In August of 2017 I had the honor of representing the United States of America at the 2017 Team Disc Golf World Championships. While there I had the chance to reconnect with friends made the year before when I directed the first Team Disc Golf World Championships in Vancouver, Canada. Most relevant for this post was catching up with Jackson Sullivan of RPM Discs in New Zealand.
Jackson brought a bunch of RPM’s discs to the event and sold them as fundraisers for the (Bronze-Medal-winning) New Zealand team. Having never thrown the discs, I bought four—two drivers, one mid-range, and one putter—solely because of their beauty. The plastic used for the discs was a flexible plastic similar to the Star plastic many players are familiar with, but it’s molded (at least in the discs I bought) in attractive colours and colour mixes, creating a disc that looks good because of (and not in spite of) the plastic. The stamps are also artistically designed with a Māori-artwork look to them to match their names. You can see the full details on the RPM web site: http://www.rpmdiscs.com.
Having finally made it home and pilot tested these discs on a local course I know well, I thought it time to post a couple of reviews. So without further adieu, reviews of the Kahu and Piwakawaka.
[Update: I now throw primarily RPM plastic. My over-stable drivers are a Kahu and Kotare; my fairway driver is a Huia; my approach discs are the Piwakawaka and Kotuku; and I putt (and approach) with the Tui].
Kahu (Distance Driver). Kahu is the Māori name for the largest hawk in New Zealand. Like its namesake, the Kahu disc is super fast and extremely powerful, easily matching the other long distance drivers in my bag. What set the Kahu apart for me was the ease with which I was able to put it on a line and control the disc flight. Thrown flat with a traditional power grip, it was easy for me to put the disc on a straight line that stayed true for the entire flight, with a typical tail off as the disc speed dropped. With many long-range drivers I rely on the disc running an S-pattern to maximize distance.
For me, the Kahu achieved the same (or more) distance with very little bend in its flight. This opened up new lines on a number of test holes since I didn’t need to allow for substantial back-and-forth movement in the flight. With a bit of added snap, I also found the Kahu to fly well on a flip-hyzer line (released on a hyzer angle, intended to “snap” up and fly straight). All in all the Kahu, for me, is a superfast, very reliable, long distance driver that has quickly become my go-to driver.
The only draw back to your run-of-the-mill Kahu is the way it handles a head wind, where it can be vulnerable to flipping over. The Kahu comes in three flavours–under stable, stable, and over stable. Make sure you use the OS version for headwind shots.
Piwakawaka (midrange). I’d put this one in the bag solely for its awesome name! “What was that you just threw?” “A Piwakawaka!” It rolls off the tongue!
On a more serious note, Piwakawaka is the Māori word for the New Zealand Fantail, a smaller bird more appropriate to a midrange disc. The RPM site aptly describes the disc as a reliable straight disc, that will easily hold a line, with a sneaky long glide. I was surprised at how fast and long the disc flew. Made with a comfortably soft plastic, I was able to use a fan grip, rather than a power grip. For midrange throws, I much prefer the fan grip for added control, but traditional hard plastics can get a rough edge that scrapes on release. The soft plastic used for the Piwakawaka makes it easy to grip and comfortable to throw.
For me the flight had more flip to it than the promised straight line, but that is fine with me as I prefer using a flip hyzer line for most of my midrange tosses. The disc runs quite fast, again out distancing most of my current mid-range discs with very little effort. While I am still fine tuning the lines I take with this disc, it’s become my mid-range staple.
Kotuku (midrange). the Kotuku is valued by the Māori for its elegant white feathers, and has long legs and a long, thin neck, “which has a distinct kink when flying.” As a solidly over-stable midrange, that describes the Kotuku disc perfectly. Like the Piwak, it is a fast midrange and perfect for a hyzer approach when you don’t want to risk running long. It’s stability also makes it a useful forehand approach disc. I never have a question as to what line this disc will take, or where it will land.
Tui (putter). the Tūī are “unique to New Zealand and belong to the honeyeater family, which means they feed mainly on nectar from flowers of native plants.” If the basket is the flower of disc golf, then the Tui is the best disc in my bag for feeding on its nectar! Like the other RPM discs, the Tui is fast for it’s class, but it is a straight flyer. Using a spin putt from distance, I can put the Tui on a dead line to the basket that will always make a run from 45 – 60+ feet. Inside the circle that disc is easy to use with a push putt style and it’s straight line run means few side to side misses. All in all, the most valuable tool in my bag!
Stay tuned for more reviews as new RPM plastic slips into my bag. Make sure to check out my review of the RPM DiscMate–it’s catching what you’re throwing!