Building a disc golf trophy


As I previously mentioned, my buddies and I started a tradition of holding a little disc golf tournament on Independence Day. This, the second year, we decided it would be pretty cool to start the tradition of a traveling trophy. Something that could pass from winner to winner each year.

I got together with one of my handy friends, Lee, and set off to build an epic disc golf trophy. We both envisioned something huge. Something so large you could hold it over your head like the Stanley Cup. Something very disc golf, like a functional mini basket. But it needed to be big. Since the competition is always on the Fourth of July, we opted to make it extremely patriotic too. We were going for something that would make a statement. It needed to get the reaction of “you’re not putting that in the living room” from your wife. That’s what we were setting out to do and I’m pretty sure we succeeded. Here’s the process of building an epic disc golf trophy.

IMG_1261To start we were considering various materials. Since we wanted it to be durable and last for years, it had to be something sturdy. We wanted to be able to pick up the trophy in celebration. We ended up with a combination of wood and metal pipe.

We started with cutting out some circles. We figured one for the top and bottom of the basket would work well. We’d secure them together with a small metal pipe. We bought some chain, trimmed it to size and hooked it into the top of the basket with eye hooks and wire. The bottom of the chains were attached to a metal ring that fit around the pipe. The final piece of the basket, was some cut-to-size chicken wire fencing. We stapled it on after paint.

For the base pole, we used a larger pipe so the basket could stand on top of the trophy base. To make sure it was a really sturdy trophy, we attached the pipe all the way through the box used as the base.

As we started building, the trophy grew bigger than we even intended. It was getting big so instead of a couple, stepped boxes on the base we stuck to just one. The big box was meant to give a sturdy base and allow for a place to add each year’s winner on an engraved plate.

We got the trophy built, sanded down and then came time for paint. Like I mentioned, we thought tying in a patriotic theme would work well for an annual Fourth of July tournament. I thought a blue base, with stars and a striped red and white top would be perfect.

IMG_1427To start we sprayed the entire thing with primer and then a coat of white paint. After that dried, I placed on some star stickers I cut out on a friend’s Cricut. Then I painted over those stars with blue, let them dry overnight and then peeled of the stickers. This left perfectly sharp looking white stars. The stripes were a similar process, but with painters tape to create sharp lines. We left the silver of the metal pipes and chains for a little shimmer and contrast.


The whole thing really came together and it looks amazing. I’m so happy I won it this year. I have it in my office, and now I can appreciate it each and every day. Did I mention it is a functional mini basket too?

Mini disc golf with trophy

What do you think? Have you ever tackled creating a trophy of your own?

2013 Economy Open

Last year my friends and I established the “Economy Open.” This was to be a disc golf tournament held on the Fourth of July on the school grounds of an elementary right behind the house of our friends, Mike and Katie Economy (hence the name). The first year was very simple, using poles, trees and similar fixtures all around the school. It was a blast, but our options for challenging and creative holes was fairly limited.

2013 Economy Open ParticipantsThe event has now become an annual staple of our Independence Day get-together. The 2013 tournament was a major upgrade. This year we had two portable Innova Skillshots so we could place our holes wherever we wanted. This lead to many interesting shots with a lot of variety in both length and skill. We used some mandos and “water hazards” (sections of rock or fenced in areas). It really turned out to be quite the course.

IMG_3995IMG_4002The competition was actually very close. Three or four of us were in it until almost the end. In fact, the difference between first and second place was only a stroke. The full results are posted on Disc Golf Scene.

Despite a couple of penalty strokes due to our “water” hazards and one beautiful 150 foot birdie shot that just splashed right out of the basket, I had a really strong round. So strong in fact, I beat my little brother. That was my main goal of the day, but I surpassed that and actually won the tournament too. It felt great to walk away the champ.

Winner, Christopher Jones holds the trophy from the 2013 Economy Open disc golf tournament.The best part of winning? The fancy new trophy. My buddy, Lee, and I built this thing from scratch. We gave it a patriot look and created a base where each year’s winner will be added. I documented the whole trophy making experience, so check back for that story soon.

I’m looking forward to next year’s tourney. Everyone playing seems to be getting better and better, so the competition will be fierce. I hope I can defend my title, because this trophy is way to cool to have to hand over to someone else.

Vibram Birdie Bash

Vibram Trak and Sole from the Birdie Bash.As you may have noticed, disc golf has become a passion of mine. Ever since I threw that first disc about a year ago, I haven’t been able to quench my thirst for rattling the chains. I was extremely excited to hear my favorite disc company, Vibram, was holding their own take on a tournament this year called a Birdie Bash. There was an event set in Kalamazoo and I knew I had to be there.

It was called a Birdie Bash and the format was very unique. Each event consists of two rounds of 18 holes. You would get five points for an ace, two for a birdie and one for hitting metal. The catch being, you only throw a max of two throws per hole. It’s sort of a new take on Discraft’s annual Ace Race. You were given two Vibram discs of your choice (one putter and one driver or mid-range) and you were required to use only those discs for the tournament.

The discs I chose were a Trak (which was my first Vibram disc and needed a replacement) and a Sole (the only disc in the Vibram lineup I didn’t have). For the course we played, Knollwood Park, the Trak wasn’t of much use. I mostly tossed the Sole. After I learned the discs a bit I started to put up a few points, mostly the result of metal hits. My first round ended with a somewhat disappointing final score of four (two metals, one birdie). The second round I slightly improved to two birdies and two metals. Overall, I felt I could have done a lot better, but I had a wonderful time regardless of my score. The discs and t-shirt were well worth the entry fee. I hope Vibram makes the Birdie Bash an annual event because I can’t wait to do it again.

Making Friends on the Disc Golf Course

I’ve been very lucky in my relatively short time disc golfing. I always seem to find someone willing to shoot a round with me. Recently, I had the day off work, the sun was shiny brightly and all of my discing buddies were unavailable. I didn’t want to let a perfectly good spring day go to waste, so I decided it was time for my first solo round.

I grabbed my bag and headed over to an easy-but-fun local course. It was, as expected, moderately busy on this beautiful day. I walked up the first tee about the same time as an older gentleman. Still needing to stretch a little, I offered to let him shoot first. He inquired if I was playing alone, and if so, if I’d like to join him. I’m usually a pretty reserved, some might say shy person, but he seemed friendly enough so I replied, “sure, why not.”

My first solo round turned into my first round with a random stranger. It ended up being great. I had a solid round with many great shots (including with my rediscovered 2011 Ace Race disc and my brand new Prodigy D4). My round buddy for the day, Tom, turned out to be a really nice fellow. He wasn’t a super star disc golfer, but not a newbie either. We talked about our disc buying obsession, and how to best hide your new discs from your wife. He gave me a few tips he had picked up on throwing styles, and I shared some of my acquired knowledge. The round seemed to go by so quickly, I barely had time to over-think my shots. I’m not sure if it was the casual conversation or the lack of competitiveness (which is often present with my regular buddies), but it was one of my best rounds recently.

I set out to have a simple round by myself, but ended up having an even better round with someone I just met. I had a great time, Tom, and hope to see you on the course again soon. Meeting new people is a little out of my comfort zone, but this experience makes me want to give it a try again. I encourage every disc golfer to take a chance and play with someone new. Even if it doesn’t end in a new friend, at least you got to play disc golf.

It’s Spring and time to Fling [Discs]

Number sixteen basket at Air Zoo Disc Golf Course.The blogging has taken a back seat the last couple weeks because we are finally emerging from another long, cold and dreary Michigan winter. I’m happy to report the season of snow discing is over. It’s now time for good old fashioned, warm-weather disc golf, and I couldn’t be happier. I haven’t forgotten about you, blog, and I promise I’ll return to normally posting soon.

Disc Golf, Snow Style

As you may have already read, I discovered disc golf this year. Over the summer I was playing as much as possible. I got pretty bummed when the days became shorter and the weekends were the only times to play. That didn’t stop me from playing, even if the weather was cold, I’d be out there throwing some discs.

Enter the snow… I hate the snow. Every year it seems summer is just long enough to make me forget how much I hate the cold, snowy winters of Michigan. I don’t ski, I don’t snowboard and I’m completely over sledding. Frankly, if I never saw snow again it wouldn’t break my heart. So it was a bit of a surprise to me that I’d enjoy playing disc golf in the snow so much.

Sure it’s cold. Sure that effects the flight of my discs. Sure you have to be bundled up and sure it’s almost impossible to throw a disc properly with a glove. All those things are true but for the first time I’ve found a reason to go out in the snow. My love of disc golf is so deep that not even a foot of snow can stop me.

My brother playing snow disc golf.

Here are a few tips I’ve figured out to make snow disc golfing a little more enjoyable:

  • Wear warm clothes. This almost goes without saying but it can get mighty cold out there and it’s important to stay warm. I recently bought Smartwool shirt that keeps me nice and cozy without a lot of bulk. That coupled with a sweatshirt (and fleece jacket on really frigid days) usually does the trick. I highly recommend Smartwool socks too. I haven’t found any other socks that work as well. Gloves are a must, but I’ll admit I throw bare handed and just use the glove between throws.
  • Proper footwear is key. It’s snow and your old tennis shoes (or Vibram FiveFingers as is the case for me) just aren’t going to work. I hate wearing non-barefoot shoes but if there’s snow on the ground, some waterproof boots with a decent grip are necessary. Even with the right boots it still can be pretty slippery (I just took a huge spill while teeing off. Let the double size of my knee cap and elbow be a cautionary tale).
  • Your discs will be exaggerated. I read this somewhere but didn’t really understand until I started playing in the cold. Everything your disc normally does, it does even more in the cold. There’s not a lot of resistance in the air so those discs with a little turn in the summer will probably have a big turn in the winter. Same for fade and you can probably sneak a little more glide out of your discs too.
  • Have a buddy spot your shots. All that snow will cover your disc like nobody’s business. Even the brightest discs are hard to find under a few inches of snow. Pay lots of attention to where your shots land because they normally don’t sit on top of the snow. Sometimes the best tool is your foot for sweeping back and forth in the area you thought it landed. If you’re lucky, your disc will leave some sort of trail going into the snow. I’ve heard attaching ribbons to your discs is another trick (the idea being the ribbons will stick further out of the snow).
  • Plan for a longer round. The extra time it takes to traipse through the snow, especially when looking for your disc will add a fair amount of time to your overall game. A round that might have taken an hour in the summer could easily be double that in the snow.

Those are just a few things I’ve noticed while playing this winter. If you’re a disc golf junkie, don’t be afraid to give a snow round a chance. It’s still disc golf after all, just colder and wetter.

Discraft Ace Race

Hot on the heals of my first disc golf tournament, I played in my first ace race on Sunday. The Discraft Ace Race is a competition where players receive two new prototype discs and then use those discs to throw aces. It sounds easy; it’s not.

The discs are the same but you can kind of pick your colors and weight (or trade with others to get what you want). The event I attended at Irving Park had 27 holes set up. Most of them were on the original 24 holes of the course but with modified tee areas. The tees were designed to be more easily ace-able.

The rules were simple. One throw per hole, two rounds. You get an “A” on your score card for an ace (hole in one) or an “M” for hitting any metal of the basket but not staying in it. At the end of the day the person with the most aces would be crowned champion. If there was a tie, the person with most “metals” would triumph.

It sounded really easy but turned out to be an extremely hard task. Just throwing a disc you don’t know is hard, trying to throw that disc and hit a specific target is even harder. I managed to get myself two metal hits and about five legitimate close calls for aces. At the end of the day I didn’t win (or even get an ace) but I had a great time. The player pack was packed full of cool items and I’m now the owner of two discs you can’t buy anywhere yet. I’m really excited to throw at next year’s ace race, and hopefully get an actual ace.

Here’s a video from the event…

My First Disc Golf Tournament

A few days ago I happened to stumble upon a disc golf tournament happening this past Saturday. It was a fundraiser for Gryphon Place and took place at one of my favorite courses, Oshtemo Township Park. The Gryphon Place Toss Across sounded like it would be a chill and low key kind of tournament, which would make it the perfect first experience for someone like me. My brother and I decided we’d sign up and give it a shot. We didn’t expect to be great competitors or anything but it was for a good cause and we picked up a disc and some other random swag for doing it plus we were probably going to play a round that day anyway. I was also curious how I’d do under the pressure of a tournament, even if it was an easier and unsanctioned one.

Turns out I handled the pressure just fine. Although I thought I had totally screwed up in my last 6 holes or so, I ended up with my best round ever at Oshtemo (a +11). I figured that’d put me in the top five, which I would be quite happy with. Then it was time for the official results to be put up and much to my surprise, I had clinched first place in my division. I was standing there in disbelief when I realized my little brother pulled off a third place finish with his best round at Oshtemo too. We were sitting pretty on the leaderboard. The first two places received trophies and I was rather happy and shocked to get mine. It was a great experience and a lot of fun. I can’t wait to play another tournament.

After the trophies were handed out they raffled off some prizes. My little brother won a really nice four-person tent, a big disc bag with shoulder straps and a Mophie battery backup iPhone case. I may have come in first place but my brother definitely won that day.

Foursquare Tips: Lists

When foursquare announced lists a while back I got really excited. It seemed like such a cool way to build up a collection of hot spots. A few days later I all but forgot you could make them. The problem was, I just didn’t have a need. Around my town there’s about a dozen lists for “Best Mexican Restaurants” that all have the same 5 or so places. Why do I need to make yet another list of the same old spots.

Then foursquare launched the #VisitUS challenge. It was a really cool contest that would award a few cities badges based on user-sourced “best of” lists. About Foursquare has a good write-up on it. That’s when I created my first useful list. I collaborated with a friend and we gave Kalamazoo a city guide, foursquare style. Kalamazoo didn’t end up winning a badge but it was a great exercise in creating lists.

Fast forward a few months and I actually pulled up that list again and shared with a couple of friends who were in town for my wedding. They had never been to the area and wanted to know where to go for food and fun. The list was perfect, it was already created, offered and easy way to share the info and gave them directions to and info about each place on it.

This re-ignited my passion for foursquare lists and I set out to make another. This time I planned to make a list of disc golf courses in Michigan (yes, disc golf is an obsession). It was mainly for my benefit. I liked the idea of exploring the state and playing disc golf along the way. I used review websites to compile nearby courses I was interested in playing and then found them on foursquare so I could add them to my list. It’s quickly grown from a small list of nearby courses to a giant list of courses all over Michigan.

the "save" button menu on

Making lists are easy. Adding new places to your list are even easier. Here’s a quick how-to so you can start creating your own lists. When you come across a venue you’d like to add to your list, just click the “Save” button. A menu will pop up listing your current lists (and a “Create a new list…” option if you don’t have any). Just select the list you want it saved to and you’re all set. You can do this on the website (see screenshot) or in the mobile app. It’s the same basic procedure either way.

If you’re creating a brand new list, a dialog pops up for you to add a name to your list. Don’t worry, you can always change it later.dialog for creating a new list on

Editing your lists is easy too. Just navigate to your list on the website (pull down menu under your name > lists) and then hit the big orange “Edit” button. You can then put the venues in a certain order, add tips or photos and remove venues. Near the top of the list you can edit the name and description of your list and use the search box to add more venues. When you’re all set just click “Finished Editing.” Be sure to share your list when you are done.

a list in edit mode on

Do you make a lot of foursquare lists? Maybe you just like to follow them. What lists are your favorite?


Disc Golf Course Review Quick Search [Updated]

I’m constantly looking for new disc golf courses to play. That means I’m visiting Disc Golf Course Review all the time. It’s a great site with a wealth of information. The only problem I run into is that it’s not a very mobile friendly site. This means when I’m on the go and want to search for a course, it’s a very clunky process. I decided there was an easier way and set off to create it.

I’m happy to introduce my one-page, mobile-friendly, mini-site for searching DG Course Review. It’s nothing fancy, in fact it only does one thing, but it does that well. You enter a course name or zip (or both) and press the button to search. You’ll be redirected to the DG Course Review site results page. It only took a few lines of javascript to capture the user input and then build out the URL.

Screen shot of DG Course Review Quick Search in Mobile Safari

I really like these simple projects. They’re very gratifying to be able to fill a need with such an easy solution. I think the whole site took me about 15 minutes to complete and I’m sure I’ll use it over and over again. I welcome you to give it a shot too. Eventually I’ll add in other search options offered on DG Course Review but the two there now are what I use most.

**Update July 18, 2012**
Turns out there is a mobile version of DG Course Review. I stumbled upon it in the forums. You have to navigate specifically to it (there’s no device/resolution detection to redirect you) but it is pretty handy.