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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McBeth dominates Vibram Open en route to NT title

By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff

Dominance.

That is the only word to describe the display Paul McBeth put on Sunday en route to winning the Vibram Open at Maple Hill and securing the PDGA National Tour Elite Series Championship.

Paul McBeth clinched the PDGA National Tour title with a 13-stroke victory at the Vibram Open. (photo courtesy PDGA Media)

Heading into the final round of play with a four-shot lead over Will Schusterick, McBeth got hot early and shot a course-record 14-under par 45, good enough for a 1119-rated round. The hot round left him with a 33-under 203 for the tournament, earning him the $3,000 purse with a 13-stroke victory.

Schusterick earned $2,400 and a second-place finish with his 20-under par 216, while Cale Leiviska and Cam Colglazier tied for third and $1,875 with 19-under 217s. Paul Ulibarri’s 15-under 221 was good for fifth place and $1,500.

The win marked the sixth major tournament championship in 2013 for McBeth, who recently won his second straight world championship.

Once he got locked in on Sunday, McBeth said it was only a matter of how far under par he would finish.

“I think once I was up nine, I knew I pretty much won the tournament,” he said. “I think I was at like 10-under with six holes to play, and I just looked over to someone I was following and I said, ‘Well, I guess it’s just time to see how low I can go.’”

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Vibram Open to settle National Tour races

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

Updated 4:36 p.m. EST

One final showdown will settle the PDGA’s National Tour this weekend at Maple Hill in Leicester, Mass.

The Vibram Open, the closing tournament of the National Tour Elite Series, will be where points-leader Paul McBeth looks to hold off Ricky Wysocki. The tournament runs Thursday through Sunday.

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Tee times start at 7:45 a.m. local time Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Players begin playing at 8 a.m. on the final day.

The Vibram will also pay out more than $50,000 in prize money. The men will split $45,000, with the winner earning $3,000. Second place is $2,400 and third place gets $2,000. The women, with a field of 15, will split $7,000. The winner earns $1,500, second is $1,200 and third will get $1,000.

That strong payout is something tournament director Steve Dodge said players have come to look forward to each year, and has contributed to the tournament’s growing stature.

“Consistently having a $50,000-plus payout – I think this is our third year that we’ve gone over $50,000 – and setting up everybody for success – here’s exactly what our payout is, here’s exactly how everything’s going to work, and having that all laid out well in advance – gives the touring players and all the locals something significant that they know is going to happen,” Dodge said.

“It’s like Christmas,” he continued. “It’s a given. You know it’s happening, you know it’s going to be really fun, and you want to be there.”

Plus, the tournament is competitive, as the women and men have tight races for the NT series championship on the line.

On the men’s side, four players are within 24 points of the lead. But, the reality is unless something drastic happens with McBeth and Wysocki, one of them will be claiming the men’s tour title Sunday in Leicester.

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Product Review: Vibram FiveFingers

By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff

Depending on when, where, and what type of courses you play, finding the right footwear for disc golf can make or break your round.

Sure, if you play in a manicured park setting that boasts raked concrete tee pads, you can probably get away with wearing those clunky old skate shoes collecting dust in your closet. But if you play on any sort of uneven terrain, or tee off from rubber mats, gravel pits, or – gasp! – dirt, you’re going to need some heavy tread to keep you on your feet.

product_reviewBut, with many of the shoes with this level of grip being accompanied by some serious heft, it can be difficult to find something that will fit the needs of your game without weighing you down.

Enter Vibram FiveFingers.

With a combination of a mesh upper, durable tread, and impressive flexibility, I dare say the FiveFingers make the ideal disc golf shoe.

That is, if you are willing to open your mind.

You see, these shoes are less like shoes and more like gloves for your feet. They look a little odd and definitely feel strange at first. But, like Garth from “Wayne’s World” liked to say, “After a while, they become a part of you.”

Vibram, a long-time purveyor of footwear who a few years back hopped into the disc golf manufacturing game, was kind enough to provide Rattling Chains with a pair of TrekSport FiveFingers back in December. After wearing them for a few months, they continue to hold up tremendously in most conditions and, most importantly, have grown increasingly comfortable with each use.

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The winner of the Lace is…

Last week, we ran our review of Vibram’s newest disc, the Lace.

The disc is the first long-distance driver released by the company.

And the winner of this disc is…?

In conjunction with the review, we also were giving away the disc used by P.J. Harmer — a 173 gram beauty.

Between the comments on the website and the re-tweets, we received more than 50 entries for this disc. That’s awesome, especially knowing somebody is going to be lucky enough to own this disc!

There were some great comments about Vibram and its line of discs on the original post, so I’d encourage you to go back and check out those. If you haven’t already, go check out our unbiased review. We give a different look than most reviews, offering an objective look from the eyes of two players of vastly different levels.

Anyway, enough of the blabbing.

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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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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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The Vibram Open should be packed full of excitement

Nate Doss takes a plunge into the pond after winning the Vibram Open last year. Will Doss repeat or will someone else claim victory this year?

By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff

This year’s Vibram Open is shaping up to be one to remember.

And for the first time, the pros and ams are each getting in on the action.

The Vibram is the final stop on the PDGA National Tour Elite Series. This year, the event expands to four days for the pros, running from Thursday to Sunday.

On top of that, the Vibram has added an amateur tournament, which will be held at other area courses with the final being shifted to Maple Hill to play the vaunted gold tees.

Some of the other major new items for this year’s Vibram include:

  • The men’s professional open field is smaller, but has a larger payout. A cap of 144 players has been set (it used to be 160), and the cut will remain at 72. The payout has gone from $41,000 to $45,000.
  • The women’s payout this year has also gone up — from $8,300 to $10,000. The Vibram also allowed any and all women to compete with the cut line being 15.
  • The Vibram has also gone from three to four rounds.

The pro tournament will run from Thursday through Sunday at Maple Hill in Leicester, Mass.

One of the most scenic courses on the tour, the championship gold tees challenge the best in the world with tricky woods shots, long drives and creative water holes.

As the crowning — and final stop — on the PDGA Tour, more than just a victory will be on the line as the tour champion will be crowned at this event as well.

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Disc golf news and notes: June 12

It’s been a bit since we did a news and notes post, and there’s been many things happening.

First, some quick news from Vibram. The company recently announced that the Obex mid-range disc will be released June 28 at Pinnacle retailers and July 26 at all retailers.

The Obex is the over-stable compliment to the Ibex, Vibram’s stable mid-range. RattlingChains.com recently did a review on the Obex.

Vibram also announced that June 16 is the deadline for those who cashed in the 2011 Vibram Open to register by. The Vibram Open is the final stop for the PDGA National Tour. The event is Aug. 16-19 at Maple Hill course in Leicester, Mass.

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The Kansas City Wide Open was held June 1-3 and was the third stop on the six-event National Tour.

Dave Feldberg shot a 45-under 266 to earn the $2,000 paycheck and the tournament title. It’s the first NT event this year not won by Paul McBeth, who tied Jeremy Koling for fifth with a 29-under 254.

Will Schusterick placed second with a 42-under 269.

On the women’s side, Val Jenkins won her second NT event of the year by shooting a 4-over-par 315 to beat out Paige Pierce by five strokes.

Through three events, McBeth leads the men’s standings with 283.5 points. Schusterick is in second with 281, followed by Feldberg 264). Nate Doss (254) and Steve Rico (232.5) fill out the top five.

In the women’s race, Jenkins is on top with 293 points, followed by Catrina Allen with 279. Liz Lopez is in third with 261. Pierce (186) and Sarah Hokom (185) round out the top five.

Coming up: The next National Tour event is this weekend, June 15-17, at the Beaver State Fling in Estacada, Oregon.

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