Monday, April 9, 2018

Wrapping Up At Waco

We wish we could attend every event on the 2018 tour, but sadly the logistics of doing so are way too intense. The Waco Charity Open was an exception though, where we had a huge amount of the DD team representing us on the course, during the flymart, and in creating some fun footage to check out. If you haven’t already seen the conclusion of the tournament, stop reading now and go check out some post-production coverage before we spoil everything.

Our very own Bobby Brown took his camera to the course for several days during the Texas tournament and was able to capture some behind the scenes action that you don’t always see when viewing events at home. From an emotional montage highlighting Paige Pierce’s battle to the top and commemorating her 100th PDGA win to the stress on everyone’s faces each time we heard the thunder roll in the distance, Waco was intense.

Not only does this sneak peek give you insights into some of our trade secrets of media coverage but it also highlights just how much work goes into these tournaments. From setting up product and games at the Festival of the Flying Discs to documenting the tournament while getting soaked in a downpour, the people on the ground work hard to make each event a fun and memorable experience.

Without further ado, take a peek at Part 2 of our Disc Golf Adventure to Waco, TX. If you like what you see, let us know in the comments below!
Friday, April 6, 2018

Junior Sponsorships At DD - What We Look For

You may have noticed that at Dynamic Discs, we have a robust group of sponsored players, anywhere from touring professionals to casual players who make a big difference in their community. We also like to sponsor junior athletes who have a passion for the sport - it’s both an honor and privilege to be a part of the disc golf career of these young players!

But how exactly do we decide which junior players to sponsor? While in many ways the criteria can be the same as an adult sponsorship, we have to take additional information into consideration. After all, picking from a talented pool of adolescents requires a different approach.

Playing Well And Then Some

DD Team Manager Robert McCall has a big task on his hands, as he finds and recruits all of the talented players on our team. When looking for juniors to sponsor, he notes that much of the same criteria is present, including examining ratings, tournament finishes, and the number of tournaments played each year. However, there’s more to it than pure performance that he evaluates: “I'm particularly impressed with juniors who are active on social media and active in their local communities as they pertain to disc golf.”

Being a part of the DD team doesn’t simply mean you’re the highest rated player in your area and you crush it at each event you attend. The ways in which you help to grow the sport and foster a community spirit in your local area speak volumes about who you are as a person and how you align with our team values.

A Family Affair

It used to be that disc golf was a sport that adults played with their friends on the weekends, yet it has now transitioned into a popular pastime for families around the world. With the emergence of kid only tournaments and a push to teach the sport in schools, it makes our job of sponsoring juniors even more exciting.

Robert sees this shift firsthand and uses this viewpoint as another basis for assessing sponsorships, saying “As disc golf is coming into its own a little bit more as a sport, we're starting to see more and more juniors and their families committing to it like they would little league and select sports, and that commitment is awesome to see!”

However like so many good things in life, there simply aren’t enough slots to go around to all of the talented junior players we see week in and week out on social media. While McCall’s job sounds like a dream come true, tough decisions must also be made:

“The hardest part about sponsorship is that there will always be more qualified people than there are sponsorships available, so if we're not able to sponsor someone, we still want them to know that we think they're great! A lot of sponsorship just comes down to timing and fit.”

Do you have a junior player who is obsessed with the sport? As a supportive parent, make sure you’re doing everything you can to help promote disc golf in your own community and encourage your child to play to their heart’s content!
Thursday, April 5, 2018

The DD Women's Series - Part 4: Natalie Hollokӧi And Mental Pressure

We’ve covered a lot in our last three posts with DD team member Natalie Hollokӧi. From getting to know her disc golf background to learning about competition and touring in Europe, she’s provided us with exceptional insight into what it’s like to be a Swiss female professional disc golfer.

In our last post of this four-part series, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into how Natalie handles the mental pressure of the game both at home and abroad. She has had some interesting experiences and shows us how she manages to keep a positive attitude despite the obstacles she’s encountered.

US Competition

As we learned in our last post, touring in Europe isn’t quite the same as it is in America. “Playing a US tournament was another childhood dream,” Natalie told us, and in 2011 she made that dream a reality by traveling to Santa Cruz to compete in that year’s Worlds event. Citing that she was incredibly honored and proud to play with many other professional women, she ended in 19th place and had a great time.

However, that was just a warm-up for the mental pressure she would experience during the President’s Cup, where for several years in a row she battled against World Champion Paige Pierce. Natalie recalls the events fondly, saying “It was the first time they showed it on TV, and everyone was watching you. I had a caddy with me - he kept telling me to breathe.”

Hollokӧi’s vulnerability is refreshing here, as all too often people think that professional players don’t get nervous. Natalie will be the first to tell you exactly what races through her mind in these high-pressure situations, and most of the time it’s to calm down!

Play Like A Girl

For the most part, men in the United States are incredibly supportive of women in the sport of disc golf. Yet in Switzerland, Natalie feels like she encounters challenges when talking with others on the course: "I have also heard ‘for a woman you are throwing far.’ Once a man talked with me about distance throwing - they think women don’t throw far. The body is different from men to women, that’s science.”

Despite hearing this criticism, she maintains her composure and continues to shred each course she plays. When competing in the US, she does see some of these attitudes trickle over into different elements of the game. “[There’s] always a discussion about doing shorter tees or not. I played for the first time Master Worlds last year. They changed to the short tees and I was shocked!” Even certain tournaments, in general, seem to cater to men only, and rather than let it get Natalie frustrated, she simply finds events where she can truly excel and feel welcomed.

After learning a bit about disc golf in Switzerland and understanding the nuances of the sport here and abroad, does it make you excited to someday travel to Europe and play in a few events? It’s certainly a bucket list item for many! Thanks so much Natalie for sharing your insights with us, and we look forward to seeing what the rest of 2018 has in store for you.
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

What Do Your Practice Rounds Look Like?

There's no doubt that to excel in disc golf you have to put in the work. Different people take different approaches, where for some, field work and putting practice takes priority over hitting the course. Some like to play a wide range of courses to develop all of their skills, and still, other players prefer to hone their shots on one course over and over again.

However you choose to practice, there's no wrong way to do it. Sometimes we tend to think that the pros are so skilled that they don't need to log hours of time on the course outside of tournament play, but we have the documentation to prove just the opposite!

Watching the pros practice might provide some insight into your own game - perhaps they focus on a specific shot that you tend to ignore, or maybe their sense of focus is different than yours. Take a look at some of our pros preparing for the 2018 season and see what you can start implementing into your own routine!

Chris Clemons and Jordan Castro at Fountain Hills
Eric Oakley and Chris Tellesbo at Vista Del Camino
AJ Risley at Vista Del Camino
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Exploring UPlayDG - The History Behind This Visionary Program

If you have a school-aged child, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of UPlayDG. A 501(c)(3) program that teaches disc golf in schools across America, it’s currently expanding beyond the wildest dreams of founder and DD team member Zoe Andyke. Together with co-founder and DD player Dustin Keegan, they are ramping up their efforts in 2018 and hope to reach at least 10,000 students while they tour the nation and compete at the highest level our sport has to offer.

You’ll be seeing the UPlayDG name come up time and time again this year, so we thought it’s only fair to give disc golf fans a history lesson about how this organization came to fruition. Like most great things in life, the foundation of the program started many years back during the formative years of both Andyke’s and Keegan’s disc golf careers.

A Natural Talent

Although he didn’t discover disc golf until the age of 20, Dustin Keegan must have known that he was going to make an impact in the sport. Having learned disc golf from his friends and yet never throwing a disc until adulthood, despite growing up right next to Westmoreland DGC in West Eugene, he quickly grew to love the game.

“I was playing ball golf three to four days a week for two to three years after high school. When I was shown the game of disc golf it just kinda clicked. It was like everything I love about ball golf plus the freedom of controlling an object instead of hitting it,” he said.

Keegan’s skill set quickly paid off, as after playing in only five amateur tournaments, he won the Eugene Celebration in 2009. Eight years later he’s in his fifth year of touring and continues to rack up impressive finishes at each event he attends. It’s only logical that his passion for the sport would sooner or later translate into making a huge difference in the disc golf world.

Longing To Teach

With much of a similar story, Zoe Andyke didn’t discover disc golf until adulthood. Starting to play in 2005, she said with a laugh, “I literally thought it was a secret backyard game that my friends made up.” A move to Bend, Oregon gave her the opportunity to begin playing competitively while she worked her day job as a physical education teacher.

The chance to move to Alaska came up in 2009, where Andyke got to become even more immersed in all things outdoors, including disc golf. Just before leaving, she taught her first women’s clinic with an impressive 32 ladies in attendance and knew that teaching disc golf was in the cards at some point.

Coming back to Oregon in 2011, she decided to go on tour in 2012 and quickly made a name for herself. As the 4 x Oregon State Champion from 2012 to 2016, she also got involved in numerous clubs in the state. Leveraging her teaching experience and becoming the “club pro,” she capitalized on the opportunity to spread disc golf to hundreds of people.

Team Oregon Roots

Since they’re both Oregon natives, it makes sense that Zoe and Dustin would cross paths at a tournament or two. The two fondly recall the first time they met at the 2012 Pine Jam, where Zoe took home the win and Dustin ended in 6th place. At that time, Andyke was looking for a touring and training partner that she would get along with. Little did she know what was in store for the both of them!

Keegan and Andyke began playing together casually, growing their friendship and eventually taking on doubles events as Team Oregon. 2013 saw them hit the road together as official touring partners, and it was during this time that the very first seeds of UPlayDG came to life.

In an effort to support their tour, the two of them started hosting donation based disc golf clinics on Friday nights during every stop. With her natural ability to teach, this sparked a fire inside of Zoe to educate people about disc golf everywhere she went. “I told Dustin that this wasn’t enough. I had to get into schools,” she said.

School Is In Session

While taking the time to tour and grow their skills as professional touring disc golfers, the desire to teach disc golf in schools kept growing for Zoe. In 2015, she taught her disc golf curriculum, at that time termed a “disc golf camp,” to students at Lincoln Elementary in Corvallis, Oregon. The experience was overwhelmingly positive, except for an incident that showed Andyke the importance of safety during her program - a student hit her in the face with a disc, splitting open her upper lip, and creating quite a memorable experience.

Later in 2015, a corporate wellness event with Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon truly gave Dustin and Zoe the foundation they needed to get UPlayDG up and running. With a focus on outdoor activity and blending the Father’s Day holiday into the mix, Intel contacted the pros to include a disc golf tournament with all proceeds going toward a good cause.

The event was so successful that after a discussion with the Oregon Sports Authority, the money was used to begin funding what we now know as UPlayDG. Called Oregon Youth Disc Golf at that time, Zoe and Dustin now had a sustainable way to approach schools in the area and begin to educate children about disc golf.

What’s Next?

Tillamook High School in Tillamook, Oregon was the first official UPlayDG partner, as both Keegan and Andyke’s skills were tested to condense a nine-week disc golf curriculum into the span of one school week. Using this momentum, they contacted schools across the state and were able to reach nearly 7,000 students in 2017 while also touring.

The passion for teaching disc golf couldn’t be more apparent on Zoe’s face as she recalled her experience at Tillamook: “I realized that I was on the brink of something way bigger than me and I realized where all of my childhood dreams came from. I knew what I was put on earth to do!” It’s with this determination to live out her dreams that she and Dustin are working to make UPlayDG bigger than ever in 2018.

Operating as a non-profit often means countless hours of personal sacrifice to work toward a goal that is so near and dear to both of their hearts. If you’d like to donate to their cause, visit Curious how they teach disc golf to kids? Stay tuned for future blogs that detail how they successfully transform their passion into education across the nation.
Monday, April 2, 2018

Tell Us Your Fun Disc Golf Stories

Disc golf is more than just throwing some plastic into a basket. It involves making new friends and enjoying an activity with the people we’ve known for years. Disc golf allows us to express ourselves in ways that we may not otherwise choose to do out in the world. While there are a certainly a few stand-out personalities in the sport, we think some of our DD team members are pretty darn funny too.

From time to time we like to video our players during practice rounds or for short storytelling sessions, as this brings a fun and real side to the sport. We’ve only captured just a fraction of the good times we see on the course with some of AJ Risley’s singing or Eric Oakley and Chris Tellesbo sharing about Gumby and their friendship.

How do you and your friends connect while on the course? We want to hear your silliest stories, the craziest anecdotes, and the funny quirks that only show themselves during a round of golf. Don’t be afraid - share your experiences with us in the comments below!