Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vibram's Trak a true breakthrough disc

I’ve tested all of the Vibram discs by now, and reviewed most of them here. All the reviews have until now have had a common theme: The main thing that makes them different from all other discs on the market (the grip and durability of rubber) has definite value, and it earns them consideration for a spot in your bag based on that alone. Each of the discs has been worthwhile in it’s own right, and performed as advertised.

Vibram started with lid-like putters that seem most suitable for driving, but worked well for putting due mainly to the grippy-ness of the rubber compound from which all their discs are made. Their first driver – the Ascent – is reliably overstable for me, but once again valued mostly for the way it comes to rest more abruptly on contact with the ground as opposed to other drivers that tend to skip. Again, the rubber is THE main reason I liked those discs. Otherwise, I’m one of those veteran disc golfers who has dozens (and more dozens) of discs and buys them much less often now because what I have works fine for me.

Then I tested the Trak.

This stable driver seems to do something for me no disc has ever done- something that as a lefthanded player is particularly valuable: It holds a gradual turnover line for a very long time. I’ll try to explain it with as much detail as possible, because I believe it is very significant, even ground-breaking. Click here to read the rest of this post at the new home of this blog, And please bookmark it for future reference.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Be A Sponge, Part 2

NOTE: As a reminder, this blog has migrated to the main site for School of Disc Golf. Please bookmark the new site today!

Be A Sponge, Part 2: Pay Attention to Detail

DaLearning Curve, the School of Disc Golf’s instructional blog, has coined and often comes back to several themes. ‘Disc Golf in a Vaccuum’, for instance. ‘Be a sponge’ is another. This is a return to the ‘sponge’ theme.
The previous post under this heading (‘Want to Play Better: Be a Sponge‘) didn’t focus on the absorbent characteristics of a sponge, but rather the practice of ‘wringing out’ every bit of talent and knowledge one already possesses to maximize performance. In a nutshell, everyone will make errors in execution at one time or another, and that is unavoidable. It happens less to better, more consistent players, but it happens. However, mental errors are much more systemic and easier to avoid or even practically eliminate with the proper mindset. It’s worth the read if you haven’t seen it yet.
This post, however, goes back to the absorbent nature of the sponge, with three specific suggestions on how to soak up new information that can help you improve.
  1. Observe and learn from players that are much better than you
  2. Observe your own game from a detached, analytical viewpoint
  3. Listen to your body
Click here to read the rest of this post and learn more above the three points listed above.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vibram’s first mid-range disc fills a niche in my bag

Well, I spoke too soon. Domain forwarding issues have forced me to post dual entries here and on my new Wordpress site for now.

It’s kinda pointless to review a disc and discuss flight characteristics without some form of context in terms of the person throwing the disc. Describing a disc by comparing it to other discs (“it’s like a Roc on steroids!”) is, for the same reason, of limited usefulness. Disc golfers vary greatly not only by armspeed but also in a number of other ways, like preference for hyzer/anhyzer/S-turn flight and general skill level and experience. So it should make sense that a disc that flies naturally straight according to one person’s perception won’t result in the same experience for someone else.
With that being established, in reviewing Vibram’s first mid-range disc, the Ibex, I’ll share some characteristics of my own disc golf game to provide some of that context. Hopefully it’ll give you a better idea of how you might be able to use the Ibex and other discs I review in your game. Here’s my disc golfer profile, in a nutshell:
  • more than 20 years playing disc golf with a top rating of 999, and still constantly seeking ways to get better
  • successful competitive player due to a well-rounded game rather than a big arm
  • slower arm speed due a rotator cuff injury, maxing out at maybe 380 feet with accuracy
  • play primarily in Santa Cruz county, where most fairways and greens are fast and/or sloped
The Ibex that Vibram sent me to test is in their regular (as opposed to soft or hard) X-Link rubber compound. I find that some of the appeal that the Ibex has for my game is directly related to slogans Vibram touts about their entire line. To quote the top of every page on their website: “Exceptional Durability, Unequaled Grip, Consistent Performance”. After throwing the Ibex for a few weeks now (plus having tested other Vibram models for a much longer period of time), I can attest to the veracity of all three claims. And it is these characteristics that have me giving the Ibex and other Vibram discs a long tryout for a spot in my bag.
Most of my non-putter discs have for years been made of various types of high-tech plastic, like ESP, Star or Champion. Playing on the fast terrain of DeLaveaga and surrounding courses for years, I’ve become accustomed to taking the skip into consideration when planning and executing shots. But Vibram discs provide a great alternative to that strategy, when needed, with their tacky rubber surface. Whether the Ibex lands at a steep angle or perfectly flat, it usually ends up pretty close to where it first touches down. With a weeny arm now, sometimes I need that skip to reach the green, and in those cases I won’t throw a rubber disc. But it’s all about having the right disc for each shot, and now I’ve got discs that don’t skip when I don’t want ‘em to.
Another benefit directly related to the rubber compound that makes Vibram unique is the fact that the grip expands shot-making possibilities. Case in point: sometimes I am faced with one of those ‘tweener’ shots where the distance and lie seems too long for a putter, and too short for a full, smooth mid-range disc. I’m finding that throwing the Ibex with a fan grip works great in these situations, providing the same accuracy-centric control I would get from one of my putters, but with the added distance I need. In the past I had to throw a putter harder than I’d want to, risking the loss of some aim, or another midrange with a fan grip on the comparatively slick ‘high tech’ plastic, which didn’t inspire confidence.
In my case, the other mid-range discs in my bag are only moderately stable. If I put an anhyszer angle with some height on a throw with my Champion Cobra, for instance, it’ll hold that angle for a long time. If I throw it hard and flat and low, there is a good chance it’ll turn over and hit the ground too soon. With the Ibex I now have a disc that I can throw flat and expect to hyzer fairly quickly, yet it won’t skip like a flat stone on a quiet creek when it hits the hard dirt of DeLa. Once again, that’s valuable because it fills a void in my bag.
To sum it up, the Ibex is worth a look because as a mid-range disc its inherent qualities as a rubber disc fit perfectly with the way a mid-range disc is intended to be used. It flies further that a putter, yet offers more control and predictability than a driver (and most other mid-range discs). Add to that the fact that the rubber texture also greatly improves grip and helps it stop on a dime, and you’ve got one heck of a mid-range disc.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New blogging location

Beginning today, DeLaBlahg will be blogging at Please begin following us there. Same disc golf-related subject matter, just a different URL. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some disc golf tips have nothing to do with playing better

After a couple decades playing disc golf, DeLaBlagh has confirmed a few basic tenets related to the duller - as opposed to the finer - points of the game. These observations have nothing to do with playing the game, or at least not directly. But they can make your overall experience more enjoyable.

Minimizing lost discs
  • The golf disc industry thrives on the fact that people seem to really care about what color disc they throw, or what is stamped on the discs they throw. Players seem to really like multi-colored or tie-die discs in particular, and those discs tend to cost the most, too. But they are among the likeliest to be lost, because the variegated patterns are the hardest to spot when obscured in bushes and groundcover- even if the colors in the disc are bright. It's a cruel fact that the discs with the appearance you find most attractive are often the easiest to lose.
  • Seemingly much more obvious is the fact that black discs and dark green discs tend to get lost more often as well. Seems like a no-brainer, but people still buy them, and manufacturers are happy to supply them. We're not saying there's a conspiracy here, just good 'ol capitalism. And don't think it's OK because the discs you have that are black or green are putters. Those can get lost too, especially when it's getting dark out.
  • Bottom line: if your goal is to lose as few discs as possible, throw solid, bright colors, and put your name and some type of contact info on them in large, bold print. If your main objective is to hold onto those discs you come to know well and trust, appearance shouldn't be part of the equation.
Rashes, Bites and Burns
We're based in Santa Cruz, and used to view our year-round disc golf outings as a chance to work on our tans. But the flip side to our temperate weather are the nasty perils of poison oak and wasps that build nests in the ground, practically invisible until it's too late. We've long since given up wearing shorts on the courses around here. We usually wear long, thin nylon 'shell' pants that provide protection against the evil that lurks just off the fairways while adding little or no discomfort on hot days. Full shoes are a no-brainer.

Although we don't really get excited about courses in grassy parks with no hazards to worry about, it's nice to be able to dress lightly when playing disc golf once in awhile. But in all other cases, why risk it? A personal best round is quickly ruined when the indiscriminate nature of, uh, nature strikes. Remember the Father on Caddyshack?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pro Worlds recap- NorCal shines

Haven't had the energy yet since the last day of the event to look at all the numbers, but one stat jumps off the page. Of the eight people crowned World Champion of disc golf on Saturday, 6 come from and live in Northern California. Only two of them call any of the Worlds courses home (Nate Doss and Jon Baldwin, DeLaveaga), and Nate is on tour and away from DeLa most of the season. And he doesn't play much in the off-season. It wasn't a Santa Cruz thing so much as a NorCal thing.

My conclusion here is twofold, and both are points I've made in this space before.
  1. Northern California has more concentrated disc golf talent than anywhere else in the world, and it's not very close.
  2. The courses in NorCal present challenges most disc golfers - even most top pros - just don't see very often.
I won't spend much time on the superior player angle as I've done that before. Suffice it to say that in addition to dominating the winner's podium, the two other players that provided the biggest threat to Doss are from NorCal as well: Derek Billings, who led for the first two days and shot a -18 in the opening round, and Josh Anthon, the greatest player to not yet win a major.

As far as the courses go, it seems that most top players are conditioned by typical disc golf courses to play ultra-aggressive golf. Rarely do they get themselves into trouble that results in more than one bogey stroke at other courses. Bad drives usually result in settling for par rather than deciding how to minimize the damage. Not so at most NorCal courses, nearly all of which combine sloping, rugged terrain, dense foliage and challenging layouts.

To those tempted to say that the NorCal players had an advantage from being familiar with the courses, my response is qualified agreement. NorCal players are privileged to learn playing a form of the game much closer to traditional golf than what most others experience. Game management is of the utmost importance, and it is this trait more than any other that made the difference at the 2011 Pro Worlds.

The 27-hole round is also something that requires adjustment, and perhaps those that have played tournament rounds at DeLaveaga were better-prepared in that way as well. If your mind is conditioned to maintain focus for 18 holes, and then you have to another 1.5 hours . . . . that's when mistakes and errors of judgement happen.

I know somewhere, someone who knows Tom Schot and his PT Barnam ways well believes Tom just pulled off the Hustle of his great career. But those that know Tom really well know that's silly. He doesn't care who wins so long as the world hears about it and it advances the sport.