Rattling Chains named top disc golf blog

Thank you.

There’s not much more else I can say.

Late Monday night, we were informed that Rattling Chains was named the top disc golf blog by DiscGolfStation.com. In the growing age of digital media and blogging, this is quite an honor.

harmer_sigWe were contacted by Disc Golf Station a week ago, letting us know we were being considered. I answered the two questions I was asked and sent things back.

Then we got the news.

I’m obviously stoked — for the site, for those who contribute, but most of all for those who have supported us for the past 10 months. The fan base this site has built might not be as large as some other disc golf sites, but we have a loyal and vocal group who will tell it like it is.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

These fans will tell us when we’ve done well, tell us when we’ve messed up, when we’ve misspelled something or when we got something right. And I like that. They send us ideas and thoughts and it helps us grow as a site.

Clint Henderson, of Disc Golf Station, said they sent e-mails to about 20 disc golf blogs, and considered many others in the initial process. It’s nice to know how we stacked up against so many other blogs.

When I started Rattling Chains in 2012, the goal was simple: create a disc golf blog that covers the sport like no other place — with journalistic integrity, entertaining and original content, and consistency. Add all that together, and our hope was to help grow the sport through the written word as we dive into stories others aren’t telling.

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Break it down — being simple with disc golf can make the game more enjoyable

It’s amazing what happens when you can break things down in a simple way.

Over the years, I’ve had my bouts with being too competitive in sports, despite knowing I was usually over-matched.

Years ago, I was a semi-competitive ball golfer. It’s not that I was great by any means. But within the divisions in which I competed, I could do decently well. On my home course, I never shot anything better than eight-over-par, and that only happened a few times. Often enough, I was more in the range of plus-12 to plus-20, on average. Sometimes better, sometimes much worse.

harmer_sigDespite knowing I had a ton of limitations, didn’t hit the range as much as I should and didn’t understand the game as well as I thought I did, I still got irritated and would get into my own head.

That’s not a rarity.

Up until the past few years, I took sports way too seriously. I over-thought things. And, to be fair, I’m not the greatest athlete. That doesn’t take away the feeling that I should do better than I do.

And, I won’t lie, it’s irritating to watch others do well when I think I should be doing much better.

A few years back, I hit a wall, realizing I took things too seriously. I needed to do something to calm it down a bit. You know, the approach of taking a deep breath and looking at the big picture.

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A hearty thanks to the readers who help us continually improve

Allow me to take the time to thank everybody who has given us feedback during the past couple of polls.

Recently, a few of us have been wrestling with how to move forward with the future of Rattling Chains. I have always realized how big of an undertaking this blog is and I’ve often felt blessed with having so many talented writers join the staff.

The reality is, I’d never have gotten through nearly 10 months without having a staff — an unpaid volunteer one at that.

Alas, one thing I always knew would happen would be change. Jumping into something like this, there was always the realization we’d have to change with what worked and what didn’t. And, with no money involved, you have to roll with the punches the blog brings, such as content.

Remember, everybody who writes for this site does it because they love to write about a sport they love. And, real life takes precedence.

During one of those stretches, my will was tested. Not because I was mad or upset at anyone, but because I faced the reality of what this site is. It’s an endeavor I took on without having anybody else to write. I got lucky people wanted to be involved and jumped on board. And they believed in what the vision was.

As the site has grown, it’s taken different forms. We went from being a seven-post per week site to three and, currently, back to five. We’ve been pretty good about doing things on a regular basis and it’s been fun.

This isn’t a job, however.

Writer’s block happens. People have other things come up. The site becomes a bore in stretches because one just doesn’t want to write. I spent many years in newspapers — I understand it happens.

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Vibram leaving its footprint on disc golf

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

This story has the makings of the Little Engine That Could.

Despite being different than traditional disc golf manufacturers, Vibram Disc Golf continually seems to be working with a bit of that “I think I can” mentality. And, because it’s different, the company also seems to have a strong, cult-like following.

Steve Dodge has been one of the driving forces behind Vibram Disc Golf’s rise in the disc industry. (photo by P.J. Harmer)

Vibram, well-known for its shoe soles and its FiveFingers barefoot shoes, has only been a part of the disc golf world for a few years. Despite its short existence in the sport, the Concord, Mass., company has made some extremely big strides in becoming a major player.

The biggest difference between Vibram and other disc manufacturers? It produces rubber-based discs instead of plastic.

“Since 2009, when Steve Dodge agreed to join the Vibram team to help guide the development of a line of discs and expanded materials, we have been committed to being a part of the exciting evolution of disc golf,” Vibram USA President Mike Gionfriddo said. “We strive to support and grow Vibram Disc Golf and the sport as a whole. We believe that Vibram Disc Golf has a bright future.”

The history

Moving to the family farm in 2003 started the path for Dodge to become a key figure in the disc golf world.

His initial idea? Build a course, a pro shop and a major tournament. He teamed with his cousin, Tom Southwick, to design the Maple Hill Disc Golf Course and start the Marshall Street Disc Golf Championship.

In 2008, Dodge left Marshall Street and the tournament stopped.

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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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Destination Lancaster: A mini disc golf Mecca in Amish Country

Three of the original members of the MDGF — from left, Merrill Detweiler, Linc Morgan and Donnie Brooks, pose next to Brooks’ original prototype mini basket at his course near Lancaster, Pa.

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

Nestled within the beautiful surroundings of Amish Country in Lancaster, Pa., is a virtual disc golf paradise.

The paradise differs a bit, however, from what many might think about when it comes to a disc golf haven. This is on a smaller scale.

A much smaller scale.

In fact, you could call it a mini paradise.

It’s almost shocking to know what’s in this area — nearly a dozen mini disc golf courses. It’s the home of the Mini Disc Golf Federation, a tight-knit group that works to spread the word of mini disc golf — a sport like the “bigger” version with a few rule changes to help with the smaller scale of the game.

For many, the mini discs they see or use are for one thing — marking their lies during a round of big disc golf.

But these discs — many of them, anyway — can be thrown. Sometimes, quite a distance, too. It’s rumored some minis have been thrown upward of 400 feet.

Mini baskets and courses can be put in small areas, including residential areas — such as this basket at Starry Stompin’ Grounds outside of Lancaster.

A visit to the Lancaster County area can show you how creative and different mini disc golf is.

“Mini disc golf has more oohs, ahhs, and wows than big golf does,” said Linc Morgan, who owns a mini disc golf course in Lancaster. “It’s quicker, seems more relaxed, played in smaller places and it’s versatile.”

Morgan plays both mini and big disc golf — at high levels. The second member of the MDGF (.00002), Morgan is also an earlier member of the PDGA (7518) and is a pro¬† player with a 986 rating.

The MDGF

Created in 2004, the MDGF has slowly started to grow. There are nearly 100 members who have paid to become part of the group.

“We did it to grow the sport,” said Donnie Brooks, the original member of the MDGF and the head honcho for the group. “Basically to promote it and get more courses in.”

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