

Jack Trageser

One thing in particular piqued my interest when asked to review the ScoreBand as a method for tracking disc golf scores and statistics — I wondered if it would work for someone (namely, me) that has made a persistent effort over the past several years to remain ignorant of his cumulative score during a round.

As I’ve discussed before, a primary disc golf philosophy that I espouse centers on playing disc golf in a vacuum. In a nutshell, that refers to being completly immersed with the current shot rather than letting your mind wander about things like past shots and holes, future shots and holes, other games, what’s for lunch, and especially the distraction that pertains to this review . . . total score.

Keeping that in mind, I’ve yet to come across a method for recording my score among the traditional pencil-and-card and smartphone apps. I’ve trained myself to lock each shot on each hole into my memory banks without tallying the total until the round is over.

When I heard how ScoreBand works, however, I thought it might be the first scoring method to allow me to record my score using a device more reliable than my own grey matter — without letting the insidious organ get in its own way.

The design sets it apart from other scoring tools by being something that is worn, rather than carried, taken out and put back away repeatedly. Plus, it has a watch function, too, so you can wear it instead of your normal watch.

ScoreBand’s method of keeping track of the score lends itself to my personal idiosyncrasy as much as its ergonomic design. The user hits one button for each stroke to keep score on the current hole in the upper display, then presses and holds another button to add that hole’s score to the total score in the lower display.

Scoreband is a very cool concept and could help many people with disc golf scoring and many other items.

In theory, this lets a player hit the buttons the required amount of time for strokes and hold it the right duration of time to advance from one hole to another without having to even look at the screens and remain as oblivious as he or she wishes to be where total score is concerned.

In practice, however, I found using the ScoreBand to not be quite so simple (remember, these issues are magnified by my desire to not know my cumulative score during the round).

For starters, there is the issue of when to hit the button to record each stroke. Do you do it right after each throw, or wait until the completion of the hole and hit the button multiple times? In my case, during the five test rounds I played, settling on a system was not easy. In fact, it never happened. I tried to do it throw-by-throw, then would realize on the next tee that I had slacked, requiring me to enter all the strokes on that hole at one time. And it got worse, as a few times I realized I had forgotten for two entire holes.

I guess that can happen with other scoring methods as well, but having to hit a button for each stroke makes it more of an ordeal.

The upper display shows the stroke count for the current hole. When the hole is complete, you press and hold a button and the hole total is added to the round total on the lower display, while the upper one resets to zero. If you forget to record a stroke, or a hole or two, there is no way to tell which hole you last recorded successfully. It’s also an issue for those who want to know how they did hole-to-hole as at the end of the round all you have is total score.

The bottom line is that ScoreBand delivered in the main way I hoped it would. As a stretchy band worn on my non-throwing wrist, it was accessible and out of the way. Once I learned how to use it, I could hit the buttons without looking at the screens, enabling me to avoid knowing my score.

But it either takes time to get the process down to a routine, or I’m just inept at it. Of the five test rounds I played, my total came out wrong twice. I rely on my memory-based compilation after the round is over. Since I can recall each shot in my mind’s eye, it proved my use of the ScoreBand wasn’t perfect. I don’t think the device was faulty — it was a combination of my attention span and the user interface.

In January, ScoreBand was recognized as the Best Product Concept at the Professional Golf Association merchandise show. The people who awarded ScoreBand put more thought into things like that, so if you you’re like me and want a method for scoring that is handy and unobtrusive, ScoreBand may be for you.

If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Disc review: Vibram Obex can’t be beat

(Editor’s note: Three people associated with Rattling Chains tested out Vibram’s new mid-range disc, the Obex. Below you’ll find the reviews. All three are different level players, which we hope will allow you to see the differences in the disc via their thoughts. The first part is by Jack Trageser, a pro based in California).

The new Vibram Obex can’t be beat. Believe me, I tried!

Over a couple months’ time I threw it into strong headwinds, threw it with as much power as I could muster, AND threw it with full power and a sharp anhyzer angle. It didn’t buckle and irrevocably turn over one single time. (As a reference point, I don’t have a huge arm, but can still exceed 400 feet with accuracy.)

Vibram’s new mid-range disc is the overstable compliment to the Ibex, which is pretty stable as well, but noticeably less so than the Obex. Steve Dodge of Vibram in fact describes it as a modified Ibex. According to Dodge, Vibram
“took the Ibex and added a Ridge bead to it for stability.”

I like having both because they feel the same in my hand, yet I can tell that the one is a step up from the other in a similar way that a five iron is similar, yet different, from a six iron in ball golf. I guess you could say they compliment each other, which I think is Vibram’s master plan for its eventual complete lineup.

I’m not one to talk in technical terms about a disc — diameter, bead, flight plate, and such. I’m all about feel and performance, and as with all the Vibram discs I’ve tested before, it scores very high in both categories.

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Noodle-Armed Review: Discmania FD Jackal

Rattling Chains writer Steve Hill takes on Discmania's FD Jackal in his first Noodle-Armed Review column. (photo by Kelly Hill)

The Noodle-Armed Review is intended for those players, like myself, who aren’t power arms and don’t quite hit 300 feet. Sure, it would be nice if you could throw longer, but let’s just hope you have a solid mid-range game to make up for it.

Disclaimer: If you throw more than 300 feet, please disregard the following review and assume that the disc in question flies like a mighty Pegasus on wings made of platinum and pixie dust. Or, keep reading and give it a shot for yourself.

In short, this one’s for the little guys.

The Reviewer

Name: Steve
Experience: 13 months
Favorite disc: DX Teebird
Throwing style: Lefty backhand
Max Distance: 280 feet
Preferred driver weight: 164-168 g
Aces: 0
PDGA Rating: Unknown
Summary: Just your average player who is happy to get a few rounds of disc golf in a week, but can’t seem to build up a cannon arm yet.

The Disc

Name: FD Jackal
Manufacturer: Discmania
Weight: 168 g
Color: Orange
Plastic: S-line (opaque premium)
Other available plastics: D-line (base), C-line (translucent premium)
Manufacturer’s Ratings: Speed 7 Glide 6 Turn -1 Fade 1

Manufacturer’s description: “Discmania’s first true fairway driver is also known as the Jackal. The FD is (such a) controllable low-speed driver, that once you learn its magic you’ll never leave it out of your bag. Packed with gigantic glide, this bad boy is also sneaky long if thrown accordingly. The Jackal is at its best when you need to make an accurate drive and land smoothly on the fairway.”

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