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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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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