Category Archives: Product Reviews

Feeling the friction

Sometimes you see a product out on the disc golf course and you ask yourself, does that really do anything? When I first saw a Flight Towel I was skeptical, although once I discovered I could get one for a left handed thrower made from a Kahu disc from RPM, I’ll admit I jumped on it (and it does work as advertised for warming up and drying one’s disc).

I had the same reaction when I first heard of Friction Disc Golf Gloves. Originally created for Ultimate players, gloves made sense. The added grip for throws in the rain, the stickiness to maximize catches in the wet, the padding to cushion impact from those hard hucks, even the added warmth on cold game days all made sense to me in the context of a deep rimmed ultimate disc. But on a shallow rimmed disc golf disc? Wouldn’t the glove catch the rim awkwardly? Don’t we need the touch and feel of the plastic to help control our drives and putts?

I first saw one of the gloves in use at the 2019 WFDF World Team Disc Golf Championships in Estonia. Carter Ahrens, at the time a 12-year-old phenom on Team USA, was sporting the gloves. Even at 12, it was apparent Carter would be a force to be reckoned with in disc golf (he’s now playing pro–at age 14 folks–with a 975 player rating!).

Carter Ahrens at the 2019 WFDF World Team Disc Golf Championships

A few months after this event, I saw a post on Facebook about Carter being sponsored by Friction Gloves, so I purchased my first pair of gloves in support.

When I first tried them out, I immediately felt the benefits. I was able to get more snap and a tighter grip on the disc, but I still wasn’t sold as it felt awkward holding the discs. I also felt like I needed to keep putting them on to drive and taking them off to putt, which was cumbersome to manage. That said, the added control felt good so I decided to give the gloves a two week trial.

Almost two years later, I have to admit I’m hooked. As I noted, the added grip strength gave me a lot more reliability on my drives (discs weren’t slipping out on hard throws, for example). I also found it was easier to control my lines, particularly on anhyzer shots, where discs have a tendency to slip out early. What really sold me on the gloves, however, was their affect on my fan grip shots.

For years my friends had been telling me to throw more long midrange and putter shots. For anything 200 feet and up I was throwing drivers because I found I couldn’t control midranges with a power grip (talk about some impressive cling-ons!), and my putting grip couldn’t get me any distance. Trying a fan grip was uncomfortable as the disc tended to scrape out of my hand when gripping it tightly. With the Friction Glove on, however, using a fan grip was quite comfortable and the added stickiness from the glove’s contact surface across the bottom plate of the disc and my thumb pad on the top allowed me to get excellent snap and power on my throws. My fan grip midrange throws now fly accurately up to and beyond 300 feet.

Field work throw. Piwakawaka wearing a Friction Glove using a fan grip

I also committed to keeping the glove on at all times, rather than take it off for putting. I found after a couple of weeks of regular use, I was putting as well (or better) with the glove on as I had without a glove.

Over the past year, a lot of players have asked me about the glove and I’ll quickly answer a few common questions here:

Me, my Tui, and my Friction Glove
  • Does it help in the rain?
    • Sort of… It does give a better grip, and it helps keep my hand warmer when the disc is damp. That said, it is harder to feel how wet everything actually is, and there are times I end up using a wet towel to dry my wet disc and throw with my wet glove. Bottom line, you still need to keep your equipment as dry as possible.
  • Why wear it all the time?
    • I wear it all the time for both convenience and consistency. It’s easier and more comfortable to keep it on, and I do get value from the added grip on all my throws.
  • Isn’t it hot in the summer?
    • Not at all. The summer gloves have a breathable mesh backing that keeps my hand cool and dry.
  • Does it keep you warm in the winter?
    • Not really. See comment above. That said, Friction does make a winter glove (Friction Warms). I’ve used them in the snow and it was really helpful, however they are bulky, so for competitive tournament rounds I stick with the normal glove.
  • Can I have your right hand glove since you don’t need it? 😁
    • This is the best part! Friction Gloves are sold as a pair or singly, so I just buy the lefty gloves.
  • How well do they hold up?
    • You get a good idea of how hard disc golf is on your hands by watching the wear and tear on the gloves. I play 2-3 days a week (so think 160-320 throws every week, 8,300 – 16,600 throws a year) plus fieldwork and putting practice) and seem to go through three or four gloves in a season (disc golf having two seasons, warm and cold). That said, I’ve only ever used one glove down to the state where I felt is was best to throw it out and I usually have three or four going at any one time (as I misplace them or change bags, etc.). Mostly I rotate through whichever glove is handy, so it’s hard to really keep track.
  • Will you ever go back to throwing bear handed?
    • Nope!

One final note–at a recent tournament a friend asked if I thought they would be helpful in supporting someone with a weak grip. As we age (I’m playing grandmasters remember) we may develop arthritis or other age-related physical challenges that weaken our grip strength. I allowed as how I imagined they would and he now plans to try them out. I hadn’t considered the gloves from that perspective, but I do think they would be helpful. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

It’s catching what you’re throwing

If you’re serious about improving your game, putting practice is a core part of your training regimen. There are apps for practice, games for practice (think 21 or horse), and a ton of advice on YouTube and other web sites. Like any practice routine however, the closer it is to “game” experience, the better.

I’ve practiced on the SkillShot umbrella-type collapsable basket, the tortuous Marksman target and more recently the DiscCatcher Sport. Each of these has their benefits: the SkillShot is inexpensive and portable, folding up into a carry-all bag; the Marksman forces a very straight putting line (which some players feel is critical); and the DiscCatcher Sport mimics a competition basket to maximize the practice experience.

That said, each of these baskets also comes with real drawbacks: the SkillShot doesn’t catch like a real basket, so in many cases you end up practicing a putt that may not actually fit the playing course; the Marksman–well, see previous comment and amplify; and the DiscCatcher Sport, while closest to true, still tends to under-perform compared to a course-quality basket. With a single set of chains and a body made for lightness and portability, the Sport lets a lot of good putts slip through the chain and you can get some strange bounce- and spit- outs.

In my search for a quality basket for putting practice, I recently bought an RPM DiscMate basket to try it out (as an RPM Ambassador I get a discount on RPM merchandise and that gives me an excuse to play with such fun new toys). Spoiler alert: this is will be last practice basket I’ll ever buy.

The DiscMate is a portable practice basket that accurately mimics putting play on a permanent course install. The basket is built with fully welded steel zinc and powder coated hanger and basket, with two layers of chains to catch your putts, similar to most permanent basket installs. Despite the heavy-duty build, the basket quickly breaks down: chains, footing, and polls sitting sweetly in the basket tray, making the whole set easily portable for one person (into a roughly 25″ x 25″ x 10″ tall box).

Built out, I’ve been putting on the basket now for about three months and can’t detect any difference in outcome in catching compared to the baskets at my local course (Mundy Park in Coquitlam, BC). The two sets of chain virtually eliminate the splash throughs common to the other baskets and the professional weight chain gives an accurate catch. While three months is a short time for any feedback on durability, I’ve had no issues with the construction–chains, basket, and all parts are solid, in place, and working well.

If you take the sport seriously (or want to), I’d avoid going the entry-level portable basket route (likely to turn into two or three baskets over time) and go straight to a professional class portable basket. In the long run it will serve you better in both skill development and durability. Although the initial cost is likely to be slightly higher (the RPM DiscMate is priced at about $300 Canadian; $230 US), a professional quality basket will also hold its resale value over time. My only complaint is that I didn’t buy this basket sooner. 🙂

Perfect Putt 360

The premise behind the ap is that you practice your putt at increasing distances, to the magical 30ft (although it should be 33ft in truth, or 10 meters). You earn one point per putt made (double that at 30 feet) plus bonus points if you make your first, last, or all ten putts from 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 feet. The points system adds tournament-like stress to your putts (I have to make this one to get the bonus points!). A full round means you’ve thrown 100 putts, and a perfect score is 360 points. Do this daily, and I’m guessing (hoping) my putting will improve, in skill and under pressure.

The one draw back? The app doesn’t keep a running list of your scores, so you can’t easily monitor your progress. It is also only available on the iPhone (or so I hear), for a reasonably small fee. Still, a great ap!


Playing with a Nutsac*

*Read at your own risk

OK, full disclosure–I’ve had a Nutsac for years, so this is nothing new to me. Though they come in many colors (I’ve seen pink, black, blue and even green Nutsacs), and sizes (there are some large Nutsacs out there!), my Nutsac is small and brown.

While I play with it regularly, because of its small size I don’t actually use it that often (even the largest Nutsacs I’ve seen are pretty small). Consequently, I see it as most useful for travel, as you can throw your Nutsac over your shoulder (you wouldn’t want to drag it on the ground), or tuck it into your trunk and head out on your adventures minimally encumbered.

When I do play with my Nutsac, though, it can really turn heads. Last year (2013) I pulled my Nutsac out at a tournament in Virginia and a guy I met (Hawk) insisted that I let him take a picture of it so he could post it online. He then showed me his Nutsac, which was larger than mine, and added that he played with his Nutsac all the time. In point of fact, he mentioned that he was even sponsored to play with his Nutsac and blogs about it whenever he does. When I checked out his Nutsac online (at, I discovered that he is jokingly known as “the worst sponsored player in disc golf.” [editors note: which may be why the blog no longer exists].

And that is probably the best thing about Nutsacs–it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you’re walking around the disc golf course with a Nutsac hanging from your shoulder.

For the uninitiated who have made it this far, a Nutsac is a bag for carrying disc golf discs, and this is a true story and honest-to-goodness product review. As highlighted above, the Nutsac is a no-frills bag that is built to wrap around discs with no extra pockets (other than a mini pocket on the front). The small bag will comfortably hold just three drivers, two midranges and a putter (you can buy a drink holder as an add on). This lack of space makes them impractical as a tournament bag (in addition to 15 discs my tournament bag contains beverages, rule books, pencils, back up discs and minis, an umbrella, change holders, first aid kit, and who knows what else), but great as a travel bag when on the road for work or visiting family.

I can pack my Nutsac bag, with discs, in my suitcase, taking up about as much room as a pair of shoes. I also keep it in my jeep–which has been broken into before. While I would hate to lose my tournament bag and discs (again!), the Nutsac with six discs would be a tolerable loss in exchange for the flexibility of always having discs on hand. For its size, the bag is priced at the higher end ($40 for the small bag, $70 for the large), but for the convenience and cool quirkiness it offers, it’s a good bag to own. As I hope you can tell from this review, personally, I am quite attached to my Nutsac.