(Full Disclosure: I’ve always wanted to write something where I needed to provide a full disclosure. Also, one of the guys that writes on this blog (Evan) is the person who put on the Raleigh Ace Race. This means that if I liked him I might write something biased in his favor regarding the event. But if you’re concerned about the objectivity of a post on a disc golf blog, you are probably the person who Tweets insults at professional athletes after a bad performance helps you to lose a fantasy matchup. If you are one of these people you should get your life priorities straight and come back later.)
Ace Race is an event put on by Discraft across the country every year. The basic premise is in the name: get the most aces. The basic rundown goes as follows: A local group/person signs up to run an Ace Race. He/she/they collect $25 entry fees from local players. They send money to Discraft who provides two prototype discs per player for the event. The person/people running the event setup a local course to have shorter holes as necessary. Everybody shows up to the event, plays two rounds, counting their aces. Most aces wins.
Phew, that was boring. But you get the idea now, context is important.
The Raleigh Ace Race was held at Kentwood. It is an obvious choice for the area since almost all of the holes are under 250 feet. But nobody wants to play the same course setup they have played dozens of times, so the event was set up a little differently. Most of the holes didn’t use the normal tee pads, but rather alternate tees. This gave the chance for some very unique shots on a course most of the local players know by heart. There were also a few alternate baskets fit into the normal course along with a hole on a baseball field and one on tennis courts. Each round had a different setup achieved with some combination of different tees, different mandos or different pin placements. Here’s the video Evan put together from the Ace Race http://youtu.be/XaRA3yoPl2I
Okay, I think everybody now has a clear picture of what this event was all about. Now onto the important stuff…
How Was the New Disc?
Discraft uses these events to test one prototype each year. Last year, for example, they used what would become the Zombee. This year they went with a fairway driver. You have to use these discs and only these discs for the event.
There are two angles here. One is that they used a fairway driver for an Ace Race which is pretty counterintuitive. The other is how the disc flew when thrown as a fairway driver would normally be thrown.
Regarding the first topic, it was weird trying to make throws using a fairway driver when you would usually pull out a putter or mid-range, but this really wasn’t a big deal to me. There likely would have been more aces had they provide a mid-range or putter, but everybody has the same equipment so not a big deal. The people who did well were the ones who adjusted and found a way to control the thing at a short distance. I was not one of those people.
The more important thing is how the disc flew when thrown as it was designed to be thrown. The best evidence for this was the throw-off at the end of the event. Participants threw from a makeshift tee pad on a sidewalk across a couple of holes to a basket which Google Earth tells me is about 275-290 feet away. The throw was slightly downhill and required a right to left flight. This meant mostly full-force RHBH with a few LHFH thrown in.
The surprising results of this, to me anyway, were that the disc held its line really well for most of the flight. I guess you would expect that from a fairway driver, but trying to guide the thing around 130’ holes all morning you start thinking this is an incredibly overstable disc, but once you put some power behind it, it holds well. The dive at the end is also less severe than I would have expected. The people who played it well out to the right (there was plenty of room for this) didn’t get as much dive as they had hoped and ended up short. There was even extra dive considering the downhill.
The LHFH actually put on a pretty good show during this throw-off. I only point this out because I was one of them and this was my best throw all day, I don’t like bragging but I did hold the lead for about two throws, that’s a pretty big deal. The winner was the guy who threw it long enough to get around a couple of trees which protected the basket, his disc skipped up nicely to under ten feet, not bad at all.
I threw the discs again the next day, but it was at the same course. Even with normal tees, the holes are short. So I didn’t get much extra experience with it, I plan on trying it out on some longer throws soon.
Is there room for this disc in Discraft’s production line? I have no idea. I liked it, but reactions were mixed from what I heard on the course. Maybe some of that was due to trying to throw the driver on < 200’ holes? I don’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of discs that some of our other contributors do, but I hear this disc isn’t necessarily a unique one compared to what is currently on the market. Time will tell whether or not Discraft moves forward to production. I liked it, but I wouldn’t necessarily run out to buy the first run to replace my Star TL.
Would I Do it Again?
Yes. Very fun event, it only takes a few hours to complete (compared to about 10 hours the last two round PDGA event I took part in) and provides a unique experience playings a very familiar course in a whole new way.
The prizes were great for such a grassroot event. Discraft sends a sweet bag with nine (if I remember correctly) discs, a very nice takeaway for the winner. Local groups, businesses, and individuals donated enough to provide over 18 CTP awards, a nice second place prize and a brand new fish tank to the guy who parked the post-round throw-off. Just by showing up you got your money’s worth with the two Ti discs and assortment of Discraft swag they sent your way, add in the high volume of prizes for winning and the pure fun of the event and it’s a no brainer.
How Would I Improve It?
Now the gloves come off…
Actually, I think it was well run. I’m sure Evan learned some things this year and if he decides to do it again he might do some differently, but I’m honestly not sure what those would be. The biggest complaint I have is that Discraft provided a driver for an Ace Race, but I guess they can’t run out a new mid-range every year.
Oh, he could provide free breakfast and lunch to all competitors, that would be an improvement. Bojangles and Chipotle, respectively, would do just fine.