Exploring a new course makes for an interesting round

binguniv

Binghamton University’s new disc golf course has the potential to be top-notch. It also proved to be a crazy welcome back for one disc golfer. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Do you ever get that feeling where it’s like you are throwing a disc for the first time?

Though I get a small part of that feeling on almost every outing, I really was overwhelmed with it a couple of weekends ago.

harmer_sigIt was like I was pulling out plastic for the first time.

It had been more than three months since I had last played the game, so I was excited to meet with two others and play a round. We met at Binghamton University in upstate New York for a round on a new course. This course, which had been open for less than a month, was designed by Dan Doyle, who also worked on the design of the famed Warwick course.

And, I’m sure, many of you may have seen the interview where Ken Climo put Warwick up there as his favorite course in the United States.

So forgive me if I was a little giddy when told by a friend than Doyle was the designer of this course.

Binghamton University is a deceptively large campus. It doesn’t seem like it should be as big as it is, but there is quite a bit of land. This course is spread over the upper part of the campus, going in and out of the woods, some open land and the occasional parking lot.

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Poll 58: Walking to courses

Before we move on with the poll, the Rattling Chains staff would like to thank everybody who made women’s week so successful. We’ll continue this annually as long as the site is up and running.

weekly_pollWe’ll also write women’s stories throughout the year, so if you have ideas, feel free to e-mail.

And now on with the show.

One of the other writers on the site, Jack Trageser, sent a whole heap of poll questions to use a few months back. One of them seemed really interesting because it shows the difference between ball golf and disc golf.

He noted that sometimes, a disc golf course is located a bit from parking. So how far will somebody walk to play a course?

Yes, it may seem a little odd to some, but consider one course in upstate New York. It’s not the greatest of courses and, unless you really were looking, most wouldn’t know it existed. There are baskets, but it’s not the easiest to navigate. And to get to it? A good half-mile hike around a pond.

But we’ll get back to all of that in a few moments. First, let’s check back with our last poll, when we asked if you had helped in the growth of the women’s game.

Despite being on the site for two weeks, the poll garnered a disappointing 73 voters. Of those, 81 percent (59 votes) said they had helped the growth. The other 19 percent (14 votes) said no.

Let’s see what some people had to say:

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Commentary: Get courses looking good to make them last

Working on a fresh piece of land is like having a blank canvas, which makes disc golf course design an art.

jenny_cookAs a result, when designers and contributors take the time for the careful design and implementation of the course and any type of course modifications — big or small — players get an unforgettable experience.

In the current world of disc golf course design, there are several aspects of design that can greatly increase the reputation of a course. There are many courses around the world that have made adjustments to their aesthetics, which increase the playing experience. For example, a hanging basket at the edge of a riverbank or a well-placed rock formation along a walkway to the next hole can make memories. General upkeep and monthly maintenance quickly increases the novelty.

Standout courses

Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, Oregon, is home to one of the best courses I have ever had the opportunity to play. I speak of this course from my experience of having played the original layout as well as the tournament layout (two courses) for the Beaver State Fling. From wide fairways and fir trees
that dwarf the baskets and people who play among them to nicely grooved tee pads and the overall scenery, this course is a must for your bucket list. The result of such attention to detail and thought is a disc golf course to which very few in the country can even compare.

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Poll 34: Favorite course

(EDIT — Nov. 13 — Please read the poll question at the bottom. This is not asking you what your dream course if money were no object. It’s asking what your favorite course is of ones you’ve already played. Thanks).

This week’s poll is a bit different.

There are no choices with this one — it’s going to be based fully on your comments on this post.

Hopefully the answers for this poll will give other players places to research and check out. Maybe there’s a hidden gem. Or one that is already well-known.

Let me not get too far ahead of myself, however.

Before we get into this week’s poll, however, let’s go back and check out last week’s results.

We asked you if you could only play one brand for the rest of time, what would it be? The results didn’t shock me as I figured the big two would be at the top and they were.

With 179 people letting us know what they would do, Innova was the runaway winner with 79 votes — 44 percent. Discraft was second with 47 votes (26 percent). It dropped off even more after that as Latitude 64 (25 votes/14 percent), Discmania (10 votes/6 percent) and Vibram (7 votes/4 percent) followed.

Other (4 votes/2 percent), MVP (3 votes/2 percent), Millennium (2 votes/1 percent), Lightning (1 vote/1 percent), DGA (1 vote/1 percent) and Gateway (0 votes) filled out the rest of the choices.

Let’s check in to see what some others said:

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Signage can go a long way in making a course top-notch

It doesn’t matter what kind of sign it is — as long as there are signs to help people navigate their way around courses. (photo by Jenny Cook)

By Jenny Cook — Rattling Chains staff

Navigation issues on the disc golf course: How would you rate your home course?

Navigating a disc golf should not be difficult.

I once drove 400 miles eager to play legitimate par 4s and hole-shaping shots to test my game. After the first few holes at this course, my mood suddenly changed when I began struggling to navigate my way around the course.

If the obvious natural paths cutting through the trees and worn-down grass past the basket take me where I need to go next, then I’m a happy camper and no signage is needed.

Signs attached to the bottom of baskets can be extremely helpful. (photo by Jenny Cook)

For times when I look past the basket to five different and equally worn-down trails, with no indication of which one to take, I’ll use common sense of course flow to make my decision.

But I don’t always get it right on the first try, which means I’m obligated to try each one until I find the next hole. One or two holes of this out of 18 is not a bad ratio. It’s when the number of times I experience this increases throughout my round that I become frustrated — especially if the paths lead you to several different unmarked holes.

Now it’s time for technology — if you have a phone signal, that is. I pull up DGCoursereview.com on my phone to compare the hole I thought I should be on to the photos on the website.

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Poll 30: Time at the course

I know some people out there live at a disc golf course. And I say that figuratively and, well, literally for some.

But there are some of us who just can’t do it — despite maybe wanting to.

That will be the topic of this week’s poll and we’ll get to that shortly.

Until then, let’s kick back and check out last week’s poll.

Not many people voted last week — a whopping 66. Maybe that’s why people aren’t watching the game? They are out playing!

We asked you how many events you watch per year as a spectator. I didn’t see any this year and I was disappointed to miss the Vibram Open as it’s quite the event. Alas, this might be something that needs to be worked on as a game. If people think the game is going to expand a lot without people watching, it just won’t happen.

To be fair, some may be very happy with how the game is right now — and that’s perfectly fine, too.

So how did the readers vote? Twenty-six (39 percent) of voters said they don’t spectate at any events. That was followed by 1-2 (25 votes/38 percent), 3-5 (11 votes/17 percent), and a tie between 6-10 and more than 10, which drew two votes (3 percent) each.

Maybe down the line we’ll try and figure out why the numbers are this way. Until then, however, let’s see what some readers had to say.

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How do you rate a disc golf course?

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

It is true of most things to which the words “subjective” and “opinion” may be applied. And so it is with disc golf courses, as well. When I read user-submitted course reviews on dgcoursereview.com, it’s clear that different people value different features in a disc golf course.

Disc golf courses can be quite unassuming.

Some of the most popular — and most famous — are almost invisible to the uninformed eye when not populated with clusters of people flinging bright colored flying discs. That is because one of the elements of disc golf of which its practitioners and proponents are most proud is its ability to conform to nearly any hikeable environment — with minimal or no alteration. In fact, for a large part of the disc golfing population, the more rugged, the better.

And then there are those — no less ardent in their love of the sport — who highly value open, flat fairways where their discs can soar unimpeded by the “thwack!” of a tree and have no chance of plummeting into a deep, dark brambly chasm.

It’s all a personal preference.

Some players like a remote course that is so removed from the hustle and bustle of civilization (and, they might say, the watchful eyes of Big Brother) that having to hike half a mile on foot just to reach it is a bonus. For others, that would be a deal-killer. They want convenience, safety, and even supervision, and couldn’t care less if the park is shared with other users and bordered by streets with cars constantly zipping by.

For some folks it’s all about the equipment.

If a course doesn’t have some type of permanent teepads and baskets (as opposed to posts or other objects), they have zero interest in playing it. On the other end of the spectrum, I know people who still regularly play courses like Old Sawmill in Pebble Beach, Calif., or Little Africa in Carmichael, Calif., even though neither has regular targets or teepads. They do so because the courses are set in amazing places, convenient to them, and/or consist of great hole designs. But they obviously don’t mind the lack of official equipment.

So what makes a course great in your eyes?

Personally, I break it down into two broad categories: courses that I can play on a regular or semi-regular basis (home courses), and courses I may only get to play once or twice (road courses).

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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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