Jamaican ideals, constant innovation drive Small Axe Disc Golf Co.

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

The island nation of Jamaica – home of reggae, coastal beauty, and Olympic champion Usain Bolt – at first does not seem like the source of inspiration for a burgeoning disc golf company.

Indeed, the country boasts zero proper disc golf courses.

SmallAxeLogo

For the minds behind Small Axe Disc Golf Co., though, vacations to the country have provided a mindset and energy that they have brought back stateside and injected into their products.

Billed by founder Damon Neth as a “disc golf lifestyle and products company,” Small Axe in the past year has introduced three products to market, all geared toward, as the company’s art director puts it, the “disc-nerd” in every player.

From the Puck – an interlocking putter and driver mini set that can hold coins, first aid kits, and anything else you can think of – to Chucker’s Chalk, which packages grip chalk into a disc golf bag-friendly bottle – Small Axe is aiming to bring players products that combine innovation and function, all while maintaining the core reason most people pick up a disc in the first place – fun.

“It started a long time ago with the feeling that disc golf could benefit from a positive, joyful brand that celebrated the fun and cooperative spirit of disc golf,” Neth said.

After coming to enjoy interlocking minis, Neth dreamed up the idea of a putter and driver hooking together as something that would be more appealing to consumers, he said.

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Put the Sharpie down and back away from the basket

Dear Disc Golfer,

Congratulations, you hit an ace! I am sure it was a crowning achievement in your plastic throwing career, and something you’ll tell your grandchildren about many years from now. We’re very proud of you.

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, allow me to let you in on a little secret: No one cares.

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OK, OK, I’m sure someone cares. I bet if you send your mom a text message she’ll respond with a smiley, and the group you were playing with that day probably pitched in for a frosty cold one. So there is some care.

But you know who doesn’t care? Everyone else to ever play that basket, or anyone who has to walk by and see your signature on it.

That’s right, I’m talking to you, Mr. or Mrs. Basket Signer. We’re all happy about that ace, but did you really have to deface an innocent sheath of metal with your poorly scrawled Sharpie? Couldn’t you have given high-fives to your friends and moved on, or perhaps signed the disc with which you hit the ace?

No.

Instead, you had to vandalize a valuable, and very visible, piece of equipment that is the cornerstone of our sport. Your arrogance and need for attention has caused an eyesore. In a sport that already has enough stigmas, you are adding another to it by needlessly putting graffiti on a piece of the course.

It’s just a disc golf basket, you probably thought to yourself. Everyone does it. It’s part of the game.

No, it isn’t.

You know what it is? Bad karma. I bet within the next day or two something awful happened, like you lost your perfectly seasoned Buzzz in a ravine, or you caged a gimme putt to lose out on cash at league night.

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18 songs for 18 holes: A disc golf mixtape

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Of the two venues I refer to as my home courses, only one – Brengle Terrace Park in Vista, California — can make me feel like a naïve post-adolescent all over again.

Marked by tight lines and peppered with elevation and tricky pin placements, Brengle Terrace takes me on an emotional roller coaster each time I play it. Like the girls I pursued in high school and college, it makes me feel like I have a fleeting chance at glory, only to shoot me down and tell me it just wants to be friends.

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Still, like the sad sap I once was, I keep coming back for more, hoping one day it will see me for the disc golfer I am.

Since this course is my disc golf version of unrequited love, I thought it was only appropriate to make like my 17-22 year-old self and try to win it over with an awesome mixtape. After all, what female didn’t swoon when presented with a collection of songs that you took the time to put together in her honor?

What’s that? None of them swooned? Oh, that’s right. I forgot.

At any rate, the personality of this course lends itself to a collection of songs that captures its spirit. Some of these selections are obvious and some have subtle undertones that take a deeper listen to be revealed. And, like any good mixtape, there are a couple gems from relatively obscure artists, just to show you how much work I really put into it.

(And yes, I am aware that we don’t have actual mixtapes anymore. Just humor me on this one.)

I lean more toward the rock-based side of things in my musical tastes, and that is reflected on this list. Plus, some good, heavier music puts me in a good mood to go out and try to conquer the course.

So, without further ado, I present 18 Songs for 18 Holes: A disc golf mixtape. Enjoy.

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Happy Independence Day!

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

What better way to celebrate America’s birthday than rattling some chains today, right?

But before you head out, here’s some eye candy in the form of patriotic disc art. A big thanks to the readers who contributed these photos for everyone else to enjoy.

Be safe, have fun, and happy Independence Day!

A patriot on a Legacy Patriot, courtesy of Adam Hassett of Sweet Hat! Disc Supply.

A patriot on a Legacy Patriot, courtesy of Adam Hassett of Sweet Hat! Disc Supply.

A red, white, and blue shaving cream dye, courtesy of Brian Pierce.

A red, white, and blue shaving cream dye, courtesy of Brian Pierce.

A whole stash of U.S.A.-themed discs, courtesy of Army Infantry Sergeant Andrew Belet. Thank you for your service!

A whole stash of U.S.A.-themed discs, courtesy of Army Infantry Sergeant Andrew Belet. Thank you for your service!

More patriots, this time with the spin-dye treatment by Dan Howard on some Skulboy discs. Photo courtesy of Skulboy himself.

More patriots, this time with the spin-dye treatment by Dan Howard on some Skulboy discs. Photo courtesy of Skulboy.

Regardless of your political leanings, Kevin Morrow's talent shown on this glow Leopard is undeniable.

Regardless of your political leanings, Kevin Morrow’s talent shown on this glow Leopard is undeniable.

Nothing like getting a flag dye straight from the Innova factory on an Augusta Wraith, courtesy of Jeff Corbin.

Nothing like getting a flag dye straight from the Innova factory on an Augusta Wraith, courtesy of Jeff Corbin.

A Dynamic Discs Dyemax in honor of 9/11, courtesy of Wade Racher.

A Dynamic Discs Dyemax in honor of 9/11, courtesy of Wade Racher.

A disc alone wasn't enough for Kevin Morrow, who also blasts these patriotic chains.

A disc alone wasn’t enough for Kevin Morrow, who also blasts these patriotic chains.

Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at steve@rattlingchains.com and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.

Schusterick overcomes heat, himself to win Beaver State Fling

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster season for Will Schusterick.

After a dubious, dramatic playoff victory at the Memorial that found him in it only because of a scorecard error, he then posted an eighth place finish at the Texas State Championships, followed by 13th and 10th place National Tour showings.

Will Schusterick throws during this past weekend’s Beaver State Fling. (photo courtesy PDGA Media).

A couple of top-five finishes later, though, and as the season rolls toward the World Championships it seems Schusterick is peaking again at the right time.

The fourth-ranked player in the world took a share of the lead early at last weekend’s Beaver State Fling in Estacada, Oregon and never looked back, holding on for a two shot victory with a 35-under-par 209 to earn $3,600 in prize money.

Nate Doss shot a 33-under 211 to take second place and earn $2,300, while Ricky Wysocki and Dave Feldberg tied for the third place purse of $1,685 with 32-under 212s. Adam Hunt threw a 31-under 213 to round out the top five and take home $1,400.

Heading into Sunday’s final round with a two-stroke lead over Feldberg, Schusterick said his consistently long drives saved him on a day where he lost his putting stroke for the first part of the round.

“I actually missed seven putts inside the circle the last round, but they were all for birdie,” Schusterick said. “I was putting horribly the last round. Like, terrible.”

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McBeth puts on his Sunday best for KCWO win

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

Sunday just seems to be Paul McBeth’s day.

After trailing Nikko Locastro by two strokes heading into the final day of play at last weekend’s Kansas City Wide Open, the reigning World Champion shot a combined 73 over 27 holes to leapfrog Locastro and secure the win and the $2,240 payout with a 47-under par 224.

Paul McBeth earned his second National Tour victory of the year this past weekend, rallying to win the Kansas City Wide Open. (photo courtesy PDGA Media)

Nate Doss notched his highest National Tour finish of the season, earning $1,715 for second place with a 42-under 229, while Locastro finished in third with a 39-under 232 to win $1,310. Paul Ulibarri (-37, 234) and Will Schusterick (-32, 209 without Final 9 participation) rounded out the Top 5.

For McBeth, his Sunday performance followed the pattern of his other two big victories this year at the “Steady” Ed Memorial Master’s Cup and the Copenhagen Open — play solid opening rounds to stay within a few throws of contention, then play lights out on the final day to blow past the competition.

The 22-year-old said the finality of a tournament’s last day motivates him to succeed.

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Wysocki extends NT points lead; Hokom takes women’s crown

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

Elevation? No problem.

Bum leg? Not an issue.

Course record? No big deal. Twice.

Ricky Wysocki earned his third National Tour event of the season this past weekend at the Great Lakes Open. (photo courtesy of PDGA Media)

That sums up Ricky Wysocki’s performance at this past weekend’s Great Lakes Open National Tour Series event, where the Prodigy phenom racked up his third NT victory with a three-round 32-under-par 154.

Prodigy teammate Garrett Gurthie shot a 23-under par 163 to place second, and Will Schusterick and Devan Owens tied for third place with 22-under 164s. Paul McBeth rounded out the top five with a 24-under 165, which took place at the much-revered Toboggan Championship Course at Kensington Metropark in Milford, Michigan.

As has been the case in the other events he has won this year, though, this one was all Wysocki from the first day.

After Owens held the lead briefly with a course-record 52 on Friday, Wysocki bested the score later that day with an 11-under 51. Wysocki then took that one shot lead and extended it to six by throwing a 1077-rated 50 – breaking his own Toboggan course record, all while playing through a calf injury – on Saturday.

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Confessions of a lightweight

It took me a long time to work up to this point, but I am finally ready to admit the truth:

I’m a lightweight, and proud of it.

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In a game dominated by those throwing max weight drivers in search of the biggest distance – and, in many cases, ego – possible, I am man enough to admit that I am perfectly content throwing my Latitude 64 Opto Diamond for most drives. Standing out on the fairway with its hot pink hue and weighing in at a whopping 154 grams, it is now a staple of my game.

In fact, I am building all of my drivers around this weight class for the foreseeable future, and I am quite pleased with the results so far.

It hasn’t always been like this, though. In fact, during my two-plus years of disc golfing, I have taken some bad advice, ignored some good, and felt some pain to finally get to this point.

Let’s start with the bad advice.

When I first started playing, I headed out to league night at my local course – not to play, but to learn. The president of the local club was nice enough to show me around and take a look in my bag, which at the time consisted of an Innova DX Valkyrie and the Leopard/Shark/Aviar trifecta found in the company’s starter pack sold in big box stores.

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TeeBoxx seeks to be more than a vending machine

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

After spending most of his life working in marketing and advertising, which included producing commercials and an ill-fated anti-hangover beverage, Aaron Martin said he realized he needed to branch out on his own.

“I got tired of making other businesses money,” he said. “So that’s why I started going into business for myself.”

PrintAs a longtime member of the Omaha, Nebraska disc golf scene and a former player for Team Discraft, Martin has watched the sport grow to its current level, bringing both new players and business opportunities to the table. But he has also witnessed firsthand the wear and tear associated with the sport’s boom.

“After playing a lot of courses all over the country, I saw a lot of erosion and trash, and a lot of things that needed to be updated,” Martin said. “That was part of the problem, so I sought out to find a solution.”

That solution has manifested in the form of TeeBoxx, the automated disc golf retail center and accompanying business Martin and his partners have pioneered.

More than a machine

The story of TeeBoxx is nearly five years in the making. Recognizing that most of the money coming through disc golf was associated with retail, Martin – who now serves as the company’s chief marketing officer – and his partners decided that an automated machine was the best way to offer something new.

“Disc golf has been something that I’ve really wanted to be a part of and somehow figure out a sustainable business through it,” he said.

At its most basic level, TeeBoxx is a vending machine much like those that dispense candy and other snacks. With the familiar spinning coils holding discs in place and a keypad used to make a selection, the mechanism is one most people should be familiar with.

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Good friends and good beer make for a great disc golf day trip

Disc golf is a fringe sport. I make no bones about that, and I understand it isn’t for everyone.

That being said, I am always looking to get more people to try out the game. I figure that, since it is relatively inexpensive and I have had such a good time playing, others might get hooked as easily.

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So when I was able to swindle seven of my friends — most of whom had never played — into driving an hour and 20 minutes from home to play a course, I thought I had hit the jackpot.

Thinking back on it, I suppose the beer probably helped, too.

You see, the 80-minute trek wasn’t just for any old course. It landed us at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, Calif. Home to its own valley language and delicious craft brews like Hop Ottin’ IPA and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, the facility also boasts an 18-hole disc golf course.

In short, this place is my own personal Mecca. The fact that I suckered my buddies into coming, though, was a total bonus.

It all started with some innocent emails. My friend Shane Andersen was coming back into the states for some R&R after working in the Middle East for a few months, and he was hoping everyone might be able to get together in our hometown in Northern California.

Since I had been wanting an excuse to head to Anderson Valley, I casually threw out the idea of heading up for the day, playing a round of golf, and imbibing a bit — emphasis on imbibing. Expecting to be roundly rejected, I didn’t get my hopes up too high, knowing that I could always go shoot a round at the local course with my dad and still do plenty of drinking of craft beers without the big trip.

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