Written By: Ernst Schneidereit
After the World Cup, there should be no question worldwide that soccer is Germany's number one sport. In the Rhineland town of Mainz, however, a dedicated group of disc golfers are trying to at least encourage Germans to consider a second sport. They have created a short public course at the Mainz Volkspark and a longer challenge on the Mainz Greenbelt near the historic Citadel. Both offered the opportunity to test the new Aerobie Sharpshooter #1, the Innova Wraith Pro Line and the Lightning Upshot #2.
The Volkspark course (map here) favors a sidearm thrower or understable discs on most of its six official holes. It follows a square pattern around the southeastern side of the park. Watch out for the pathways surrounding this area, as the course designers consider them OB for baskets inside the square. An OB fence also threatens on holes 2, 3, 5 and 6. That and large trees make for the only complications on an otherwise easy layout.
For this course the Wraith worked just fine. Offered as an Extra Long Range Driver, it follows a straight path rather easily, with a medium amount of fade. Sidearm throws work fine, but you must start it really low on the release to keep it from climbing too much.
The Greenbelt (Grüner Gürtel) course is only about two kilometers from the Volkspark and works its way around the forested moat and high walls of the Mainz Citadel (Zitadelle). Number seven is the “signature” hole, as it features a narrow fairway and a hole guarded its entire length by the deep and inaccessible moat on the left side. Losing the Wraith here on our second-time through was a definite downer, literally and metaphorically. (Word to the cheap or the wise: Don't try to cut the corner to the target. In addition, climbing the two locked gates that lead to this section of the moat will not necessarily lead to finding your disc.)
While the Greenbelt is only 12 holes and an object course at this time, it's a fine complement to the six-hole Volkspark, featuring better routing and scenery. The map - (look for two links at the bottom of this page), is not yet in the PDGA Directory, but is very exact and a little time will allow you to easily discover most object trees and teeing areas. Baskets are a future goal for the Mainz disc golfers.
With the Wraith gone, I was pushed to put the Aerobie Sharpshooter #1 Precision Long Range Driver into use. “Precision” describes the unforgiving nature of this disc on release. Without a practiced and precise anhyzer throw, you will get nothing out of this disc. A quick and heavily overstable turn will be the result of a flat release and forget it if you occasionally release hyzer. (For the a great discussion of the differences between these types of throws, see Disc Golf Review Angles). Sidearm throwing works, but without real results. Distance is as described-not extra long. If you prefer and consistently use a anhyzer release, however, you will enjoy the s-curve flight path you get from the #1. Others who like the Aerobie brand will probably want to stick with the previous driver release, the unusual Epic (reviewed at Disc Fly).
Strangely enough, both of Aerobie's driver releases are expert level discs. Their approach disc (Sharpshooter #2, reviewed in our last article) and putters, however, are worthwhile additions to the beginner to professional arsenal. The Upshot #2 likewise falls into this category.
The Upshot #2 was my putter and approach disc for this European trip. The first time I needed to make a hard throw, its seriously understable flight path surprised me. Did I make a mistake on the release? No. I found it to be understable and very accurate as an approach disc. This is now my third approach disc, complementing the straight Discraft Wasp Elite Z and the stable Elite X Discraft MRV. While I tagged a 100 ft. birdie with this disc, I found it mediocre when used for short putting and in windy conditions, you might prefer a disc with a leaner profile, like the Innova Wolf.
Another note for visiting German disc golf courses: 1) most park users have no idea what those baskets or teeing areas are for, and 2) parks are incredibly full on the weekends and evenings, making disc golfing practically impossible. This makes early morning or weekday use an absolute necessity. Otherwise, you'll find baskets holding barbecue and picnic supplies, being used for soccer practice or generally worthless for their intended application.
There is hope, however, for the Mainz disc golf group. When we were playing, a nearby P.E. class of some thirty teenagers was seen receiving instruction on playing the course. So the future may find Deutschland adopting disc golf.