by Rick Bays
The Designer Pro target from Catching Targets tends to polarize disc golfers. When you see this basket you will either like it or loathe it. You will find yourself on the side of staunch traditionalism or on the side of the intrigued. Me? I think I'm on the side of the intrigued but I can appreciate the objections of the traditionalists, also.
Doctor Fred Chittenden (the force behind Catching Targets and the "dolf" web site) has put years of research and design into his target/basket concepts. What he has come up with is very interesting. The idea behind the Designer Pro target is to make a versatile basket. Versatility in this case means that you can configure the basket into several (well, more than several - at least 20 that I'm aware of) different looks. The design
includes many movable/removable and interchangeable parts. Its kind of like the Tinker Toy version of a disc golf basket.
The configurations range from a traditional-looking basket to sphere-like targets perched atop a pole support and targets that are only accessible from certain directions and angles (meaning you would have to plan your drive or upshot to land on a particular side of the basket in order to have a putt (or at least have an easier putt).
I configured mine into a traditional-looking basket (12 single chains). I must say, it caught very well for a single chain style basket. Actually better than the old DGA Mach Is if you ask me. The reason it caught better than other single chain baskets is because of the design of the chain support. The chain support with this model is four curved tubes. The tubes start at the top of the basket where the chains attach to the top rim, and
curve inwards toward the bottom center of the basket. When a disc hits the chains and penetrates to these supports, they effectively deflect the disc down into the basket and don't let many shots crawl out the back compared to other single chain baskets.
What's the downside, then? Why do some people not like these baskets? Well, one of the detractions in some minds is the versatility. There are outcries to leave targets as they basically already are, with design changes only being performance improvements to the current basket set up. Okay, I can see that to a certain point. We already have a standard and accepted design. A design that is in use for pretty much all competition. But, if some players want to experiment or expand the game to use different designs, I for one am willing to give it a shot. I think I would have to play a few rounds on a course with 18 of these targets set up in different configurations before I could give an opinion on which line of argument I
am for. Another downside: these targets are plastic. The plastic is flexible and does aid in the versatility, but plastic is not as sturdy or solid as metal. Whether metal is truly better in function or just gives that perception, the fact remains that metal targets receive much wider acceptance than a plastic target will. Dr. Fred has used these baskets for years on his private course and claims they hold up to weather and abuse
just fine, but for me: give me metal! (But, remember I did say that they catch pretty well).
The good news is that prototype metal baskets have been made and are just as versatile as the plastic versions. A metal fabricator that can mass produce the baskets with all the bent pipe is currently being searched for. A public course with 18 metal Designer Pro baskets is slated to be installed in the Pacific Northwest this year. (I have family in Lake Stevens, so I want to try this course out and see if the different configurations add to the game or take away from the game interesting).
Is the plastic a bad thing? Well, no, not really. I putted on mine pretty hard from close range and it never fell over or even threatened to. When assembling the basket you are instructed to use PVC glue. I didn't use any glue (I'm typically not one to follow directions). Even without the glue my basket did not come apart while putting into it. So, it seems it will hold up to putting and won't fall over. The plastic should definitely survive the weather. If you are in the market for an inexpensive practice basket for the backyard, give this a thought: they are only 59.95 plus shipping and only weigh 12 poundsS. Probably better than trying to build your own out of stuff you get at Home Depot.
Check out the web site. Take a look at the baskets and look at all the
configurations you can put it into. www.dolf.com
Its probably not for everybody, but it might be for you.