2014 U.S. National Kubb Championship

Recently, a few friends and I took a road trip to Eau Claire, Wis. for the 2014 U.S. National Kubb Championship. For those of you unfamiliar with the game of kubb, I recommend checking out the Wikipedia page and the video below.

Basically, kubb is a yard game that involves tossing wooden batons at wooden blocks, called kubbs. My friends and I have played for nearly two years now (but probably playing by the real rules for closer to a year).

The team

My friend Jesse started researching the game and came across a number of tournaments and groups in the United States. The biggest tournament being the national championship in Eau Claire. Jesse made the decision that he was going to check it out, even if that meant going by himself and just observing. Being the great friends we are, Joey, Al and myself decided to tag along and together we formed The Settlers of Baton.

Once our team name was picked (combining both one of our favorite board games with one of our favorite yard games), it was time for a logo and shirts. I took major inspiration from The Settlers of Caton. I replaced the horizontal rule in their logo with a baton you would toss in kubb. For the back of the shirt I did a sunset, which is repeated in various Settlers materials. I then added our team motto, “Wood for wood?” This is a play on the common “Wood for sheep?” question associated with the board game. Since kubb is pretty much trading blocks of wood back and forth, it seemed to really work well.

A mockup of The Settlers of Baton t-shirts.

The shirts and team name were a big hit. We received many compliments and “oh I love that game!” shout outs all weekend long.

After about a seven and a half hour drive from Kalamazoo, Mich. we finally arrived in Eau Claire, Wis. We checked into our motel and headed over to the soccer fields where the tournament was to be held the following morning. There was a decent crowd of people who brought their own kubb sets to get a bit of last-minute practice. We set up a set of our own and joined in on the fun.

On Saturday morning, we woke up early, downed a few waffles and headed back to the soccer fields. It was finally here, the big day. We set our expectations low, vowing to have a great time no matter what the outcome.

Group play

We started our group play with Team Norway. It was a best of three match, and despite some good competition, we took it in two games. Team Norway were a great bunch and we had a wonderful time playing them.

A photo of The Settlers of Baton with Team Norway at the 2014 U.S. National Kubb Championship.

Group play continued with La Kubba Nostra, a match that went to three games and actually was called for time. We didn’t finish that third game and the tie-breaker was remaining kubbs on the back line. We ended up losing that, and therefore the match. The last group match was against Kubbarb Pie. That match took three games, but we pulled off a win. That meant we tied for first in our group with La Kubba Nostra. Since they had won our earlier match tie-breaker, they also won the group tie-breaker. This left us a number two seed in the tournament bracket.

Championship bracket

Our first match-up was against the Barrakubbas. This team was made up of people from the Virginia and Washington D.C. area. They made our seven and a half hour journey seem rather short. They were again a friendly team and a pleasure to play with. We took the match 2-0.

As with most brackets, each level increases the level of competition, and our next round was no different. We took the first game, but struggled in the second. The third game looked like we were cooked, but we made a nice comeback and stayed with it to the end, finally defeating them 2-1.

Now we hit the round of 32 and were matched with Kubb’d. This was a team we had read about and seen online. It was a cool feeling to play a team like that. Kubb’d wouldn’t make this easy. We held our own and brought them to a third game. We had knocked down all the field kubbs and only had one back-row kubb and the king remaining. Joey had two batons in hand. He tossed one at the back row and it made contact… but wobbled… and didn’t go down. He throws the next one and it falls. We lost our shot at ending the game, but by now we’ve drawn a bit of a crowd. Our game had all 10 kubbs in play.


In the end, Kubb’d and their spectacular grouping finally defeated us. It was an epic match and despite losing, we felt like winners. We truly felt that last game could go either way.


After that, we became spectators. We watched the last round of the day and then were ready to watch the finals on Sunday.


Sunday started with the quarter-finals. There was a great turn-out crowded around the four kubb pitches. After some hard-fought battles the field narrowed to four. We intently watched these matches, trying to take away any tips and tricks we could.

By the time the championship match got underway, you could really tell you were watching the cream of the crop. Kubbsicles and Knockerheads were doing almost everything right. They were inspirational to watch and put on a great show for the crowd. It was a really exciting match, all the way to the end when the Kockerheads last shot made contact with the king and it didn’t look as if it was going to fall for a moment. I caught it on video.

The coolest part of the tournament was that while everyone wanted to win, everyone cheered for a great shot or a beautiful grouping. There was always a sense of fun and sportsmanship you don’t find in many competitions these days. I can’t wait for next year. Settlers of Baton is already developing a practice routine so we’ll be in tip-top shape for 2015. Thanks for the wonderful experience, USA Kubb!

If you’re interested, I posted some photos on Facebook from the event. You can also follow The Settlers of Baton and Kalamazoo Kubb on Twitter to keep up with all the kubb happenings in the Zoo.

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.

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.