DIY: From Christmas Tree to Disc Golf Basket

My name is Adam. I've been disc golfing for about a year now. I'm still relatively new to the world of disc golf, but have found that I really enjoy it. I typically play between 1-3 times per week. If you are anything like me, after getting down the basics of disc golf you found yourself thinking about ways to practice, in hopes of improving your game. More specifically, ways to practice realistically in order to improve your game. Its pretty easy to find a field to practice drives and mid range shots, taking aim at any suitable objects at reasonable distances within these fields, open areas, etc. However, when practicing putting, a target that closely resembles what you would see out on the course is obviously best, and will help you to become a more accurate and consistant player. Sure, you can practice putting with anything from office chairs, to signs, to buckets on poles, but naturally, the more realistic the "target" is that you are putting at, the more realistic practice you will get. With that said, I tried the alternatives, but decided that I needed something a little more realistic to practice on. Something with chains that I could rattle, and at least looked somewhat like a disc golf basket. A wide variety of options existed. From very expensive, full-spec competition baskets, to less expensive basic "on course" baskets, to least expensive "practice" baskets. The problem is trying to find the right mix between maintaining the realism of the basket, while at the same time keeping the price affordable. About six months ago, after some research, I bought a Mach Lite portable basket made by DGA. It is a nice basket and suited my needs well. I believe I paid about $130-$140 for it. As far as a practice basket goes, it was a pretty good basket. Well made, portable, inner and outter chains, etc. I used (and still use) it quite a bit to this day. Fast forward. I found myself wanting another basket for two reasons. One, it would be nice to be able to toss back and forth between baskets. Two, my family owns some wooded lakeside property that I would LOVE to have a few realistic, yet affordable baskets on. I decided that none of the available options suited my needs. They were either too expensive, or not very realistic. After thinking about it, and taking a quick peek at what kind of parts it would take, I decided to try my hand at building a DIY (Do It Yourself) basket to see if I could get the best of both worlds (realistic yet affordable). It all started with a fake xmas tree my wife and I were going to get rid of. I decided to strip the tree limbs, needles, etc. and use the base, pole, limbs, etc. to get started on the basket. The following pictures document my process and experience building the basket.
Approx. 3/4 of the way through de-limbing the tree.

 

I removed the remaining limbs (except 1 row being used as the inner chain holder).

Next, I sanded, primered, and painted the pole "metallic silver".

After looking around for potential items to use as a basket, I decided I'd be better off just making one. I bought a pre-cut piece of 2' x 2' 1/2" thick plywood, then used my mach lite basket as a rough blueprint. I bought some cheap 4" by 8" shelf brackets for the outer wall supports of the basket. (Borrowed some ideas from the "wilson basket" design)

This picture shows the basket bottom cut out and brackets spaced evenly on it.

Here, the center hole has been cut and the basket "test fit" onto the pole. Beneath the basket is a pvc "collar" that slips over the pole and is what the basket will attach to.

The basket was then cut for weight reduction purposes and painted to match the silver center pole.

Chains were the most expensive part. I went with 12 outer & 6 inner chains. (18 chains at 27" each. I used 2/0 chain as it is very close to the size and thickness the chains would be on a course basket).

I used some plywood that I had left over in my shed for the top/outer chain mount. I cut it square at 22" per side, then measured every 30° from the center point to get 12 evenly spaced arms. The metal arms are actually stripped limbs from the xmas tree being bent into shape and re-used.

Holes were drilled for the arms to mount through at every corner. I mounted the arms with short, wide head screws.

I ended up painting it red to match my DGA mach lite (red/silver)

Test Fit: top/outer chain mount, inner 6 chains and ring. I used a 2 inch pvc collar to brace the underside of the top/outer chain support.

This picture shows the top attached with the outer chains mounted. I cut a wire hanger and bent it into a 6" diameter circle to use as the ring that the outer chains attach to.

I wrapped 3 lengths of light duty hose in red electrical tape to match the top of the basket, then attached it to the brackets with some small nuts/bolts to form the outer walls of the basket.

Since the very top of the tree fits snugly into to the top of the pole being used, I decided to strip all but the last few fake tree limbs, paint the pole silver, top limbs red, and use it as an optional "flag/pole" to help find the pin when shooting from a distance.

Final hose has been attched and the basket is officially DONE!

The aftermath.....

Specifications:
56" to top of chain rack
22" diameter chain rack/top
24"/26" diameter basket (depends if measuring from corners or faces of basket edge) by 8" deep
24" from the ground to the bottom of basket
12 outer chains (2/0 chain)
6 inner chains (2/0 chain)

Recycled parts:
Fake Xmas tree stand, pole, limbs, top, other small misc.stuff

Bought parts:
18 pieces of chain by 27" long for total of 40.5ft of 2/0 chain (approx $45)
PVC collars (2) (approx $4)
Spray pain [optional] (1red, 1silver) (approx $7)
50' light duty hose (have leftover) (approx $10)
Large roll of red elec tape [optional] (approx $5)
12 shelf brackets (8 basket rim, 4 basket support) (approx $12)
2" steel ring for outer chains to mount to (approx $2)
Misc. screws,nuts,bolts,fasteners (approx $10)

Total Out of Pocket Expense:  Approx $95
*Supply list can be changed to adjust the price. There were also some left over parts (if you are building multiple baskets this could save some $) The spray paint and elec tape were strictly for aesthetic purposes. If you remove these, the price adjusts to about $80.

Total time spent:  Several hours a day for approx 1 week. (much of this time was dedicated to deconstructing the tree.)

Final Result:  A basket that mimics very closely what you would see and use out on a disc golf course without costing the amount of money it would take to purchase a pre-manufactured basket. I modeled the chain structure after the DGA mach new 2. http://www.discgolf.com/equipment/ba...lf-basket.html. It is nice and solid and catches noticably more realistic then other practice baskets I've tossed at. It is a bit heavy when compared with most "portable" baskets out there, but can be moved by one person without issue. It can also be taken apart very easily for longer transport. Everything has been mounted securely and is very stable. I made a point to keep it as close to regulation specs as I could. It catches very well and will serve me (and my game) well into the future.

My goal is to share the results of this DIY basket project in hopes of inspiring other disc golfers out there to think creatively, and take opportunities to recycle, or use repurposed materials whenever possible. Also, to show that for the price of a rather cheap manufactured basket that often times sacrifices realism in an attempt to keep cost down, you can make your own, far more realistic basket and get the best of both worlds. There is also something quite fulfilling about looking at a finished product, when you are the one responsible for its creation. Happy Hucking!

Grips and Putting: A Video Tutorial

Kyle demonstrates various disc golf grips and shows you how to use proper form when putting.

Proper Disc Golf Driving Technique: A Video Tutorial

Kyle demonstrates proper form when driving.

The X Step: A Video Tutorial

Watch as Kyle demonstrates how to properly use the X step to add distance to your drives.

Disc Golf Terms

Hyzer- Used to describe a type of shot when the disc is released with the wing down.  This creates a very hard curve to the left for a right handed back hand thrower (RHBH), or a hard curve to the right for a left handed backhand thrower (LHBH).  This shot allows players to really rip into the disc and put full power on the throw without worrying about flipping the disc over.

This is how you would release the disc for a hyzer flight.

This is how you would release the disc for a hyzer flight.

Anhyzer- Used to describe a type of shot when the disc is released with the wing up.  This creates a curve to the right for a right handed back hand thrower, or a curve to the left for a left handed backhand thrower.  This shot allows players to counter the natural tendencies of the disc.  This shot is most effective with an under stable disc.

This is how you would throw a disc with an anhyzer flight.

This is how you would throw a disc with an anhyzer flight.

S-curve- This describes the flight path of a disc when thrown with slight anhyzer.  The disc will start out flying to the right for a RHBH thrower and then finish fading left.  This shot allows players to increase their distance and to curve around objects.

Stable- This describes how the disc will fly.  A stable disc will have a tendency to fly straight and to finish with little to no fade.

Over stable- This describes how the disc will fly.  An over stable disc will have a tendency to fly straight and finish hard to the left for a RHBH thrower or hard to the right for a LHBH thrower.

Under stable- This describes how the disc will fly.  An under stable disc will have a tendency to fly straight and finish to the right for a RHBH thrower or to the left for a LHBH thrower.

Turnover- Used to describe the amount of anhyzer and or power a player puts on their throw.  When a player turns their drive over, normally the disc will cut hard into the ground and either skip, roll, or die.

Innova Flight Chart- It seems as though no company ever uses the same flight chart/system to rate their discs.  Innova has four different boxes/numbers to describe the flight of their discs.

  • Speed- this is the disc’s ability to cut through the air and how fast it can fly.  The numbers range from a 1 all the way to a 13!  The lower numbers, 1-5, are going to be your mid ranges and putters.  The next level will be the fairway drivers, 6&7.  Finally you get your distance drivers, 8-13.
  • Glide- this is the disc’s ability to maintain loft.  The numbers range from 1-7.  The lower numbers will drop out of the air faster, leaving you less chance the disc will sail past the basket.  The discs with higher glide ratings are best for new players or players looking to get more distance out of their throws.
  • Turn- This is the discs ability to turn to the right for a RHBH thrower during the fastest part of its flight.  The rating scale is from -5 to +1.  The lower the number, the more the disc will turn.  Discs with a low number make it easier for players to get a distance increasing S curve out of their throw.  The discs with number -3 through -5 are the easiest to throw roller shots with.
  • Fade- This is the discs ability to cut to the left for a RHBH thrower or cut to the right for a LHBH thrower as the disc slows down during flight.  It is based on a 0-5 rating scale with a 0 finishing straight, and a 5 will finish hard to the right for a RHBH thrower.  New players should look for discs that have a fade around 0.

Discraft Flight Chart- Just about every Discraft disc has the stability stamped on it.  Their scale ranges from a -1 to a 2.6.  The numbers from -1 to 0 are on the under stable to stable range, numbers 0 to 1.5 are the stable discs, and numbers 1.5 to 2.6 are in the stable to over stable category.  Their flight chart takes each disc and lists the stability of that disc in each plastic, if it is made in the 150 class, if it’s a good wind disc, if it’s a good roller disc, and if its beginner friendly.  On the side of the chart, they break down the types of plastics and their advantages.

Disc Weights- Disc weights will max out at about 180 g.  As far as disc weights go, the lighter discs are easier for new players.  New players will benefit from the lighter discs because the lighter the disc, it is generally going to be on the under stable side of that discs flight characteristics.  I’m not saying that you can get a brand new disc that is rated to be as over stable as a Predator in 150 g and be flipping it over from the first throw.  I just mean that when thrown, the disc will stay on a stable and straight flight path for longer.  The lighter weights also are easier to throw because it is less mass that you have to accelerate to throw, allowing you to get greater speed and rotation on the disc.  This could allow you to get that sought after S curve on the flight of your drive.  There are discs in a super light weight class called the 150 g class.  These discs will be best for children, women, or anyone with a weaker arm.  These are some of the lightest discs out there and will truly give you the distance and accuracy you want when just starting out.  Pro players and players with a lot of power tend to throw max weight discs or discs that are near max weight due to the fact that they can really power that extra mass for extra distance.

Teaching a Friend to Play Disc Golf

I went out a few weeks ago with my friend Mike who had never even heard of disc golf before, let alone played it.  I personally enjoy introducing friends to the sport, even though it can slow down a round of 18 considerably. This is not the first time I've taken a friend out, but this time I decided to learn from past mistakes and try a few new things. My goal was to get Mike to throw straight and avoid losing any discs on his first round.  Here was my strategy:

1. No Drivers - Let's face it...drivers are hard to control and if you can't throw one straight, it's going to get lost. There is  nothing more frustrating that spending more time looking for discs than actually playing disc golf.  I've seen lots of friends get turned off of the sport because of frustration. No Innova Katana today!

2. Understable Mid-Ranges - I let Mike use my favorite beaten-in Innova Stingray for his drives. If you've never thrown a stingray before I highly recommend it. It's the only mid-range I've used that will hold an anhyzer forever.   Mike found a lot of success on drives with my Stingray.

3.  Just Throw Straight - My initial instructions were to avoid "muscling" the disc and just throw it straight. To Mike's surprise (not mine) his drives were going farther at 50% power. All experienced disc golfers know this, but to a beginner it is hard to imagine form beats muscle every time. We've all seen 150 lb kids huck a disc 400 ft. (and felt ashamed afterwards!)

As a result of my teachings (and just because disc golf is awesome) Mike had a really good time. Since then he picked out a few new discs (BUZZZ, Surge SS, Wizard...some of my favorites)