Watch as Kyle demonstrates how to properly use the X step to add distance to your drives.
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Every time I step foot on a disc golf course, it absolutely boggles my mind how the sport is completely unknown to the majority of the world. You ask anybody on God’s given earth if they have heard of basketball, and what do they say? Yes. What about disc golf? It’s incredible that a sport that is so good on so many levels has yet to reach the mainstream public. A basketball court is comprised of two hoops, a large amount of cement and a basketball. It has a low start up cost (nearly free) for users, but the nearly $10,000 capital investment for the folks installing the court is a bit pricey. Add in the fact that cement is an impervious surface that contributes to erosion and degradation of streams, the court needs to be on a completely flat piece of land and that at its highest time of use can only accommodate 10 players, it’s funny how basketball is so common yet disc golf is so foreign.
With that being said, disc golf courses can go anywhere! Courses not only CAN go along riparian corridors and unbuildable slopes, but they SHOULD. Think of all the beautiful places you have seen in your lifetime and how badly you wished more people knew about it. Why don’t they know about it? It’s probably a bunch of reasons, but two of them are usually the fact that it is in a location that not many know about and that no one is taking them there. Well, enter disc golf. Disc golf can be the conduit for helping people interact with nature! Slopes over 25% are extremely costly to re-grade and situate a building upon, and with 200’ buffers along streams and riparian corridors, buildings simply can’t be located in these locations. Once again, enter disc golf. With no permanent foundations or playing surfaces, disc golf holes can follow streams and wetlands as well as ridge lines and even mountain tops. To tie back to the statement about basketball, disc golf can accommodate up to 72 people at one time (assuming the course is an 18 hole course and every hole has a foursome playing it), and the capital investment is minimal. Assuming that the course uses top of the line baskets, compacted gravel tee pads and signage for each hole, it’s still only around $7,000. Many courses decide to reach out to local businesses to sponsor holes. With a price tag of $250 per sponsor, and two sponsors per hole, the capital investment has been recouped and courses can now think about spending the extra cash on course improvements. Sounds fun!
Spending the last four years living in Amherst, MA has giving me some of the best memories of my entire life. Having a huge work load at UMass, I was unable to venture out too far to see what Western Massachusetts had to offer. I spent the majority of my time doing school work and seeing music, but I would still frequent Northampton State Hospital Disc Golf Course and The Highlands of Conway multiple times a week, year round. Sadly, I didn’t get to play too many other courses besides Crane Hill Disc Golf Course in Wilbraham, MA, Wickham Park in Manchester, CT and a few others, but I still heard great things about some of the courses along Route 2 like Flat Rock Disc Golf in Athol and Tully Lake Disc Golf in Royalston. Finally, on my four day break from Zach Deputy tour, I was able to make it up to Flat Rock in Athol. The previous two days had seen my friends and I play rounds in Wilbraham and Conway, so to continue the adventure we drove 35 minutes north to Athol to play this private course.
Only getting some information from friends and DG Course Review, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew the course was quite challenging and that it laid on private property with state conservation land flanking the holes as its boundaries. When we pulled up, we were all blown away. The disc golf store is situated in a rustic looking barn that lays adjacent to a small garden and the first tee box. The garden is closed off by a twig laced fence and acts as an out of bounds on the 14th hole. While enjoying the garden, some of us take putts on the 14th basket to warm up for what is promised to be a memorable round. As we walk over to the 1st tee, we see wooden structures, rustic metal sculptures and environmental art dotted throughout the landscape. The message board is stocked with information, including an honesty box, sign in sheet, hole in one shout outs and tournament announcements. The attention to detail that caught my eye was the pencil sharpener and bottle opener! It’s common for disc golfer to enjoy a nice beverage while they play, and not every pencil is the sharpest, so why not give the players what they need an want to enjoy their round to the fullest.
As we stand on the 1st tee and look down the fairway, we search for the pin as the dog leg right hole keeps the target just out of sight. To our delight, we look to the sign for information and I see my first ever 3 dimensional hole layout. Small rocks denote the rock wall that acts as the out of bounds along the roadway, while small plugs show the large trees that give the hole its shape. The pin and tee are marked with blue dots as we survey the landscape and map to find which disc we’re going to huck first. Naturally, I take out my Valkyrie as low flying bullet that turns a little right should leave me in perfect position to ease into this tightly wooded course with a par. I’m awestruck as I approach my disc on the edge of the fairway that is lined with flowering mountain laurel and rock outcroppings. The course is absolutely gorgeous and we’ve only played one hole! As we walk down the road to the far removed 2nd tee, we stare into the woods at the large canopy trees and ferns scattered along the forest floor. We’re all so happy to be with one another on this beautiful June day as we try our hand at what is to be an enjoyable day on the disc golf course.
The 2nd hole opens up a bit more, but a large pit full of wood chips lies in the middle of the fairway, awaiting big booming drives or sloppy second shots. Just over the crest of the hill, the unassuming player will dump their second shot in this out of bounds pit, which is home to an assortment of strawberry plantings. More out of bounds awaits players on the next 16 holes, so keep your shots straight and long. It is that easy, right? The 3rd hole is one of my favorites on the course, with a narrow fairway and a hanging basket. If you’re even lucky enough to hit the fairway, a Wolf would suit any player well as a disc that moves slightly to the right and sits quick will award a birdie opportunity. If you can pick you position here, be pin high left or a little long, as the hanging basket hovers over a ledge that drops off severally on two sides. If you don’t have a makeable putt, take your par and get out, but if you feel like risking a birdie for a bogey, go for it…just don’t be surprised when you hit the basket and the disc rolls 30 feet to the bottom of the hill.
The 4th hole is a short, but challenging hole, and the 5th and 6th holes give each player a fair shake at birdie. If you don’t make birdie on at least one of these holes you’re asking for trouble as the last couple holes of the front nine and the majority of the back nine don’t leave you with many opportunities to pick up strokes. The back nine is significantly longer than the front, but by the time you get to the 11th hole you’re ready to bust out a big Sidewinder and see if you can turn the corner on what is, in my opinion, the hardest hole on the course. If you were to remember one hole at Flat Rock Disc Golf, it would probably be the 12th, which demands a precise drive and approach shot to an almost island green that is 50 or so feet below, all the while surrounded by slow flowing water and more flowering mountain laurels.
The last three holes I will mention quickly catch anyone’s attention. The 13th hole actually made me laugh out loud. A short par three, this hole boasts a multi leader tree that splits the fairway in two, offering players to either split their drive between the tree limbs or take it to the right of them. The only thing about going right is a small stick figure blocks your shot. Flat Rock is dotted with goofy faces carved into wood and sculptures to catch your attention. This stick figure sits atop a dead tree with its goofy smile and an arm holding up a disc. The arm holding the disc is so perfectly positioned that it forces you to abort the low hyzer shot and makes you contemplate splitting the trees in the middle of the fairway. This was my worst shot of the day as I hit a tree and went deep into the brush on the right, forcing me to grind out an ugly bogey and be happy it was only that. The 17th and 18th holes are the first and only holes that really bring water into play. Crisscrossing a pond that sits in the owner’s backyard, these holes demand two opposite disc flights. A low hyzer Roc works just fine on 17, as the hyzer helps keep the disc under the tree limps past the pond, while allowing the disc to skip all the way back to the basket. The 18th hole asks for a long anhyzer drive with something like a Sidewinder, Beast or Katana. These two holes utilize the same pond, one being a short mid range with the other being a long driver, and really put an exclamation point on one of the finest courses in Western Massachusetts or New England as a whole.
To wrap this review up, I can’t stress enough how terrific this course is. From tightly wooded slot shots to big D field opportunities this course tests the depth of your bag. As you make your way through the 18 hole layout, stacked rock outcroppings and environmental art gives a delightful playfulness to the course. None of the tee boxes are permanent, but they are level and compacted so there really is no problem with them at all. Signage from hole to hole is very well done so wayfinding is fairly self explanatory. With a couple hanging baskets dotted throughout the course, there is even variety in the placement of baskets. I can’t say enough good things about this course as the towering pines, flowering mountain laurel and alternate pathways entice players to take a stroll in the woods and almost forget about why they are there. Flat Rock Disc Golf is disc golf at its finest…testing every shot in the bag all the while taking players somewhere they’ve never seen before. We as disc golf course players and designers need to use the sport as an extension of the landscape, helping to bring players and non-players alike to some of the most beautiful, unexplored tracts of land that this fine country has to offer. Thank you to Chenoa Charpentier for pictures!
Vibram has made a name for themselves in the disc golf scene by their top of the line putters made from rubber. Seeing how their putters are becoming more and more popular, they started to make drivers. Their first driver is the Ascent. It is a stable fairway driver that is perfect for wooded courses. Like the putters, the Ascent comes in different firmnesses, x-link and x-link firm. I have the regular x-link and man is it sweet. I know that when I walk up to a hole where the fairway is narrow or there is no fairway that when I throw the Ascent, it will not kick off a tree hard deep into the woods. The regular x-link just bends and flops when it hits a tree, preventing miserable kicks that would add strokes to your score. The rubber doesn’t flop around in your hand, but only will bend and fold when hitting something hard. It is this reason why I will never head to a course without this disc because I know I have an advantage over other players whose discs would get those bad kicks.
The Ascent is a very straight flying disc when thrown with some snap to it. It is a perfect disc for shots that are around 300ft. When thrown harder, it will make a real nice s curve. At the end of the flight, the Ascent had a nice little fade to the end. It’s nothing serious, just a nice little finish to the left (RHBH). There is a decent amount of glide to the disc, so it will go for a while.
When looking down the fairway, and I can only see a narrow gap and trees, I look for one disc, the Ascent. I feel as though the Ascent in the regular x-link is a must have disc for anyone playing in the North East or on a course with tight fairways. After watching how this disc reacts when thrown is a great thing, but watching the disc prevent strokes when hitting trees is even sweeter.
Don’t worry, even pros hit trees, so take action to help you out when you hit them.
I can’t say enough about how sweet the plastic is from Latitude. I have the River in the Opto line plastic and it is amazing. It has great grip, durability, and is just soft enough but still firm. I’m hooked on Latitude discs just because of the plastic. Now, about the River.
The River is in the control/fairway driver area. This mean the river isn’t going to be flying the furthest for you, but you should be able to control its flight. I would compare the River to a faster Leopard with more glide to it. These qualities combine for a great disc when in the woods and you need a shot to stay clean. The River doesn’t take much to get it a good ways due to the glide and it being on the under stable to stable side of the flight chart.
I use this disc for a few different shots. I feel as though it is best for me when throwing a slow turning anhyzer flick shot that turns the whole way and will slightly fade back at the end (Using this shot and disc helped me tie for 1st place at a big tournament). I just flick the disc nice and easy, watch it start to turn and let the glide take over and the River just carries.
Another great thing about the River is that it will hold a great line. I really need to pay attention to my release angle because the River will leave at that angle and stay on that flight path. This helps a lot of players because they can get that instant feedback on seeing how they threw the disc. This can help a new player out because they learn about wrist angles and how they change disc flight.
I would recommend the River to any level player. New players can learn a lot from throwing this disc. Experienced players can have the pin point accuracy needed on the course. If you are looking for a disc with glide, control, durability, and can fly pretty far, get yourself a River.
So about a month ago now I threw my Buzzz SS into the Rum River, leaving me wide open to try and find a new mid-range. Rather than go back to the familiar Buzzz family for a new mid disc, I decided to try some of the wide variety of Innova mid range discs available. I had read some good stuff about the Skeeter, and I like the fact that it verges on being a fairway driver/mid range/putter hybrid. With this in mind, I ordered up a Star and DX Skeeter, both in the 170s. I also ordered several other models of mid range discs including Rock, Spider, Stingray, Coyote and Mako. They all arrived pretty much around the same time, I tried the Skeeter out first, and ever since I have pretty much been in love with it to the point where I haven't hardly even used any of the other Mids I picked up.
The thing I really like about the Skeeter is it is truly an all purpose disc. I have played a couple courses where I have shot almost all my shots with the same Skeeter, regardless of whether it was a drive, approach or putt. I'm a relatively newer player and am still working on perfecting my drive. The Skeeter is probably the most controllable disc I have found for driving with. It's not going to break any distance records, but you can put it on a line and get a predictable finish, and for newer players like myself, I find it to be very helpful for working on my form and showing me results when my release and form are on point. You can also use the Skeeter for putting. Personally, I still prefer my Dart for many putts, but the Skeeter works surprisingly well. It's also especially helpful for those putts where you don't really want to use a mid range, but might not necessarily want to use a putter either.
As far as mid range shots go, I really love the Skeeter. I have been getting more accurate approaches with it than just about any other disc I've used since I started playing disc golf. It has a nice straight flight pattern coupled with a predictable finish AND it has more distance than many other mids that I've tried which allows me to keep the fairway driver in the bag and use the Skeeter for my second shot off of a drive on a long hole or bad first shot. AND as I mentioned before, it's also great as a driver and if you're playing a course with a lot of shorter holes, you may finding yourself driving with the Skeeter quite a bit. I don't have the kind of range that some people do, but I feel pretty comfortable driving with a Skeeter on any holes that are 250 feet or less. More experienced players with better distance could probably easily get another 100 feet out of one.
I also had a DX Skeeter which I did not use nearly as much. I only played one round with it before losing it (that's another story), so I can't give an extremely accurate review of how it flies in comparison to a Star Skeeter, but from the limited amount of throws I did use it for, I found the flight pattern to be slightly less predictable than the Star Skeeter. I did just pick up another first run DX Skeeter from a nearby Play it Again Sports the other day and I plan to beat it in really good to get a better feel for how a DX, especially beat in DX Skeeter flies.
Last but not least, I have noticed that the Skeeter is available in weights as low as 150 grams, and I intend to pick one up at that weight and try it out. It might be useful for longer shots on calm days. I'm excited to see how it stacks against the heavier Star model I have now.
Overall, I highly recommend this disc. Especially great for new players, but I could definitely see it being worthy of a spot in just about anyone's bag.
I have a special attachment to the Rhyno. It was my first putter and I have encourperated the Rhyno into a slogan for my disc golf crew, Team Raging Roid Rhyno. I didn’t fully understand the nature of the Rhyno when I first got it, because I had just started playing. I loved the disc, but I didn’t know how to use it to its full potential. I knew it was a very over stable disc and I kept that in mind.
Recently I walked into my favorite disc golf store (Marshall Street Disc Golf) and walked past some of the most beautiful discs I’ve seen. Champion Rhynos look like a diamond among rocks. I picked one up and felt just how grippy the champion plastic felt and how soft it was. It felt as though I was picking up a supersoft putter, but it was in champion plastic! After holding the disc, I was sold on buying it (I walked into the shop with no intentions of buying a disc).
Back to about the flight of the disc. The Rhyno is an overstable putt and approach disc. I feel as though the Rhyno is the best approach discs out there. You can throw this thing hard and you know it is going to fade back for you. It will hold a straight line, it will make a nice S-curve when thrown with anhyzer, and it works for hyzers and hyzer spikes. This is where the softness of the chapion plastic really comes in to play. When the disc spikes in the ground or just hits the ground, it really does just die. This is something I still can’t get over, seeing a champion disc this soft and just dying when it hits the ground. When you have to go around something to hyzer in a putt, you shouldn’t be reaching for anything besides the Rhyno. It will hyzer enough to make sharp cuts without being thrown up high. The Rhyno is also a great disc for flick approaches. You can put a decent amount of power on it and it will fly dead straight and have that same dependable fade at the end. Something else to add to the list of positives about the Rhyno is that it has the right amount of glide. I can line up my shot with the Rhyno and feel confident going for the basket without thinking about gliding way past the basket. Another feature the Rhyno offers is a Thumb-Track grip on top. This means that the rim of the disc is just raised above the inside of the disc, adding a better grip which adds control. Just having the Rhyno in my bag gives me a confidence that I can get out of sticky situations.
If you are in the market for a new mid range/approach disc, you really need to get the Rhyno. It is a true work horse on the course and can easily handle drives, approaches, and putts. I highly recommend the Rhyno, and while you’re at it, get it in the champion plastic. When you need something with some fade at the end of the flight, the Rhyno is a great choice.
After a year or more of switching from one to another, I've finally found my go to putter…the Ion! Manufactured by MVP Disc Sports, LLC in Michigan, this unique disc is where it’s at. Even though the Ion is my go to putter, I do keep two others in my bag. I tend to prefer to use my XD for drives and longer tosses from the fairway, while I use my JuJu for high arching shots that need to bend around tree limbs and sit soft. The Ion is primarily used for putts that I’m looking to drain as the high arching floaters from the JuJu are rarely high percentage shots. I’m just trying to give myself a chance, all the while having the disc sit soft enough where I’m going to make the come backer. As great as the XD and JuJu are, when I’m trying to bang one in the back of the chains…out comes the Ion.
The Ion is a straight flying putter with a lot of glide. The over-molded, soft edge is great for the chains to receive the disc, while providing unbelievable comfort in the hands of players of all levels. The main difference between this disc and common disc golf discs is the different materials it is comprised of. MVP Disc Sports, LLC has named this GYRO Technology. It is a dual-polymer concept where the flight plate core is constructed of a lighter plastic than the darker, heavier material that comprises the over-mold edge. Th
e juxtaposition between the materials allows for a “stabilized disc flight that keeps it spinning later in flight to produce straighter, longer and more accurate results,” according to the manufacturer’s website.
There are multiple selections in firmness of these discs, but the heavier plastic material on the over-mold edge remains the same super soft, grippy egde that is optimal for grabbing the chains, minimizing kick outs. I see this point, but I also tend to use my Ion through twigs and underbrush like I do my significantly heavier Wolf. It has a great glide to it, but I feel the Ion penetrates through the trees like a mid range. Most putters get kicked directly down by twigs, but my Ion just keeps on trucking so I can confidently use it to get back into position or stroke a birdie.
I would suggest this disc to any fellow disc golfer that is looking for a new putter. Maybe it’s not for you, but what’s the harm in trying? The feel of the disc really works for me. I wouldn’t suggest using the disc off the tee or for longer shots, as I don’t have as much confidence in it as my XD, but when I get up to the basket, the Ion ups my confidence ten fold. The over-mold edge helps the disc “melt” into the chains like the JuJu, but the stability of the disc is so much better. The Ion comes in several colors and is one of the only disc golf discs that are distributed as blanks. The price tag on a new Ion is right around $14.00 and is worth a shot for any disc golfer looking for a new weapon close to the basket.
Source of Images: MVP Disc Sports, LLC website (www.mvpdiscsports.com)
First and foremost, this is a member’s only course. You cannot play here unless you are a member or are with a member. This course is part of an apple orchard, brewery, farm attractions, and many more fun options. A stage is set up under the pavilion so live music can be heard often when visiting Hylands.
With that out of the way, what a beautiful piece of land! There is a great combination of open, grip and rip holes, and tight wooded holes. Each hole has elevation changes and some have a small creek running through it. The out of bounds lines really make you think your shots through and challenge your shots.
Pros - Great Elevation
- Great mix of long and short holes
- Great use of tight wooded shots
- Attention to small details (bridges, woodchips around pins)
- Lots of other activities to do (but why would you want to do anything besides play disc golf?)
- Massive downhill hole so it makes you feel like throwing 500ft is easy
- Very clean (there isn’t litter all over the course)
Cons - Members only
- Poison ivy is all over the place
- Very tall grass (this could be because it’s been raining so much)
- Most holes have only one tee/pin option
- Beer drinking rules (only certain beers can be drunken at certain holes of the course)
- Very buggy
- A couple long walks between tees
- Not all tees have tee pads, some are natural tees
Overall, Hylands is a good course. There are some awesome parts to it, but I feel as though there is so much potential not being utilized. I feel as though with time and some tweaking and more love, this course can be right up there with the best. This is a newer course and it shows. Paths need to be worn down for walking and this will get rid of some of the undergrowth that can hide discs. All in all this is a fun course and I suggest that you find yourself a member to take you so you can go play it.
Latitude is making a huge splash in the disc golf market. One of the greatest qualities of their discs are their durability. The Gold line plastic is best compared to Innova’s Star plastic and Discrafts’ ESP. In my opinion, the Gold line crushes both Star and ESP in the durability and grip categories. Latitude also makes discs in an Opto line plastic. This compares to Innova’s Champion plastic and Discrafts’ Z line. Again, the Opto line plastic lasts longer and has a greater grip than the competition. I’ve been throwing an Opto Riot for 3 years now and it has worn about the same as a few month old Champion Beast.
Enough about the plastic, let’s talk about the Halo. The Halo is a speed 13 driver that really lives up to the speed 13 name. I find the Halo to be more over stable than my Nuke. I can flick the halo in a dead straight line and it had a nice hard fade for me at the end. I normally don’t throw this for a back hand, but when I do it flies over stable as well. It will make a very small s-curve when thrown full power. I find that I can’t throw the Halo as far as my Nuke or Boss, but I love to flick this baby out in long wooded holes where I need a nice hard fade to the right. I know that when I throw the Halo right, it will do what I need it to. Something that I find with this disc is that it tends to rise when throwing it.
I would recommend this disc to someone who is looking for a disc in between a Boss and a Nuke. If you are turning over a Nuke or just want something with a little more fade, go for the Halo. If you haven’t held any of the Latitude 64 plastic, you need to go out and try some right away. I lost my Gold line Halo under the ice and snow this winter and it sat there for 2 months. I got back and it flew exactly as it did before. If you are looking for a new distance driver, think about the Halo. Whenever looking for a new disc, I will always see what Latitude 64 has to offer because I know their discs are made with some of the highest quality plastic out there.