As mentioned previously, I like to throw at night – a lot! Luckily the City of Martin doesn’t mind having people use the Harrison Road Disc Golf Course at night. It never hurts to communicate: the City knows we are out there, had a winter glow league, and disc golf is played regularly at night. (Side note: when playing out of town on College campus disc golf courses it is ALWAYS a good idea to check in with campus security BEFORE embarking on your nocturnal disc golf outing.) Toward making glow disc golf even bigger, I am putting on a glow tournament series on behalf of the Martin Disc Golf Club. The better way of saying it is I take on all the risk, the club gets the profit.
I believe that the Tournament Director plays a big role in making a tournament fun, so it is awesome mantle of responsibility. That said I plan on having fun with the events…
As 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.
During the big November 2013 road trip, I played quite a few rounds at night. Night rounds on unfamiliar courses and in towns I do not know can be an exhilarating experience. I have yet to have a problem, but I still keep my eyes open – I do not want to spend a night in jail (or worse). I wanted to play the Deer Run Park Disc Golf Course in Sidney, NE. As I drove through a really nice neighborhood on my way to the park, I thought this course might not welcome strangers to come in the dead of night and throw plastic. I parked my car a clandestine distance from the park and stealthily crept through the trees to the park to try to figure out how the course was laid out – no one could see me and only the UV light and glow discs would give away my presence.
And then I saw the light(s)!
The baskets and tee pads had solar-battery powered lights installed on them! Sidney, Nebraska had laid out the welcome mat for me and the entire cohort of “disc golfers of the night”! I stood up a little straighter and thoroughly enjoyed a night-time round of disc golf in Sidney, Nebraska, a town that has embraced those of us who prefer to throw glow discs.
The starting up of the Martin Disc Golf Club’s first glow league is causing great excitement throughout the world: jihadists in Syria are putting their weapons down and looking for their UV lights, Angela Merckel is practicing her putting, and Miley Cyrus is packing that glow champion valkyrie she got from her last tournament in her golf bag. As such I thought I might provide a list of ‘must haves’ that may make your glow disc golf experience better.
- Darkness – I simply cannot overstate the importance of this for glow golf. The darker the better. Simply blindfolding yourself will not provide ample darkness. A dark, quiet, moonless night is the first ingredient in a magical round of disc golf.
- Safety – I thought about ‘safety first’, but hopefully at number 2 you all get the idea: it is paramount to survive each and every round of disc golf you play. Save the stupid off balance shots from precarious perches for the daytime. Take a meter from your lie for safety, heck – take two ‘safety meters’! Bring safety glasses, without them you WILL get poked in the eye at some point. It is about fun – and getting hurt is not fun.
- Glow or light up discs – these are just so much easier to find in the dark. Please don’t throw your Niels Bohr autographed MVP Ion into the night – we are there to play, not look for discs…
- LED UV flashlight – if you are throwing glow plastic, you will find the performance of these lights are superior to normal flashlights for charging up your glow discs.
- A normal flashlight – carrying a normal flashlight (mine is an LED headlamp) allows you to have full light when you need it. I also use mine for lighting up the basket when it is time to begin the short game. You just turn on your light and set it on top of the chain holders aimed at the ground – viola! – full light for the basket and your night vision remains intact.
- A good attitude – you will throw a really bad shot (or 20!). If you want to play your best game ever, wait until daytime. Remember, while it can be magical to play at night, a general rule is the best type of day to play disc golf isn’t a night. If you are going to be pissy about playing poorly, i will suggest that you play during the day (and by yourself).
- Grippy shoes – nighttime disc golfers do not take a big run up into their shots. Usually you will not light up your lie with a flashlight because you will want to preserve your night vision (and the night vision of others in your party). So between the unknown nature of the area around your lie and the fresh night dew – it is a good idea to have footwear that enhances your ability to stay upright.
- Appropriate clothing – wear clothes you will be comfortable and warm in. Dress in layers so you can adjust to changes in temperature.
- Uniquely marked discs – many of us are throwing Lightning glow plastic and many discs will look similar. Mark your discs so that we can tell them apart.
- The correct form – at night you may find you benefit from more finesse and less power in your game. This will be due to lack of a run up, darkness, cold hands, wet discs, etc.
- Streamlined golf kit – the more crap you bring out onto the disc golf course, the more likely you are to put something down and then not be able to find it in the dark. If it is really valuable to you, leave it at home or in your car. I typically bring 4 discs out to play glow golf (2 fairway drivers, an approach disc, and a putter) – I find it difficult to chose a certain disc from out a bag filled with glow discs (they all look alike).
I hope this ‘Top Ten’ list helps you to have fun – see you on Thursday, 7 November, 2013 @ 6:00 pm @ Harrison Road!