Product Review: MVP Resistor

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

What’s in a name?

For most golf discs, not much. Monikers such as Teebird, Roc, Wizard, or Buzzz don’t tell much about how a disc will fly, rather lending themselves to artwork that will attract consumers. It’s the same as a car, beer, or many other products.

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For the Resistor, the new fairway driver from MVP Disc Sports, though, the name tells it all.

With a healthy serving of high speed stability, this disc resists turning over on a flat throw, helping it live up to MVP’s “stable-overstable” label.

With a rim width of 1.7 centimeters, the Resistor falls into the same speed class as the aforementioned Teebird, a slower disc that is meant to be used for control and precision. While this represents a step down in speed from MVP’s other driver offerings, I feel it represents addition by subtraction.

By dialing down the rim width, MVP is offering a disc that has the same beefy flight of its other stable-overstable driver, the Shock, while adding a level of reliability that comes from being housed within a more comfortable, easier to control shape.

At 174 grams, my flat-top, hot pink tester was the epitome of stable. When I gassed it, it would fly straight with a forward-penetrating fade at the end of its flight. In this regard, it reminded me of a longer version of the Tensor, MVP’s overstable mid-range.

Also similar to the Tensor was the Resistor’s flight on a hard anhyzer — it would turn a bit but never all the way over, then start to fade back at roughly three quarters of the way through its flight path. So, while it certainly has enough stability to be relied upon for a needed fade on dogleg holes, its not overly piggish to where it cannot be used to shape lines. In fact, I think it makes a better line shaper because you can intentionally torque it and know it will come back without fail.

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Product Review: Vibram unLace

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

Oh, Vibram.

It seems whenever I am away from the game for a while, Vibram releases a disc to get me interested in things again. Those who know me can tell you I’m a bit of a Vibram fan boy. I don’t hide it. That also means I usually hold the company to a much higher standard.

product_reviewI had been excited for the release of the Lace. And though others gushed over it, I couldn’t get into it. It was too much disc for me. I couldn’t handle it or make it do what it should do.

With that in mind, I was skeptical for the release of the unLace, Vibram’s second distance driver and the understable partner to the Lace.

Realize this, too — I carry one distance driver, and occassionally a second one. Both are Innova products and both are at 150 grams or lighter. The main one is my Blizzard Katana (132), and I sometimes carry a Valkyrie (150).

So how would a 172 unLace match up?

Holy smokes!

Maybe it’s because I haven’t thrown seriously in a couple of months. Could it be that I forgot all my bad habits and, in turn, was doing something right? I took the disc out on an open field to see what kind of things I could do with it.

The first throw went about 230 feet or so.

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Product Review: Bearded Brothers’ energy bars

By Steve Hill and P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

As far as energy bars are concerned, I don’t care if the company making it tells me it’s going to make me run faster, have more endurance, or recover from a workout more quickly. If it tastes like crap, it doesn’t matter.

So when I was presented with the chance to review Bearded Brothers’ offerings the ever-growing bar market, I was pleasantly surprised to find not only no claims of superhuman feats if I ate them, but also – more importantly – tremendous flavor.

product_reviewIndeed, each of the company’s four varieties offer complex, unique, but not over the top flavor profiles. Mighty Maca Chocolate is inherently sweet, but not overbearingly so. Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla mixes the bars titular flavors in a subtle fashion that leaves a pleasant aftertaste, while Colossal Coconut Mango balances texture and acidity in each bite.

The winner of the bunch, though, is Fabulous Ginger Peach. The combination doesn’t sound like it will work at first – for me, ginger brings thoughts of sushi and ale, not energy bars – but opening the package tells a different tale. The overwhelming freshness of the ginger hits the nostrils right off the bat, clearing your senses for the sweetness of the peach to come. Overall, it is an extremely invigorating flavor that mixes sweet and prickly at the same time.

While the taste is all these bars need to be successful, they have a lot more going for them, too. The packaging, for example, is something I wish more energy bars would embrace. It is resealable, so if you don’t want to scarf the whole bar at once, you can save it and keep it fresh. It is also shaped reasonably well so that it can fit in the back pocket of some running shorts, or a bicycle kit, or a small disc golf bag pocket. The outdoorsy background that the creators of Bearded Brothers boast is clearly evident in this detail.

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App Review: Disc Golf 3D

By Steve Hill and P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

If you’re like most disc golf junkies, you probably want to play more than you do. But life — work, family, inclement weather, whatever — gets in the way and keeps you off the course and indoors.

Have no fear. Disc Golf 3D is here.

Nuclear Nova's newest game -- Disc Golf 3D.

Nuclear Nova’s newest game — Disc Golf 3D.

Recently released by software company Nuclear Nova, Disc Golf 3D is available for download for Apple platforms and, for this disc golf junkie, was easy to get hooked on.

I had the luxury of enjoying the game on an iPad 2.

I eased into the fray by testing out the game’s practice mode, where I was presented with a selection of discs from which to choose. Using familiar speed-glide-stability ratings, I was able to play with animal-named plastic like Antelope (driver), Manatee (mid-range) and the aptly-named Sloth (putter).

Once on the course, players are treated to a flyover of each hole that serves to show the lay of the land and basket location. While the graphics aren’t flashy, they are serviceable, with trees that shake to emulate wind and varying levels of blue for water. Honestly, though, you won’t be playing this game for how it looks. You’ll be playing for the fun factor.

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Product Review: DGA Elite Shield disc golf bag

By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff

After using the DGA Elite Shield bag for more than a month, it is my favorite bag ever, as well as the best accessory product ever marketed by Disc Golf Association. Time will tell whether it passes the all-important durability test, but it seems to be very well equipped in that regard as well.

It should be mentioned right that one’s preference of disc golf bags — like the golf discs they are designed to carry — is a highly subjective matter. Most significant in this regard is size. Some prefer the minimalist approach — a bag that is as small as possible and meant to hold a few discs and maybe a water bottle. Others have a rather different philosophy, and represent the “If there is even the remotest chance I might need it, I will carry it” school of thought. These folks want to carry 30 or more discs, two wardrobe changes, enough food and water to survive in the wilderness for 10 days, and seven miscellaneous pockets and straps full of other stuff.

The DGA Elite Shield bag.

The DGA Elite Shield bag.

I prefer something between these two extremes. I want room for about 14 discs, a large water bottle, and the outer layer of clothing I’ll remove halfway through the round. I’d also like several convenient storage pockets for my snacks and little stuff, too. And, now that I’ve gotten used to backpack-style straps, my bag must at least include that as an option as well. Finally, I like to keep the cost reasonable — $75 or cheaper.

Keep in mind these personal preferences when I say that the Elite Shield bag by DGA is the ideal bag for me.

The company is best known for its dominant share of baskets installed worldwide and its pioneering status in the sport (perhaps you’ve heard of “Steady” Ed Headrick, the PDGA’s first member, the father of disc golf and the inventor of the Pole Hole catching devise?), but DGA also markets its own line of discs, apparel and accessories.

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Product review (and contest): Vibram Lace

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

Vibram has taken its next step in the disc golf market.

After months of anticipation, the Lace — Vibram’s first long-distance driver — was released to the public Nov. 23, or Black Friday as many refer to the day after Thanksgiving in the United States.

Reviews from around the Internet seem to be extremely positive for the new disc, which Vibram says is a stable driver.

When you get to Jack Trageser’s part of this review, you’ll get a more in-depth feel about the disc and what it can do for somebody with a stronger arm and with more ability to do what he wants with the disc.

My part is going to talk about the disc from the vantage point of a light-armed thrower and one who doesn’t have a lot of control over a disc.

Allow me to note I’m a Vibram user. The Ibex is one of my best discs as I can actually  get it to (usually) do what I want. I also putt with a Summit and, in the past, I’ve carried and used a Trak, V.P. and Ascent. So it’s safe to say I like Vibram’s products.

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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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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!

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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