The Memorial via

Practice makes perfect. Well, lots and lots and lots of practice, plus talent, makes almost perfect. But practice does equal improvement, and the more live broadcasts gets under its belt, the better it gets at it.

For the Memorial this week, I noticed that the announcers (David Greenwell, Crazy John Brooks, and the ‘Disc Golf Guy) are getting more comfortable and less repetitive, graphics were added to show hole layouts and player names, and the camera work is much more sophisticated. For their next big step forward I’d like to see some form of instant replay. I hate to admit it, but I craved it most in a Nascar-type moment, when a spotter was hit in the head by a Garret Guthrie drive. The guy got up and seemed okay, so I don’t feel too bad wanting to see it again. But instant replay would be a big deal for an ace or some other type of spectacular shot.

  • Another sign that the pro Tour is growing up is the fact that no one gets more than two or three NT wins in the Open division in a single season anymore. The days of a few elite players traveling the country and hoarding all the wins is over. As Greenwell pointed out on the broadcast, until the last few holes six players were within a couple strokes of the lead, and another three or four of the top-ranked players (Nate Doss, The Champ, #1 ranked Dave Feldberg, Avery Jenkins) were not among them
  • Josh Anton must hate pars. He’s a birdie machine, and it seems the only time he’s not carding birdies he’s taking bogey strokes because he can’t stand the idea of not birdying. If he learns how to mix in a dash more discretion into his game, he’ll be THE player to beat.
  • Props to my homie Nate Doss for keeping his cool after the first hole today. He had clawed back to only two shots off the lead after trailing by seven after the first round, and five after the second. The he took at snowman 8 on the first, and dug a hole he just couldn’t climb out of. Still, he showed the poise for which he is known, beating the rest of the group over the final 17 holes and not showing any frustration.
  • The last time I played the Memorial was 2003, and at the time I thought it was bush league that an NT event would be played on a course with grass teepads. I know that Fountain Hills now has those round cement pads, but I still saw the players teeing off grass again today on one temp hole. And I still say it’s bush.

Disc Review: the Vibram Ascent fairway driver

A few weeks ago I wrote a blahg entry about the fact that a major corporation (Vibram) outside of disc sports had begun marketing golf discs in earnest, and the significance of their entire line being made from rubber rather than a plastic compound. It was sort of a disc review-preview in advance of the individual disc reviews, and if you haven’t read it yet you can check it out here. Now, as promised, here is the first of four disc reviews I’ll provide (they sent me an example of each of their first four models- hopefully I’ll get to review their new mid-range and long range driver soon as well).

The Ascent is Vibram’s first driver- their first non-putter, in fact. After throwing it a bunch over the past two months I can say two things right off the bat:

  1. It is indeed very grippy and very, very durable, just as advertised, and as a result extremely reliable as well.
  2. I like it so much it’s earned a spot in my bag.

I’m looking forward to testing their new long-range driver called the ‘Trek’ when it comes out to see how it differs from the Ascent, which Vibram classifies as a ‘fairway driver’. A serious injury has forced me to permanently re-shape my game in acknowledgment of reduced power, but I get pretty much the same distance with the Ascent as with the other overstable drivers in my bag right now (FLX Surge, Star Katana, Star Destroyer). So in the distance sense, for me anyway, it’s as good as any other driver I throw. But I can see how it might be considered a fairway driver in the control sense, like when a ball golfer uses a three wood rather than a driver to keep the ball on the fairway or hit the green of a par 5 from 250 yards.

First of all – and I don’t know if it’s the unique properties of their rubber compound but will assume that’s the case – this disc can be thrown with all kinds of turnover angle and power and will still hyzer out at the end of its flight for me. (With my Katana this isn’t the case; it seems to have a point of no return where it gives up the ghost and just keeps turnin’.) But what’s really nice is that even though I don’t have a great deal of power or armspeed any more (if I ever did), the overstable qualities of the Ascent don’t translate to a disc that immediately cuts to the hyzer side, depriving me of distance in a relatively straight line. It has nice carry for such a stable disc.

Another fairway driver quality of the Ascent is related to the rubber from which it’s made. The disc Vibram sent me to review is made from their medium-range X-Link compound (not firm, not soft, but juuuuust right. Just like baby bear and Goldlocks prefer!) It’s not floppy by any means, but grippier than anything but the floppiest plastic putters. I’ve noticed that my Ascent will skip some – when it should – but it comes to rest pretty quickly. This quality has comes in handy on long holes when I’ve had 300-plus feet to the basket on a second shot from the fairway, like certain holes at Pinto Lake.

I may be getting away from the Ascent review and back to a discussion of Vibram’s X-Link rubber compound, but here’s an interesting tidbit that Vibram’s Steve Dodge shared with me to wrap it up for now. You can throw an Ascent your hardest at a brick wall 10, 20, 50 times, until it’s dented and warped to the point of uselessness, then put it in the microwave for two minutes and it comes out good as new! I’d try it myself, but I need to save my arm for throws that count. Plus, I’ve grown attached to my one and only Ascent!

Check back soon for reviews of the Summit, Ridge, and VP putters.