Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The DD Women's Series - Part 2: What Competing Is Like For Natalie

We’re particularly excited about this DD Women’s Series, as we have had the chance to chat with European team member Natalie Hollokӧi. In Part 1 of this four-part series, we learned a bit about her disc golfing background and once again saw how interconnected Ultimate and disc golf are throughout the world.

Natalie’s success has come as a result of hard work and dedication in a disc golf scene that’s completely different from the one we’re most familiar with. In today’s DD Women’s Series entry, let’s explore the European disc golf scene and what it’s like for a female pro player.

Different Divisions

Experienced disc golfers won’t be surprised by this information, but those new to the scene might be shocked to learn that competitive divisions in Europe are quite different. While we make every effort to learn each division and keep up every time the PDGA makes a change, players across the pond have made things much easier.

While this isn’t a hard and fast rule for every event out there, most European tournaments feature simply professional and amateur divisions for both men and women. Forget about FA2, MP40, and the like - it’s kept as straightforward as can be.

Not only are players less confused by this standard, but it also fits in nicely with the way tournament rounds are played. Natalie explains: “When I started to play, what [I noticed that’s] different compared to the US is the first round is always random. You are playing mixed, at least one woman, one master, etc on each card. The second round is by score, again mixed. The third round is by score and category. They still do this in Switzerland.” Utilizing this process allows players of all skill levels to get to know one another and tends to create more camaraderie on the course.

How’s The Competition?

The US always boasts a push for women to join the PDGA and we even hold women’s only events in an effort to have more ladies involved in the sport. In Europe, it can be a bit of a different story, however. “There’s an outdated viewpoint in Europe - some men don’t really want the women there. But some TD’s really push to have more women, and they do get a lot of support,” Natalie explained.

We know that countries like Finland are simply bursting with disc golf activity, and naturally a lot of newer players there must be women. In Switzerland, Hollokӧi has less competition than she would stateside. “In Switzerland, there are only six professional female disc golfers. Three years ago there were only three of them,” she said. While this might lead some to believe that winning an event is easy, the courses in Europe are no less grueling than what we compete on in the United States.

Learning from Natalie about disc golf in Europe and specifically in Switzerland has been eye-opening and we’re excited to bring you more in this DD Women’s Series. Stay tuned for Part 3 where we learn more about what tour life is like for Natalie.
Monday, March 19, 2018

The Feeling of Progress

Spring is upon us.

As a disc golfer I've espoused the usefulness of year-round training for as long as I can remember. It doesn't always resonate with people from my region. We grow up hearing the anecdotes about kids in the south and west who could play baseball all year, and the advantages they have as a result (it was a part of the children's books I read, as a Matt Christopher nut). We hit high school and we watch those around us who compete throughout the off season make real progress, drilling techniques until they're flawless. But in disc golf: the value of working through the winter on your game isn't always taken seriously.

And one can see why. Putting in the garage isn't as nice as putting on the lawn. Putting in the snow feels terrible with your drive foot sliding; your plant foot shifting; your hand intermittently smeared with near freezing water as you pick up discs. When the snow has melted: the mud where you've been planting is like an oil slick. Even without these complications I've written over 3500 words on tiresome routine and regimented work in the past six months alone, including what to do when it inevitably becomes so tiresome.

Who wants to do that?
Spring is upon us.

There's this feeling you get when it gets warm. A feeling that rises inside of you when the opportunity to throw every day in mild temperatures, with lower winds, off of consistently dry teepads emerges. It's that feeling you get when you head out of town for your first big event of the year, heading south, leaving the chill and precipitation behind. You get it the moment you step out of your car after six or eight plus hours driving, into temperatures that make it feel like you've emerged into a different world. It rises and rises to a climax the moment you're warmed up enough to really take that first big huck. The moment your disc flies 75 feet further than it did in September.

There's this feeling you get when it gets warm. A feeling that rises inside of you when the opportunity to throw every day in mild temperatures, with lower winds, on clean and neat greens emerges. It's that feeling you get when you're out in your yard, the snow melted and the dirt dry. You get it as your putt comes together consistently in ways you don't remember feeling a week before, the distractions of the conditions are gone and you can putt freely for the first time in months. It rises and rises to a climax as you triumphantly push through set after set at rates you couldn't have expected (though you hoped for them) at the start of winter.

There's this feeling you get when it gets warm. A feeling that rises inside of you when the opportunity to throw every day in mild temperatures, with lower winds, against consistently deep fields emerges. It's that feeling you get when you get out of your car for your Friday night league for the first time, and you see a crowd of 30 milling about over 30 minutes before the close of sign ups. You get it the moment you hear the league operator remind you that you're B Pool, you know better. It rises and rises to a climax as you move through your evening dropping bombs, putts, and bomb putts - while the competition shakes off the rust, in an effort to just get back to where they were.

Spring is upon us. And winter really wasn't that long.

Chris Wojciechowski
Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 By The Numbers - Where The Ladies Stand

Anyone who’s even remotely involved in disc golf knows that there are typically far more men involved in the sport than women, and it’s a passion of many to bring more ladies into the game. This can be done through female-only events or by offering enticing course layouts and multiple divisions to play in.

We took a peek at where things stand for the 2018 Glass Blown Open and how these figures compare to female participation in other tournaments over the last year. The results are interesting and point to an exciting pattern of growth, which is in part largely due to the efforts of tournament directors across the nation who aim to make their events appealing to all.

2017 In A Glance

We had some pretty spectacular events take place last year, and female participation was certainly at an impressive level. Take for example the Rocky Mountain Women’s Disc Golf Championships, held in Colorado during July of 2017. Approximately 126 ladies came out for this always anticipated tournament, allowing that many more women in the area to become exposed to the sport.

Last year’s GBO was also a pretty big hit on the female side of registration with 118 women competing across all divisions. Since our event fills up so quickly each year, we’d bet that more women would have attended if we’d had the space. Thankfully, 2018 brought about some changes to make that a reality.

Worlds in 2017 may have been a bit on the smaller side, but when you think about how many women were in the competitive realm even 5 years ago, it certainly shows the strides we’ve made. AM Worlds saw 77 women compete, with 18 at Pro Masters Worlds and 44 at Pro Worlds respectively. Across the board, 139 women performed at the highest level possible across all Worlds events.

How Is 2018 Shaping Up?

Of course it’s too early to say how such events as RMWDGC or Worlds will fare, but if the numbers at GBO are anything to go by, it’s going to be epic. Of the 184 spots available across all divisions at this year’s Glass Blown Open, 175 of them are filled. We’ll be seeing some top names in the Open division with a healthy assortment of competitors across many other areas.

2018 is also host to the much-anticipated Women’s Global Event which takes place every other year. As always, organizers there are looking to not only meet but surpass the previous event’s attendance. The WGE has been quite active on social media and really caters their tournament toward women of all experience and skill levels.

If you’re a gal reading this, what events are you looking forward to this year? Do you feel like you’re seeing an increase in women’s attendance at your local tournaments or weekly events? Let us know in the comments below how you think disc golfers across the country can help to encourage more women to show up at events throughout the season.
Thursday, March 15, 2018

Assessing Our Tees - Does Disc Golf Need A Redesign?

It’s always a hotly debated issue every time it comes up - the quality and construction of tee boxes in disc golf. While many players have specific preferences when it comes to the type of material they like best, what’s often noticed more often is when a tee is difficult to utilize.

Courses around the country vary their design, and while many opt for traditional rectangles, footage from The 2018 Memorial showed round concrete pads for the players to utilize. One couldn’t help but notice time and time again commentary that stated how long certain players’ run-ups were, and it begs the question - should tee boxes be reevaluated?

Going By The Book

If you play ten disc golf courses in your area, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter at least two or three different types of tee boxes. Some aren’t boxes at all, and rather you know where to throw from based on the pit that’s been ground into the dirt. However, before the comments start flying off the rails, it’s important to note what the PDGA deems as acceptable tee box requirements.

You can reference the entire PDGA Course Design Guidelines at your leisure, but here are the important parts to note:

“Hard surface tee pads of textured cement or asphalt are preferred. Preferred size is 5 ft wide
by at least 12 ft long (1.8x3m). Maximum size is 6 ft wide by 18 ft long with the back end flaring out to 10 feet wide.” Later it goes on to state: “If possible, provide adequate level ground for a run-up behind each tee pad, especially on longer holes.”

While materials are always debatable, it’s the length of the pads we’re really focusing on today. Again, we can vividly see in our minds several players who could have used nearly 30 feet or more during The Memorial, especially at Vista del Camino.

What Change Might Look Like

Implementing a new tee box standard would be a costly and lengthy process for the disc golf community, and it’s not the direct answer we’re leaning toward. However, on certain holes where a super long run-up is beneficial, are players at a big disadvantage by having to start on one surface and then transition up and onto a tee pad during their shot?

Rarely do we see a professional touring player struggle with such a task, but we’d be that there’s a fair amount of casual players who have a hard time navigating this aspect of their game. On holes where the ground is sloped off in an unusual way, needing extra space might look like running uphill on dirt and then stepping up to a short concrete pad - trust us, we’ve seen it before and it isn’t pretty.

What do you think of the current state of our tee pads? If the PDGA should revise their standards, particularly by possibly removing the maximum length of a pad, will that affect players in any way? We’d love to know what you think in the comments below!
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Our Disc Golf Adventure To The 2018 Memorial

Now that disc golf season is in full swing, it’s time to put some miles on our new RV! We wanted a big crew to head out to Arizona in support of all of the DD team players in attendance, so Bobby, Jeremy, Robert, Eric, and Denise all packed up into our new toy and hit the road.

This short video not only chronicles how much fun we all have together, but it gives viewers a glimpse into what tour life is really like. Even when you have a nice ride to travel around in, it can still be grueling. Notice that despite having beds to sleep in, none of us look all that rested during our 3:30 am gas stop.

An RV is a sweet way to go but can be hard to live in for a week straight with a group of people. Renting out a house in Arizona was definitely a smart move, allowing us to take the RV to and from the courses each day.

We’re so glad that we had the chance to head out to The Memorial this year and want to send out a big congratulations to all of the DD team members who competed in this must-play event. Check out our full disc golf adventure video here to see what life on the road is all about!
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The DD Women's Series - Part 1: Getting To Know Natalie Hollokӧi

There are many things about Europe that make it quite different than the United States, and when it comes to disc golf, female players certainly experience their game in a unique way. A member of the Dynamic Discs team for 3 years and counting, we chatted with Natalie Hollokӧi to get to know more about her and learn all about European disc golf. In Part 1 of this series, we explored Natalie’s background with disc sports and got clued into a few highlights of her career.

A Star From The Start

Natalie began playing Frisbee back in the 1980’s, and in her home country of Switzerland enjoyed just about every game you can play with a plastic disc. She naturally gravitated toward disc golf and Ultimate specifically, and at the age of 9 really started to improve upon her skills. She notes that her background with discs in general really helped her to understand how to manage specific shots when on the course: “You can really feel the difference in disc golf if [someone has] played Ultimate before or not. The path of the flight is different.”

This ability to finesse a Frisbee is what furthered her interest during her childhood as she preferred Ultimate over disc golf. In her teens, she put down the plastic for a while to focus on her education and employment, yet said that every time she saw a Frisbee she would feel her heart begin to beat faster with excitement.

Entering The Scene

In 2009, Hollokӧi just couldn’t stay away from disc sports any longer but felt she was too old to enjoy Ultimate like she once used to. Deciding to give disc golf a try once again, she set her sights on competing in the 2010 European Championships near Paris. It was a childhood dream of hers yet she found a bit of a setback in her way: invitations were only granted to the event to the current Swiss tour winner or the Swiss champion.

“People said there was no chance but I went for it anyway,” Natalie said, as she recalls deciding to compete in the Swiss Championships only two months before the event. Due to a mixture of nerves and excitement, she found herself in a three-way tie for first place and after a few playoff holes, she secured the win. Hollokӧi made her way to the European Championships and placed 6th, which was the highest female Swiss finish at that time.

Disc Golfing In The USA

As Natalie’s skills grew and she found more confidence in her game, she naturally gravitated toward events in the US. Fondly recalling her first experience at Worlds in 2011, she had told herself: “You are now playing with the big girls, just keep to your game.” Hollokӧi continues to say, “I had the honor to play the first round with Des [Reading]. I was so impressed watching her. I played so well after the first round that I was in 8th place.”

Natalie continues to play numerous events in both the European circuit and the US tour. Her love of disc golf is apparent with each excited laugh and story she shared during our talk. Be sure to check out the upcoming Part 2 in Natalie’s series where we’ll learn more about what the female disc golf scene is like in Europe.

Interview with Team Dynamic Discs player Jared Neal

In this episode of the Disc Golf Answer Man Podcast we interview Team Dynamic Discs player, Jared Neal. Jared lives in Alabama and was just finishing up on his 4th tournament weekend in a row.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Getting Ready For Another Disc Golf Experience!

For the last several years, we've been fortunate enough to host disc golf events in some pretty unusual places. It started with our event at the AT&T Stadium, where attendees got to throw discs on the football field. Later, we transitioned into other arenas like the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, and we knew we had an incredible idea on our hands.

Tennesse also got some love when we visited the Nissan Stadium, and now it's time to get ready for 2018's event at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. A ton of time and energy goes into preparing for these events, and in this video you get a little sneak peek at how Eric McCabe and Doug Bjerkaas determine the event layout.

It's an awe-inducing sight to walk into an empty football stadium, and having the massive amount of real estate to work with makes the job of planning each hole more difficult than you'd think! The Disc Golf Experience at Arrowhead Stadium is scheduled for June 16th, so keep your eyes out for registration information in the next few months.

Have you been to a Disc Golf Experience event before? Let us know what you'd love to see at Arrowhead in the comments below!
Saturday, March 10, 2018

Match Play Fever: Catching

In early January a truly neat idea came across the inboxes of the Dynamic Discs family. Buried in the year end letter put out by Jeremy Rusco was notification of a new amateur prestige event: The United States Amateur Match Play Championship. A format that has emerged multiple times through the years in the form of various state team championship events, the Players Cup, and recently in the Pro Tour Championship. The format catches the eye because of the way it changes the dynamic (no pun intended) for the individual with the occasional single-hole explosion. It opens up the front of the (especially amateur) field to a slightly different group of players.

The details were scarce at the time, but the format intrigued as it always has. In a message a few weeks later Dixon Jowers engaged Team Dynamic Discs members to run a qualifying event, an endeavor that sounded small, fun, and easy.

Fast forward to the end of the month, and information begins to come out. Specifically: the prizes.
Oh... what prizes they are.

The grand champion receives 18 brand spanking new Veteran baskets and tee signs; a $2000 voucher for merch from the Dynamic Discs web store; $500 voucher every year for 20 years from the Dynamic Discs web store. I've done absolutely no research whatsoever - but the total value of this prize appears to be one of the heaviest payouts to an Amateur champion in recent history, off simply years of following along.

The best part of the opportunity to compete: the trip to finals is funded for the qualifiers, at least to the first $500 spent. An entirely new group of players will be open to the belief that they can be a US Amateur Champion - it opens all of those players to a greater travel range than they would normally consider for a major event.

There are also prizes for the finishers at the top of the lower level brackets. Along with multiple coveted burst discs as part of a $45 player pack for all entrants. The entire package feels like an astounding and exciting new opportunity for players.

If the format was enticing, the potential prize package served as a clarion call to anybody in the disc golf community that felt in any way held back by inconsistency, with the very best players drooling over the possibilities already. Within my local community this match play fever has resulted in the need for a qualifying event. Here in the Toledo, Ohio area we will be running a single round of stroke play at one of the layouts to be used during tournament play (the semi-final layout). Our local club will be using the qualifying round as a fundraising event, to help build club coffers toward an eventual purchase of replacement baskets for one of our local courses.

The US Amateur Match Play event, through the depth of its prize package, has managed to elevate itself from a small and fun event, to something that can help drive club fundraising in the community. Match play fever is catching. It is proving to be a benefit to our community. Look into how it can be a benefit to yours at:  http://discgolfmatchplay.com

See you on the links!

Chris Wojciechowski
Friday, March 9, 2018

Carts vs Bags - Which Do You Prefer?

The founding fathers of disc golf didn’t have much of the incredible gear that players have access to nowadays. From comfortable bags to easy-to-use carts, nearly anyone that hits the course has the freedom to choose what works best for them.

But is there a distinct advantage that a cart provides over a bag or vice versa? How does carrying your discs compare to rolling them? Today let’s break down the pros and cons of using carts and bags, and how a new player might want to view their gear.

When Are Bags The Right Choice?

Often viewed as the tried and true method for taking your discs out to the course, a bag offers the comfort and convenience that many players are used to. Years ago, bags were more rectangularly shaped with one strap for your shoulder, but manufacturers have come a long way since then.

Now, the most popular option is the backpack style bag, with two straps that balance the bag’s weight more evenly across your shoulders and back. Not only are bags a pretty comfortable option, but they also offer the ability to be hands-free as you walk along the course. Keep a cool drink in your hand and your scorecard in the other, all while your discs are taking a ride on your body.

There’s also a fairly low barrier to entry when it comes to bags, as you can purchase a high-quality backpack style like the DD Trooper Bag for under $40. Those who want to splurge a bit more can spend upwards of $200 for something like the DD Ranger H2O.

If you ever hear a complaint about a disc golf bag, it’s that by the end of a round or two your back starts to hurt. Truth be told - even the most comfortable bags out there can’t compensate for the fact that you’re carrying the weight of a small child’s worth of discs. Plus, accessibility can be frustrating for some, as you have to take your bag off each and every time you need a disc. New players might be wise to invest a small amount of money in a backpack style bag to see if it’s something they like before shelling out the big bucks.

Rolling Into The Future With Carts

Despite the advancements in bag craftsmanship over the years, you’ll find some disc golfers who are cart fans to the bitter end. Whether you play in hot temperatures and want to save your energy for your game or you simply don’t want the weight of your discs on your back, a cart is a smart way to go.

Practice rounds, tournament play, and even field work can all become a bit easier when you utilize a cart, which is essentially a metal housing for your bag with rugged all-terrain wheels and a handle. Competitive players, like Dynamic Discs Team Member Paige Pierce, rely on using a cart to enhance their performance on the course, attributing their success to their increased energy.

While a cart is certainly a great option, it does come with some drawbacks. Some courses with rough terrain and a lot of foliage might inhibit your use of a cart, as it’s harder to bring it right alongside you. A tricky lie means leaving your cart on the fairway while you trek through the shrubbery. Especially rocky or steep ground can also cause some issues for carts despite their durable wheels.

Cost can be a prohibiting factor too, as you not only need to purchase a bag for your discs but also the cart itself. Although a high-quality DD Cart by ZUCA is priced affordably at $195, you’re still paying for two sets of premium gear. Those who are new to the sport should plan on investing in a cart later down the line unless their physical ability would greatly benefit from the use of one right off the bat.

We’d love to know what you prefer - do carts make more sense when you’re playing a tournament, or are bags the way to go at all times? Let us know in the comments below!
Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Future Looks Bright For New DD Team Member AJ Risley

A lot of people didn’t have such a great 2017, as memes about it were spread far and wide across the internet. Yet for AJ Risley, it was a huge year, bringing along major career milestones and a switch to the Dynamic Discs team. We got a chance to chat with AJ before he embarked on this season’s tour to get an idea of what’s in store for 2018.

Positivity Above All Else

If you’ve ever met Risley, you’ll instantly notice how nice of a guy he is. With a happy demeanor and the ability to view any situation from a positive perspective, it’s helped him to propel his mental game while on the disc golf course. Going on tour can prove to be a grueling challenge, but AJ brings an empowering perspective: “[Don’t] compare yourself too harshly to others, never give up until the final putt drops, and enjoy and appreciate the time off the course and the opportunity to be in the position you’re in.”

And what a position to be in, as Risley has a long list of accolades from 2017. From a 20th place finish at Ledgestone to playing on the lead card at USDGC and rounding out the year in 10th place in the National Tour Points Series, you can say that he’s got the momentum needed to make a huge splash this year.

Focusing On The Mechanics

Having first played disc golf at age 10 and turning pro in 2013, AJ has had plenty of time to get his game dialed in. Part of his secret to success can be attributed to his earlier involvement in baseball and football combined with his ambidextrous abilities. “I throw righty backhand, but I’m actually left-handed,” he said. “Batting left-handed helped develop my right-hand backhand muscle memory.”

Despite his ability to execute flex shots, hyzer-flips, and anhyzers with ease (his three favorite shots to throw), Risley finds there’s still room to improve. “Mechanically, I’ve been developing my forehand game over the past couple months and I’m excited to utilize that in 2018. My primary focus for this season is to maintain my 1000-rated consistency and continue to elevate my game from there.”

Secrets To His Success

AJ has a distinct advantage when it comes to getting practice time in as a resident of Southern California. He notes that the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees, allowing him to fine-tune his game during the winter season. Not only does he hit the course, but he makes sure to get in some gym time and even watches film to stay fresh.

We’re all eager to see what this season has in store for AJ and are excited to have him on the team. It seems the feeling is mutual: “Being a part of this team is more than just a chance to throw some Swedish plastic. It’s an opportunity to represent a company and group of individuals that are as passionate about this sport as I am.” Keep your eyes out for big things this year from this talented player!
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The DD Team Q&A

At Dynamic Discs we aim to be a lot of things - we make awesome discs for everyone from the casual player to the professional athlete. Our store hosts an assortment of clothing, bags, and accessories to make sure your disc golf game is functional, comfortable, and looking good.

But above all else, we really pride ourselves on the support that our team members give to those across the nation. While you may not have a DD team member in your own backyard, our players are traveling the country more often than not, and always have the time for a helpful tip or even a selfie!

At the recent WhalePants Bag of Tricks event in Carrollton, Texas, our players took the time to host a Q&A with everyone in attendance, offering advice and a platform for people to ask their most burning questions. We know it's a long video, but think of it as a short movie you can enjoy. At the very least, listen to the sage wisdom of our sponsored players while you do other activities to let their feedback sink in.

We've found that improving your disc golf game requires as much time working on what's between your ears as the time you spend grinding on the course. It's our hope that some of the info in this Q&A may dramatically change the way you approach a specific element of your game!