MVP Disc Sports announces surprise offshoot brand, Axiom Discs

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

The busiest young manufacturer in disc golf just got busier.

After a week-long social media campaign sprinkled with teaser photos and vague hints, MVP Disc Sports on Friday announced the formation of a new, separate brand called Axiom Discs.

AxiomDiscs_pyramid-text-logoBilled as “the new style of science,” Axiom Discs will still contain MVP’s signature overmold technology and be produced and distributed by the Michigan-based company.

So how does this new venture differ from the typical MVP output?

Axiom Discs will feature a variety of overmold and core color combinations, as well as new molds that differ in flight and profile from MVP’s existing lineup.

While the new color combinations are a nod to the first discs the company created, MVP Disc Sports co-founder Brad Richardson said the inspiration for creating this offshoot came from the company’s line of glow plastic.

“We attribute the exotic look of our Eclipse discs to be an initiating factor,” Richardson said. “Most of our Eclipse sales are people looking for the vibrant colors that result from the brighter overmold. However, the expensive glowing agents add a lot to the cost of the Eclipse Series, so we decided to branch out from the traditional black rim to make those vivid colors available at a comparable cost to the standard Neutron and Proton series.”

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Jamaican ideals, constant innovation drive Small Axe Disc Golf Co.

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

The island nation of Jamaica – home of reggae, coastal beauty, and Olympic champion Usain Bolt – at first does not seem like the source of inspiration for a burgeoning disc golf company.

Indeed, the country boasts zero proper disc golf courses.

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For the minds behind Small Axe Disc Golf Co., though, vacations to the country have provided a mindset and energy that they have brought back stateside and injected into their products.

Billed by founder Damon Neth as a “disc golf lifestyle and products company,” Small Axe in the past year has introduced three products to market, all geared toward, as the company’s art director puts it, the “disc-nerd” in every player.

From the Puck – an interlocking putter and driver mini set that can hold coins, first aid kits, and anything else you can think of – to Chucker’s Chalk, which packages grip chalk into a disc golf bag-friendly bottle – Small Axe is aiming to bring players products that combine innovation and function, all while maintaining the core reason most people pick up a disc in the first place – fun.

“It started a long time ago with the feeling that disc golf could benefit from a positive, joyful brand that celebrated the fun and cooperative spirit of disc golf,” Neth said.

After coming to enjoy interlocking minis, Neth dreamed up the idea of a putter and driver hooking together as something that would be more appealing to consumers, he said.

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Confessions of a lightweight

It took me a long time to work up to this point, but I am finally ready to admit the truth:

I’m a lightweight, and proud of it.

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In a game dominated by those throwing max weight drivers in search of the biggest distance – and, in many cases, ego – possible, I am man enough to admit that I am perfectly content throwing my Latitude 64 Opto Diamond for most drives. Standing out on the fairway with its hot pink hue and weighing in at a whopping 154 grams, it is now a staple of my game.

In fact, I am building all of my drivers around this weight class for the foreseeable future, and I am quite pleased with the results so far.

It hasn’t always been like this, though. In fact, during my two-plus years of disc golfing, I have taken some bad advice, ignored some good, and felt some pain to finally get to this point.

Let’s start with the bad advice.

When I first started playing, I headed out to league night at my local course – not to play, but to learn. The president of the local club was nice enough to show me around and take a look in my bag, which at the time consisted of an Innova DX Valkyrie and the Leopard/Shark/Aviar trifecta found in the company’s starter pack sold in big box stores.

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Good friends and good beer make for a great disc golf day trip

Disc golf is a fringe sport. I make no bones about that, and I understand it isn’t for everyone.

That being said, I am always looking to get more people to try out the game. I figure that, since it is relatively inexpensive and I have had such a good time playing, others might get hooked as easily.

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So when I was able to swindle seven of my friends — most of whom had never played — into driving an hour and 20 minutes from home to play a course, I thought I had hit the jackpot.

Thinking back on it, I suppose the beer probably helped, too.

You see, the 80-minute trek wasn’t just for any old course. It landed us at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, Calif. Home to its own valley language and delicious craft brews like Hop Ottin’ IPA and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, the facility also boasts an 18-hole disc golf course.

In short, this place is my own personal Mecca. The fact that I suckered my buddies into coming, though, was a total bonus.

It all started with some innocent emails. My friend Shane Andersen was coming back into the states for some R&R after working in the Middle East for a few months, and he was hoping everyone might be able to get together in our hometown in Northern California.

Since I had been wanting an excuse to head to Anderson Valley, I casually threw out the idea of heading up for the day, playing a round of golf, and imbibing a bit — emphasis on imbibing. Expecting to be roundly rejected, I didn’t get my hopes up too high, knowing that I could always go shoot a round at the local course with my dad and still do plenty of drinking of craft beers without the big trip.

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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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Four disc golf goals for ’13

As I approach two years of playing this lovely sport we call disc golf, I have come to a harsh conclusion — I am just not that good.

steveI miss easy putts. My drives are still all over the place. I have more plastic sitting in a crate in my garage than I do in my actual bag, and instead of my discs bearing the names of their manufacturers, they might as well be covered with expletives, because that’s how I refer to them.

In short, I’m kind of a hot mess.

But, the promise of a new year at least gives me a little hope that 2013 may be the time for improvement. I have to hold myself to some kind of standard if I actually want to get better, though, so I am setting some goals for myself for the coming year.

Why goals, and not resolutions? Well, according to my friend dictionary.com, resolutions have more to do with determination and will than actual results. Goals, on the other hand, have a defined aim, and that is where I am going with these. Concrete improvement that I can (kind of) measure.

Plus, everyone makes resolutions. See all those people at your local gym? They won’t be there in a couple weeks. Sign up for a marathon and set a goal of finishing it, though, and you’re doing it. It’s about commitment.

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Oh, brothers: MVP Disc Sports turns from hobby to profession

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

The story is the same for every disc golf manufacturer.

Follow along with me if you’ve heard this one before: Two teenagers find disc golf and fall in love with the sport. At the same time, the young men spend their summers working for their father, who just so happens to own a plastic injection molding company.

One day, the teens approach their dad with the idea of making a golf disc and, thinking it will be a good learning experience, he gives them the green light. The disc catches on and soon, a company is born.

Wait, that’s not how every disc golf brand is created? Well, chalk up another point in the “unique” column for MVP Disc Sports.

Now 21 and 23 years old, respectively, brothers Brad and Chad Richardson have used a grassroots following to build MVP into a competitive company that continues to strengthen its position in the market via a new spin on disc technology.

And it all started, oddly enough, with a car door handle.

‘A Good Lesson’

Maple Valley Plastics, owned by Don Richardson, has been in business since 1967. In addition to making a variety of products for government contracts and toy companies, the primary focus of the business is the automotive industry. After seeing an interior door handle that was made of a stiff core material and covered with a rubber-like material for a soft feel, Chad was inspired to apply the design to a golf disc.

“This led to the idea of a softer material on the outside of the disc for chain-grabbing properties in a putter,” Brad said. “But rather quickly it evolved into the discovery of using a dense, rubber-like material for an enhanced gyroscopic property of a disc.”

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Attending a pro clinic is a lot to digest, but still useful

Dave Feldberg demonstrates correct form for throwing a hyzer by reaching away from his body. (photo by Courtney McSherry)

When describing my skill level to fellow disc golfers, I often refer to myself as a “recreational enthusiast.” I love the game, and play as often as I can, but I am still not a great player.

Naturally, then, I am always looking for ways to strengthen my game. Whether it is some way to add more distance to my drives, or a putting routine to improve my accuracy, I will take any pointers I can get. Sometimes this helps, and other times it leads me to change what I am comfortable with, which yields inconsistency.

So when I heard that my local pro shop, Kinetic Disc Golf, was bringing an instructional clinic to Kit Carson Park in Escondido, Calif., featuring top players Dave Feldberg, Nikko Locastro, and Philo Brathwaite, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. It isn’t every day that three 1000-rated players roll through town, so I figured I should take advantage.

The end result?

A brain left drowning in new ideas and techniques, simply trying to wade through all of the knowledge and seize on what would help me the most.

Upon arriving at the clinic, I took stock of some of the fellow attendees and was pleased at the cross-section I observed — seasoned players with every disc known to man in their bags, all the way down to a new player with six months of experience who brought along his nine-year-old son. (Reports that said nine-year-old has a better forehand drive than me may or may not be true.)

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Noodle-Armed Review: Innova Starlite Roadrunner

(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.)

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Arguably one of the most successful disc golf ventures of the last year is Innova’s Blizzard Champion plastic, in which air is injected into discs during the molding process to make them lighter. Used to bring down the weights of warp speed drivers like the Boss and Katana —  as well as a host of others — it was only a matter of time before Innova extended the Blizzard trend to Star, their top-of-the-line, opaque plastic.

But when Innova announced that its first foray into this field would be used on the Starlite Roadrunner, I was counted as one of the skeptics.

Already a massively understable disc, the Roadrunner is one of my favorites. You can go full bore on it for easy distance and big turnovers, or use it for precise hyzer-flip flights through wooded courses. It is a pretty underrated disc, in my opinion.

However, given its penchant to be a bit flippy in regular weights, the thought of it moving down into 140-gram territory seemed unnecessary. Innova’s previous lightweight discs were all in the stable-to-overstable category, and making them weigh less served to lower the cruising speed they needed to reach their optimal flight. But since the Roadrunner already did not require much power to fly correctly, making it in this new Starlite plastic seemed like a runaway train to roller city.

But when I went out to play with some friends one day, another guy had picked one up and let me give it a toss.

I immediately went from a skeptic to a devout convert.

The ease with which the disc flew, and the lack of effort needed to make it do so, was quite enticing. As a result, I picked up a couple of my own to see if they could make the bag and help me reach that ever-elusive noodle-arm barrier — a 300-foot drive.

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DGCR 102: Social networking, searching, and the site’s greatest hits

This is the second of a two-part series about DGCourseReview.com. The first part ran last Friday.

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Relative to other sports, disc golf is still in its infancy. It does not have a long history, nor does it boast a mainstream following. For every person who plays the sport, there are likely five more who have never heard of it.

For players who become quickly addicted to the game, then, there is a void. While they would like to spend all day and night talking about all things disc-related, there are likely few other friends or family members who have any shared interest.

It is this lack of local conversation that leads many players to the discussion forums at DGCourseReview.com (DGCR). With nearly 35,000 registered users, they are bound to find someone with whom they can click.

The New Social Network

Site founder Tim Gostovic has created multiple forums for discussion within DGCR. A byproduct of his efforts, though, has been multiple strong relationships founded and maintained through the site.

“DGCR has built a lot of friendships and there are member meets happening all over the country,” Gostovic said. “It’s really great to see the photos of people that might not have otherwise gotten together hanging out and enjoying the sport. I actually regularly play disc golf with a friend I met through the site.”

Jerry Honis (in blue) teaches kids about disc golf as a favor to fellow DGCR member William Safford (photo courtesy William Safford)

Members can unite by posting threads in the site’s dedicated DGCR Meets subforum, or through simply finding someone in their neck of the woods and sending them a private message.

Ryan Glasshagel of New Glarus, Wisconsin, has taken the latter approach and played with about ten fellow DGCR members.

“I consider DGCR my Facebook,” Glasshagel said. “I spend more time on there than any other site on the Internet. I have met some great people on the site that I would consider friends.”

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