Vibram Birdie Bash adds World Championship for 2015

2015 marks the third year of the Vibram Birdie Bash. We’ve followed the progress of the Birdie Bash with Vibram’s Steve Dodge since it began and it is safe to say 2015 will be the biggest year yet. Feedback from year one proved very valuable in year two for the Birdie Bash and has set the stage for a very exciting year.

Just as in the past, feedback was heard and Dodge and the Vibram team have have tweaked a few things here and there and even added a Vibram Birdie Bash World Championship to cap off the year. We spoke with Dodge about the year ahead for Vibram and this year’s Birdie Bash.


 

A new year obviously brings some new ideas from Vibram Disc Golf. We know you have a few testers out there for initial feedback. Are you and the Vibram gang ready for a big 2015?

“Yup! We have new discs, new materials, our first Vibram Birdie Bash World Championships. I expect this to be our best year ever.”

You’ve focused more on the distance drivers in recent years. Do you have any plans to revisit some putters, midranges, or fairway drivers?

“Yes. We review the line and attack the weakest segment of the line. I see an ideal disc line as having 16 discs (the four distances multiplied by four stability ranges). We have 12 of these spots filled and will end the year with at least 14 filled.”

You’re one who always has their finger on the pulse of disc golf. What do you think of the current state of things?

“There is a lot going on right now, it is genuinely hard to keep up. In addition to things like the Birdie Bash continuing to grow and the myriad standard events, there are new opportunities that are popping up because disc golf has reached the tipping point. We are not close to the tipping point, we’ve gone over. In the past week, I’ve had real talks with/about Major League Baseball, major charities (St. Jude and others), and huge corporations wanting to tap into the runaway freight train that is disc golf.”

“In 2011, I predicted we were two years away from the sport blowing up, so take this with a grain of salt: I expect the 2017 state of disc golf to be significantly bigger and better than it currently is. One of the challenges that we are going to have – or that I would like us to have – is to stay true to our roots. We are a counter culture sport founded in honor and respect for our competitors. The Birdie Bash has a Spirit Award (do good, have fun) and I think we should work to spread that to other disc golf events. It needs to be a staple of our sport so that when new players come in, it is accepted as standard and cool.”

We are entering the third year of the Vibram Birdie Bash. Has it been exciting to watch it grow to what it has become today?

“Exciting is an understatement. As the VBB continues to grow and become an established event, it is also great to see other companies coming on board with their versions of these grass roots events. For over 60% of the VBB participants, it was their first organized disc golf event. For 1/3 of the TDs last year, it was their first experience being a TD. I love this! We are building the next generation of players and TDs – and embedding, or at least introducing, the concept of the Spirit Award while we are at it.”

Last year at this time you predicted 150-200 events and 6-8,000 players for 2014. What were the final numbers for 2014 VBBs?

“201 events, 6800 players.”

You have some exciting new events for this year’s Birdie Bash, but let’s start with the local events first. What changes have been made for the 2015 Birdie Bash?

“I see three areas that have changed a bit.”

“Admin: We have made some big changes in the administration and fulfillment sides. All event packs will now be scheduled to arrive on Thursday before the event (as opposed to Friday) so that if something goes wrong, we will have a day to fix it rather than scrambling to find a solution. Also, TDs have greater control and access to player registration thanks to our partnership with DiscGolfScene.com.”

“Prizes: In addition to the great player packs and CTPs and Win-Your-Card prizes, we have added in some attendance prizes.

  • For every 10 players, the event will get a VDG Water Bottle.
  • For every 20 players, the event will get a VDG Hat.
  • For every 30 players, the event will get a VDG Sunday Bag.

So, for example, if 40 players attend, the extra prizes will include 4 water bottles, 2 hats and a Sunday Bag.”

“Scoring: In addition to the standard scoring, we added in a new wrinkle so there is always a point earned on every hole.”

  • 1 Point: Metal hits (locking collar to number plate)
  • 2 Points: Birdie
  • 5 Points: Eagles or Aces
  • 1 Point: If no points are scored, the closest to the pin after all (allowed) throws gets a point

The big addition is the Vibram Birdie Bash World Championships to be held July 18 and 19 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Tell us about this new crowning event. Is it the same format as the Birdie Bash? Grab your two discs and compete?

“The general format is the same, two discs, same scoring. The two wrinkles are that we will have three rounds, and live coverage by SmashBoxx TV. We will be crowning the first ever Vibram Birdie Bash World Champion, this is going to be huge!”

“For the finals, Vibram is covering all PDGA player fees, and registration fees for all invited players. There will be an insane player pack, tons of prizes, a Saturday Buffet and more. Also, it is going to be held in Kalamazoo the weekend before Am Worlds, which I would guess many participants will also be attending. What a great way to start their Worlds Week!”

How can someone earn an invite?

“To earn an invite, you would either need to TD or win a Birdie Bash.”

It seems like a big part of the VBB World Championships is just the atmosphere to promote disc golf, correct?

“Absolutely. This is a celebration in every sense of the word.”

The Spirit Award was one thing you added last year. Did that really help take the events to another level?

“It was a very good step. I don’t think it took it to the next level like the finals will do. For me, Spirit is a critical part of the sport and I was happy to have an opportunity to embed it into at least this series of events. I encourage all TDs to start including it in their events. It does not need a prize, it just needs to be recognized during the awards. Let someone know that you notice how great they are.”

You mentioned you would pick the Ibex and Summit as your two discs for a VBB. Still sticking by that?

“Absolutely. I remember throwing the prototype Ibex with Aaron Ala on a frozen pond in Central Massachusetts. We were bundled up, taking a long lunch to do some testing. The first throw was amazing, it just flew and flew and flew. The glide on that disc is inspiring. The next throw I tried an anny line and it just held it, never rolling, never coming back, just going and going and going. On a hyzer it flies true that fades out, thrown straight, it finishes straight. It is the exact right disc for my throw. Before that day, I was a Buzzz man, but I quickly realized we had hit a homerun with the Ibex and there was no looking back.”

“The Summit works for me too, although thrown hard it will turn a little too much. Inside 150’, it is money for me all day. Here are a couple stories about these discs…”

“Ibex: I have no idea where I was, it may have been Minnesota, and we were testing the Birdie Bash idea on this little nine hole course around a pond. My group got to hole five and it was a beautiful 220′ left to right around a stand of trees. I had the tee and took the opportunity to tell the group, ‘This is exactly the type of hole that makes me love the Ibex. It will hold the anny line all the way to the basket and never fight out of it.’ I step on to the tee and throw a beautiful anny ace, never a doubt the whole way. As it was a nine hole course, we played the course twice. The second time around I was on the tee and someone in my group said, ‘Let’s see that shot again.’ I proceeded to hit the pole on the fly. It was wonderful.”

“Summit: There really are too many special shots I’ve had with the Summit, but the one that comes to mind quickly is another Birdie Bash event, this one up in Montreal. I drive up to the event, bringing all the discs because UPS/Customs screwed us. I’m hailed as a hero and we have an amazing happiness which lasted throughout the day. Anyway, I step up to my first tee, a 200 foot hole through a smattering of trees. My Ibex hits first tree. As I was last to tee, I get to throw again and my Summit goes straight in for the Birdie. I put my arms up like Rocky and everyone thinks my errant shot was a trick! It was wonderful. We laughed the whole day.”

“There are too many great stories and great people and I hope the birdie bashes help people make and meet more of them.”

How can someone sign up to host or play in a Vibram Birdie Bash?

BirdieBash.com

Anything else you want to cover?

“Nope, we can talk about X-Link Float next time!”


Be sure to visit BirdieBash.com for details on how to host your own Birdie Bash or to find one near you. Thanks to Dodge for all the info!

 

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