The coolest disc golf event…

I recently visited the good folks at Gateway Disc Sports up in St. Louis to obtain discs for

This is the crew!

This is the crew for the 2014 Harrison Road Red Tee Challenge!!!

the 2014 summer Nights Glow Series. While in their shop we started talking about disc golf for kids and long story short, I left with a ton of sweet lightweight plastic. On 28 June 2014 we put on our first Young Men’s Red Tee Invitational. The kids were jazzed! Dads and Moms were not allowed to throw but allowed to caddy for the 18 holes.

The kids were surprised at the distances they were throwing their

The Gateway Magic putters were the bomb!

The Gateway Magic putters were the bomb!

drivers – it is amazing what appropriate weight discs can mean to a thrower. They were all using Gateway magic putters and the gallery was enjoying their excellent results.

I did not have a kid in this tournament, but I knew all the kids in the event through the Martin DIsc Golf Club. The invitational format was chosen to allow us to limit variability in our first foray into

Even though the competition was fierce, the competitors all got along and the parents backed off and let them get along!

Even though the competition was fierce, the competitors all got along and the parents backed off and let them get along!

children’s disc golf. After the event, I can’t think of a thing I would change – everything went super smooth.

We will put on a bigger event next year. Our keys to success were:1) at least one adult on course with each child to help find discs, carry water, etc,. 2) one round of 18 holes (MAX) – it is better to have the kids wanting more instead of burnt out, 3) keep score and track winners but put the $$’s into player packs, 4) keep it positive and fun!

Yet another awesome drive is ripped down the fairway!

Yet another awesome drive is ripped down the fairway!

Our success was confirmed when one of our golfers got home and told his Mom: “I just played the best round of disc golf in my life! It wasn’t my best score,  but it was the most fun!”

A glow disc review

2014-06-12 05.51.26As many of you are aware, I play a lot of disc golf in the dark. There are many reasons for this, but ultimately it is just a bunch of fun. The main tools for playing disc golf on the night shift are: UV flashlight and glow discs. Not all glow discs are created equal, I know this because I own several.

WHO MAKES THE BEST GLOW DISCS??

I do not even bother to take the Discraft glow discs from my daytime bag – the discs are not up to the task of night time play. Innova makes a ton of glow plastic, it is good enough to throw at night, but it is not excellent. The Innova DX plastic is better than the champion glow I have seen, but my champion glow plastic does see use at night.

For me the standard has been Lightning golf discs glow plastic. Recently a friend introduced me to Gateway superglow plastic and it is impressive. So I did the science thing: I put a Gateway Warlock and a Lightning #3 Hookshot into the bathtub charged them equally with a 9 LED UV flashlight and shut the bathroom door – who would glow the longest? At two hours the Lightning disc was at a feeble glow and the Gateway disc was glowing strong. At five hours the Gateway disc was still glowing while the lightning disc was done. Even though the Gateway disc had the longest glow, the Lightning disc was brighter and charged faster. Ultimately, this experiment means nothing because each run of glow plastic is different in: feel, firmness, glow, etc, AND last time I checked (and I check often), I play very little disc golf in the bathroom!

The best glow disc will depend on where and when you throw. I have played nighttime rounds in the Las Vegas area where there was so much light pollution that you could follow brightly colored non-glow discs at 1 am. I have also played on courses where it is so dark that any charged glow disc can be found easily. In between these extremes is where the glow performance becomes an issue. While the Gateway discs glow longer, I think in real world situations glowing longer than an hour is not helpful. I should have found my disc by then. That said nobody uses a UV reactive foil for stamping discs, but it would make searching for discs much easier. As would top and bottom stamping discs with a UV reactive foil – so regardless of disc orientation it would light up when I hit it with my UV flashlight. Another important issue is disc feel, both Lightning and Gateway discs feel grippy which is important when you are playing on a cold, frosty night (or even 60 degrees and dew). The discs also need a certain amount of durability – you may hit a tree in the dark.

The best glow disc isn’t made yet, but I can strongly recommend Lightning and Gateway glow plastic. I also strongly recommend you go throw some tonight.

The Vibram Birdie Bash – Harrison Road Edition

The Harrison Road Vibram Birdie Bash was a big success! We had a big time and made a little money for the club. As the Tournament Director, I had fun – this in spite of the heavy mantle of responsibility I carried. The reasons I had fun was: 1) everyone had a “what can I do to help attitude?”, 2) I played rounds with fun people, and 3) I was throwing discs.

The Vibram Birdie Bash crew, 1 March 2014, Harrison Road DGC, Martin, TN.

The Vibram Birdie Bash crew, 1 March 2014, Harrison Road DGC, Martin, TN.

After swearing an oath of allegiance to Vibram discs, we began to play. Players chose two Vibram discs ( a putter and something else) and these were the only discs we were to throw in the tournament. I had never thrown anything but Vibram putters before, so I was surprised how much I liked my Vibram Trak (fairway driver). I found the Trak to be very easy to control, felt good in hand, and threw farther than I anticipated. My putter choice was a Ridge – which is my normal putter currently. The new Ridge was scared of the chains and hasn’t been taught to enjoy the chains like my old putter, so I had some frustrating moments where I wasted great drives to poor putting – like that has never happened before…

When you look at the group photo you will see that Vibram sent everyone very bright and unique discs. It was pretty funny because they were so bright and unique that they all looked alike – without our names in them I am certain we would not have ended up with the discs we started with.

These are the Champions of the Harrison Road DGC Vibram Birdie Bash.

These are the Champions of the Harrison Road DGC Vibram Birdie Bash.

I think we all won because it was a really fun day of disc golf. Charlie and Colin won the champion’s discs. Colin also won a CTP backpack and the Spirit Award Disc. The Spirit Award celebrates disc culture and everyone exemplified that at our Birdie Bash. Colin was voted this award by an overwhelming majority. A typical example of Colin’s Spirit Award attitude was when he shanked his third drive in a row into the woods off of the #17 tee box, Colin’s response was: “this will be a great opportunity to test my skills”. Colin is a special disc golf player (and person). He is proudest of his Spirit Award disc, and I am really glad that Colin chose to come play in our Birdie Bash.

There are Vibram Birdie Bash events coming up in Milan and at Muse Park in Jackson – perhaps we will see you at one of them?

Prodigy M3 – Disc Review

Evidently, I was a good enough person that some people gave me disc golf related

This is butter.

This is butter.

Christmas gifts. James and Colin (and the rest of the family) got me an incredible disc golf present to be revealed later and also a golf disc – a yellow, 178 gram, 400 series, Prodigy, M3. Because of the color and the way this disc felt in my hand, I promptly named the disc ‘butter’. By the way, the name ‘butter’ is correctly pronounced buddah. When James, Colin, and I went out to play disc golf that afternoon I took my go-to KC roc out of my bag and replaced it with ‘butter’. On hole one of the Lazarre high water course I had to throw ‘butter’ on a long, accurate hyzer line through trees and ‘butter’ parked under the basket. On hole two I had to have ‘butter’ anhyzer into a basket in a situation from which an overthrow is a catastrophic exploration of the Ouachita River – ‘butter’ hit a rock and had a freak bounce backward, but held the line perfectly.

I have now thrown ‘butter’ on 5 different courses and asked it to do everything from driving to putting and anhyzer to hyzer, I have yet to be disappointed. ‘Butter’ is simply an amazing disc. I can’t throw it more than 200′, but (as my friends will tell you) I can’t throw that far with most discs. When ‘butter’ hits trees (user error – not a ‘butter’ problem), it stores much of the energy of impact and springs away from the tree. This means that you do not end up in a cramped throwing position behind a tree, and can mean that ‘butter’ bounced off and simply carried on with the planned route. Even though I have thrown ‘butter’ into trees and rocks, skipped ‘butter’ off of broken glass and asphalt, and even (occasionally) hit chains with ‘butter’, the disc looks like new and simply feels wonderful in hand. I can only imagine the way this disc feels in warmer weather. I never realized how much confidence disc feel can inspire.

I have never had a disc with a name other than the one printed on it. ‘Butter’ got a name right out of the box. I normally don’t think of plastic golf discs as my friends, but I think ‘butter’ and I will be friends for a long time.

Throwing big plastic!

Yesterday (23 November 2013), the Martin Disc Golf Club had its first one disc 2013-11-23 07.55.46-1tournament. The disc chosen for this tournament was the Innova condor. My condor was a 168 gram disc. Just like my vintage, 186 gram, Lightning B-17 this disc was understable at high speeds. The condor is slightly larger than the B-17. The B-17 fits in my disc bag, the condor does not. The B-17 is fun to throw because it is slow and stately in the air. The condor is even slower and has more glide – the condor is simply a cool disc to watch in the air. The tournament was played in winds gusting up to 20 mph and the condors sometimes surprised us with how they reacted to the wind, but they are still fun to watch. The condor does not give me the same distance as my B-17, but it spends more time in the air. The beauty of a big disc floating towards the target is something that really should be experienced by all disc golfers.

Big discs are also easier to find. The flight pattern is less likely to bury itself in leaves and the larger size is simply easier to spot.

The larger size seems to change power transfer during throwing. I feel I am less likely to grip lock a larger disc.

The B-17 has been renamed the #2 roller. The condor also has a strong following as roller disc (bigger wheels = better distance). I do not like to throw rollers, and cannot vouch for this aspect of either disc.

A downside of the larger discs is they are not choice discs for throwing out of tight brush. It also seems that they have problems going into a standard basket because of their size. If part of your disc golf enjoyment comes from simply watching discs fly, add a condor or B-17 to your bag – you won’t regret it!

The quest for distance

We have all seen it, you throw your best drive ever and the guy you are playing with throws 50′ further and when you ask what disc he threw, the response is: “my aviar“. Even though I just had someone out distance me with their putter, I am thinking that maybe if I threw a faster disc I could get more distance. Test throws with a boss have shown me that high speed drivers meat hook into the ground after flying up to 100′ for me – while a fairway driver will give me 200′ pretty consistently.

In my campaign to lower my score, I could practice putting – but that is boring. Eliminating the bad approach shots seems like a good strategy, but it also takes an enormous amount of work. Obviously, the best way to take strokes off my game is to throw more holes-in-one  (eliminating the weak putting and approach aspects of my game) – if I threw 4 or 5 holes-in-one on each round my scores would improve dramatically. Rather than go out to a field and practice my drives, I know that there is that perfect 14 speed driver that can be thrown with awful form and will seek the chains every time.

This is one reason why buying and trading discs is an important activity for all disc golfers.  You could invest months of practice and not become better, but that one special disc could change your life and then you will be throwing with the pros.

Or not.