If you’re one of the poor souls who’ve found themselves browsing disc golf Reddit over the course of the last few years, (or if you’re in a secret relationship with their troubled stepchild r/discgolfcirclejerk), you’ve no doubt discovered that the allegiances we form to overstable approach discs play second fiddle to nothing.
Sure there are folks out there who would do unspeakable things, (to their bank accounts or otherwise), to find replacements in their Holy Grail Destroyers’ lineage, or to get their hands on the forever-extinct Prodigy X1, but even the most fanatical eBay prospector doesn’t possess the overwhelming, obsessive mania that #BergGang exudes. Loudly. And frequently.
And this deep-dish delicacy is only the latest in a long line of overstable approach discs to wear that crown.
Do we not all collectively remember having to avoid our Zone-throwing friends just a few scant years ago, lest we wanted to receive a rhetorical 9-hole lecture about just how incredible the disc was?
* * *
The tribalism of approach disc cliques is ferocious, and far beyond the petty squabbles we find between the 2 Line and 3 Line factions of the AJ Destroyer debate.
Berg. Zone. Gator. Rhyno. Pig. Et cetera, et cetera, forever and ever until death do we part. These discs are a large part of the fingerprint of our personal game, and a rather significant percentage of our overall disc golf identity.
There is a very distinct reason for that: They must be the most reliable disc that we throw on the course.
The overstable approach disc is Old Faithful. It’s the gunslinger’s revolver. It’s the chef’s knife. It’s the friend that knows what “no questions asked” really means.
You use this disc in the most demanding situations at the most important places on the disc golf course. If you can’t lean into something comfortable and predictable from approach distances, you’re going to have a rough go of it.
This is the last disc that you would ever want to be without, and the reason here is TRUST. It is the disc that we must trust the most – just like some authoritarian cult leader that leaves us no choice.
It’s the climber’s carabiner. It’s the cable holding the elevator up.
Overstability begets trustworthiness, trustworthiness begets loyalty, and loyalty is a social-emotional drug.
* * *
There is nothing revolutionary about the Berg, or the Toro, or whatever cop-fetish tribute Dynamic Discs slaps on their overstable approach disc. The harsh reality is that it’s the relationship between you and your overstable approach discs that makes them unlike any other disc in your bag.
I say this again to drive it home: Overstable = Trust, and trust is the most important aspect of the instruments in our beloved game
And so it stands to reckon that this high school-ish bickering over approach disc identity is all for naught. This isn’t the same clout that you would conjure by being the first of your friends to discover a new band.
No, the strange hierarchy of the overstable approach disc cliques is all style, no substance. It’s all personal preference, not a matter of discovering something heretofore unknown within the disc golf ecosystem. You are not disc golf’s Charles Darwin.
If it is overtable enough to be trusted with desperate and uncomfortable shots at crucial distances from the target, it has the potential to make you smitten. It has the “it” factor necessary to become a part of your disc golf identity.
There’s no secret here. No proprietary R&D magic. If it’s overstable enough, it will do the trick -and the trick is to fade hard – and if it’s made properly, (as every major manufacturer has proven themselves capable of doing), it will find its cheerleaders and its unpaid spokespersons.
The same is true for IPA’s: Put the right amount of hops in it, and a cult will form around a pile of cans within the week.
But will this realization cause a stagnation in disc golf the way that IPA’s have caused a gumming of the gears of the craft beer industry? The secret is out: If you build it, they will come and buy it. With a business model this simple, major manufacturers would be silly not to pump out clones and facsimiles of other peoples’ products for the simple sake of gobbling up market share.
We’re already seeing it.
* * *
Just like the big-name, yellow-fizzy beer makers continue to pump out a glut of clone beers in order to take shelf space away from their competitors, disc golf manufacturers are following suit – and shamelessly. Just look at the Zone > Toro > Zone OS specs in chronological order of release:
If you trust Innova more than Discraft, (or you just prefer them), you’ll have no problem bagging a Toro and telling all your Zone Friends about it.
Now all you need to do is add a dash of scarcity into the mix, (real or perceived but always strategic), and you’ve successfully thrown a massive load of coal into the engine on the hype train.
Add fresh art. Put a pro’s name on it. Get some influencer-“athlete” to exalt a specific run. All of these are catalysts to cult status.
* * *
This is what your typical cults do: They tweak an existing form of fanaticism to prey on a very well-understood demographic for their own personal gain. To achieve their grandiose and disturbing endgame, cult leaders exploit one thing above all else: Trust.
You have to really trust someone in order to down a glass of cyanide-laced Kool Aid, and you have to really trust that Berg to get you up and around whatever nonsense lies between you and your target. And, when it comes to the myriad of options to choose from in the overstable approach disc market, there’s a Kool Aid flavor out there for everyone.
[Kinda makes you wish the Discraft Comet was an overstable approach for all of the Heaven’s Gate references we could make.]
But, just like Jim Jones gave his followers the aforementioned sugary-death-drink, Dave Dunipace has given us the Toro, (and given Discraft the Zone OS by forced mathematical transparency).
The same heart strings are being pulled by both men, and we can tell by online discourse alone that we’re mistaking hype for trust.
* * *
You can manufacture hype, and that hype can be very real, but you can’t manufacture trust. Trust is always real.
Trust is valuable, not malleable.
Laying on the tracks as the Hype Train approaches is thrilling, sure, but if you’re not careful your entire game could be derailed by the spectacle.