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.

The hardest flight path to achieve in disc golf, when using a backhanded throw, is the one that flies long and straight, then turns over at the end. Players that don’t have the required distance to simply attack these situations with a sidearm (like me) usually solve this challenge by throwing a very understable disc with varying degrees of hyzer, knowing the speed of the throw will overcome the hyzer angle at some point and force the disc to turn over. Accomplished players can dictate the point at which the disc will flip by adjusting the speed, angle, and height of the throw, hopefully getting the disc to turn in the direction they want much further down the fairway than can be achieved with a shot that has an anhyzer flight path from the beginning. But this approach, of course, is fraught with risks and limitations. Among them:

  • the player may misjudge any number of factors in and out of their control – including wind – causing the disc to never come out of its hyzer path
  • the size and shape of the fairway (too narrow, low ceiling) may not allow for the multiple turns required to get the disc to turn over at the right place and time
  • discs that turn over too much tend to land on an edge, and discs that land on an edge tend to roll

For me, Vibram’s Trak gives me a better option in such situations, which is why it now has a permanent place in my bag. I can make it fly on one long, gradual straight or turnover line, and is less likely to come out of that line at the end of its flight when it loses power, hyzering back. If I throw it too hard and low, it will of course turn over too soon, but even there it has an advantage: the rubber compound from which it is made helps it to bite into the ground, minimizing the damage.

My favorite hole to use an example of this disc’s usefulness to me is hole 18 on the Aptos High School course near DeLaveaga. It’s a slightly downhill hole that also slopes left-to-right with thick trees and brush all along the left side, yet completely wide open on the right side. It’s long enough to require all the power I can muster. For right-handers it’s a no-brain long hyzer shot. But for me it has always presented a formidable challenge. Not only is there OB down below on that right side, where my disc is sure to go if it hyzers out early. The basket is tucked in behind the line of trees that runs the length of the fairway on the left, and if my disc turns over too soon it ends up in those trees. If I get it to start on the right side with a big anhyzer line, but it falls right at the end, it runs into a grove of trees on the right side, below and pin-high with the basket.

My choices were always to play it safe by throwing a low, conservative midrange with a slight bit of turnover, getting most of the way there and setting me up for a routine par, or putting it way out to the right with a driver, and giving it a dramatic turnover angle. The hope here was that it would be just enough angle and power to hold that line the entire way to the basket, but not so much that it would turn over early. It rarely worked with the exact precision required to get all the way to the basket. But using the Trak, I am able to throw a shot that is a cross between these two approaches. My line now does not need to sweep so far on the outside, and definitely doesn’t require such an aggressive angle to hold the line all the way to the basket. I’m able to throw the disc close to the treeline on the left with a flat, straight angle and watch it hold a long, gradual turn all the way to the basket. The birdies are more frequent, and the chances of bogey due to the above-mentioned mistakes much less.

Many discs have been touted to ‘hold any line’, but the Trak is the first I’ve seen to back up the claim. I’m telling you, you gotta try this disc!

More on Aptos and the rest of the Santa Cruz DG scene

Didn’t mention it in the last post, but big props and thanks to Jake and his minions for first getting a course approved at Aptos High School, then making it a reality, and finally for continuing to make improvements to the layout, design and amenities.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that, during a round a DeLa, I said to someone “Just imagine: in about a year we’ll have FOUR courses in Santa Cruz county!” At the time we had DeLa and Black Mouse, but the Mouse was in a state of disrepair with less than 18 holes, and no way for first-time visitors to figure out the layout. Now look at us.

DeLa- What can you say . . . it’s DeLa!

Black Mouse- Although the original layout was better, at least the course is back to 18 holes. Plus, thanks to a great volunteer effort (sometimes it seems like elves come at night and refine paths from hole-to-hole), cement teepads are slowly beginning to increase and small signs help people find the next hole. This course is short, and carved into an extremely wooded and hilly 30 acres. A great contrast to the area’s other courses.

Pinto Lake- The work to get that course installed (both politically and sweat-of-the-brow style) is a great testimony to why Tom Schot is a member of the Disc Golf Hall of Fame. After getting the first nine completely installed, with cement pads, DGA signs, Mach III baskets, and tons of OB markers, the ‘back nine’ is well on the way to being completed as well. Reviews of this course are mixed, but no one can deny that it’s tough score-wise and endurance-wise, that it’s a beautiful bird sanctuary, and that it has the potential to one day become DeLa’s predecessor as a world-class disc golf challenge.

Aptos High School- This course is the perfect compliment to the other three. It’s the best choice for beginners due to its moderate length and openness, but the elevation changes, design, and wind keep it interesting for more accomplished players. It already has cement pads on all 18 holes, and Jake just announced the planned addition of alternate pin positions. Considering the steady progress they’ve achieved there, expect those new positions soon!

First Tournament at Aptos High School DGC


I’m pleased to say that despite rain before, during, and after, the first tourney at Aptos was a success in all ways imaginable. The turnout was great, the whole thing ran smoothly, we started pretty close to on time, lunch was sausage on rolls from Corralitos Market, and the distribution of tags afterward was amazingly fast. Most of all, I was really happy to see how many people paid $40 to play in the rain, with no chance of ‘winning’ anything. It tells me that people understand that the money to pay for courses has to come from somewhere, and also that more and more people feel strongly enough about the benefits of disc golf to also believe that $40 or even $100 here and there is nothing if it means another glorious frisbee playground. To see pictures, click here.

  • I played with a couple Aptos High students in my group, and the father of another student. None of them was particularly prepared for the weather (no umbrellas, for one thing), but not one of them complained even one time. It was the first tournament of any kind for all three of them, and we had a blast.
  • Speaking of weather, my combination of Sealskinz waterproof socks and Solomon watershoes worked perfectly. Having a synthetic shammy and a couple regular towels allowed me to throw pretty dry discs, too.
  • I started off with seven pars, then birdied seven of the last 11 holes to finish -7. It was good enough to get the #1 tag, so I guess I won the tournament, and that means that I’ve played in the inaugural tournaments of two courses (Black Mouse is the other) and won them both. What I remember most about the Black Mouse event, though, is the 20-minute walk with Steady Ed from the parking lot tournament central.
  • One of the kids in my group told us that he owns three snakes (one a seven-foot Python!), and this same kid, right after we finish our last hole and start to head back, nearly steps on a large lizard. But this wasn’t just any lizard- this thing had the longest tail I’ve ever seen!