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

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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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Ice Bowls a great way to experience tournament play on a lighter level

As clouds dotted the sky and a light breeze chilled the air on a 55-degree day in San Marcos, California, I couldn’t help but think one thing:

Not bad for an Ice Bowl.

steveSuch is the luxury that comes with Southern California living, an “Ice Bowl” in which a mild threat of rain showers makes players look skyward every few holes, then get back to business.

But, more than the weather, what I took from the 6th Annual San Marcos Ice Bowl, held January 6 at Montiel Park, was that the aforementioned business was actually quite casual, especially for what is dubbed a tournament.

Sure, there was a player meeting and scorecards were passed out. There were backups on tees and people wanting it to be quiet during a putt.

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October Madness arrives as the Players Cup begins

Dave Feldberg is the overall top seed for the Players Cup, which is running this weekend in Texas.

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

As disc golf continues to grow and evolve, different formats of tournaments, leagues and other aspects of the game will likely be tried to see what works.

Traditionally, tournaments are usually played in a normal setting — stroke play and in divisions. Occasionally, you’ll get a doubles tournament or some sort of non-traditional format, such as best-throw or alternate shot.

On a higher level, though, it pretty much remains the same across the board — stroke play over a certain number of rounds.

Insert the Players Cup, a three-day match-play format tournament featuring 64 of the top disc golfers in the world.

Vibram is the top sponsor of the Players Cup, which is scheduled to run Friday through Sunday at Twin Parks Country Club in Dripping Springs, Texas, which is about 10 minutes outside of Austin.

“I have always wanted to create a true disc golf spectacle,” said Steve Dodge, Vibram Disc Golf’s product manager. “Something that is compelling to watch and will get the average disc golfer excited to be a part of. A bracketed match-play tournament, like the NCAA March Madness, was exactly what I was looking for.”

Enter October Madness.

Originally founded in 2005 by Mike Barnett of Sun King Discs, the Players Cup served as an end-of-season celebration with players who had won events during the year. When the event took a hiatus in 2008, Dodge took that opportunity to discuss with Barnett the idea of making it into a match-play championship.

This tournament marks the third year of the setup.

“In the first two years, we have created an online bracket that people fill out and win prizes,” Dodge said. “The goal of the Players Cup is to celebrate the growth of our sport, create a spectacle and generate interest in watching the best disc golfers in the world.”

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Words with Wysocki: Exploring Philly and winning the Yetter

There are times when you leave one tournament and don’t know what’s next. Though I wanted to play the Eric C. Yetter Tournament, I wasn’t entered. So, I thought I was going to be heading home.

Then I got a call from Darren Dolezel, who told me I could have his spot. He called the tournament director to tell him he’d give up his spot for me, which was awesome. But the TD didn’t go for it, saying it wasn’t fair for all the others on the waitlist, which is understandable.

I looked at the waitlist to see if it was worth going to the tournament or if I had a chance to get in. I noticed my name wasn’t as high on the list as I thought. It turned out the TD had forgotten to put me on the waitlist because of a miscommunication. He squared that up and I ended up getting in.

After all that, I headed out to Philadelphia for the Yetter, which I was pumped for because I like the tournament and the course. I played in it the year before and placed third. I was looking to improve on that.

In Philadelphia, I stayed with my buddy Dan Meers, who lives downtown. He was an awesome host. We got to see the Rocky statue and we also ate a famous Philly cheesesteak at a place called Gooey Looie’s. It was one of the best cheesesteaks I’ve ever had. It was 20 ounces of steak — so one of the biggest I’ve ever had!

The guy working at Gooey Looie’s told me the Food Network was coming the next day to film. That’s how you know you picked a special place.

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Discraft’s Ace Race continues to evolve in its 10th year

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

No matter how old you are, or how long you have been playing, everyone who partakes in disc golf wants to achieve that ultimate goal — release the disc, watch its gorgeous path through the air, and SPLASH! Ace!

Even if you are a golfer who has a list of aces as long as Santa Claus’ naughty and nice scroll, it’s always fun to take a run at the chains, and Discraft offers that each fall with their annual Ace Race.

Now in its 10th year, the Discraft Ace Race is comprised of more than 300 individual events held over nearly three months that bring golfers — both veterans and those who have never touched a disc outside of their DVD players — together for the sole purpose of trying to hit as many aces as possible in one day. With this year’s event boasting more than 16,000 participants from 12 countries on three continents, it is the largest single disc golf event in the world, according to Discraft marketing director Brian Sullivan.

Coming from humble beginnings in Michigan and rapidly ascending to more than 50 events in three years, Sullivan said the goal of the Ace Race originally was to serve as the middleman between new players and their more established brethren.

The 2012 Ace Race disc.

“Our research has shown that the average new disc golfer takes three years to make the transition from a one-disc-wonder who plays a few times per year to joining a league and contributing to the local club’s growth,” Sullivan said. “Ace Race was conceived from the beginning to be a vehicle that would help to bridge the gap between casual players and organized clubs, serving as an introductory activity.”

The concept, for those unfamiliar, is pretty simple — Discraft designs a prototype disc each year that is released to the public specifically for the Ace Race. Participants pay $25 to enter the event, receiving two discs (as well as other goodies) that they use to simply tee off and try for an ace on each hole. No birdies, no pars. Just pure, unadulterated ace racing.

Sullivan admits, however, that Discraft did not devise the Ace Race concept all on their own. They just put their own spin on it.

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