We have heard that you were the first or among the first women to go on tour. When did you start touring, and what was the most difficult thing about being on tour early on?
I started touring in 1999, I decided to quit my job, sell my house, and hop in the 1973 Winnebago with Al Shack and Todd Branch. Some of the difficulties were long distances between tournaments and small women’s divisions. I did get to meet a lot of great people and see a lot of beautiful courses.
Do you primarily throw forehand or backhand?
I am right handed but I throw left handed backhand, and some right hand forehand upshots
Putting, driving or approach? Which of these is the strongest part of your disc golf game?
I think that my driving is my strongest part of my game, I think if I would spend more time practicing putting I would shave off some strokes.
What 3 courses in the world would you like to play that you haven’t had the opportunity to play yet?
I’m not sure, I have never been to Colorado, maybe something in Hawaii, and Johnson park one of my favorite local courses is being reinstalled and I think they will be using it for world’s next year.
If you could have a tee off song what would it be?
I like a lot of different music, mostly hard rock, usually something fast to get me pumped up.
(Sue didn’t have a specific song for us, here is one we would suggest as it fits her description of hard rock and fast we hope it would get her pumped up)
You are a 3 time world champion, taking 1st in Grandmasters Women in 2016, 1st in Masters women in 2012 and 1st in the Advanced Women’s’ Division at Amatuer Worlds in 1997, any advice on how to deal with the high pressure that comes along with competing and winning a major disc golf event?
Practice the courses, know what all your disc do even your backup disc, bring enough water and a snack, have confidence in yourself, practice putting a lot.
If you could have an official beer of disc golf what would it be?
What is the biggest piece of advice you have for someone who is thinking about going on tour?
Pre register for the tournament, try to get to the course a few days early to check it out, find out who the local sponsors are and check them out to thank them, have fun, stay positive, be a good role model.
I first started playing in Fall 2007 when a friend who played occasionally invited me and my boyfriend to play a course close to both our homes over the weekend. My friend aced off a tree on the 9th hole. It was crazy! I couldn’t believe it! My boyfriend and I joined a local Tuesday doubles league soon after. I wanted to play well in league, so I started practicing everyday after work.
Since you spend much of your off season in California what are your three favorite courses in California?
You primarily throw forehand, when you first started playing and touring did you receive any criticism or comments from people telling you that you needed to learn backhand? And if so, how did you deal with those comments early on in your career?
I definitely got a lot of criticism for only throwing forehand. I had tried early on to learn backhand, but it was so much less natural for me to throw. I began to simply focus on finding a way to get a sidearm to follow backhand lines, rather than pursue learning the backhand skill, which had become extremely frustrating to figure out by that point. In addition, one time after several failed backhand attempts and too much verbal beration on my part, a wise fellow sidearm player once told me to just keep throwing sidearms…to do what works for me and forget the people who think otherwise. It’s difficult to work through criticism sometimes, but if you really know YOUR game, it won’t really matter what most people say. You can focus on what you need to do, where your weaknesses really are, and at a pace at works for you, not on someone else’s timeline.
Photo credit: Bill Baker
If a grilled cheese sandwich and taco got into a fight, who would come out with the victory?
I’m pretty sure the grilled cheese would just sit on the taco and smash it without much trouble.
We have noticed you often have at least 1 ear bud in when you are competing, assuming you are using an mp3 player to listen to music as opposed to a walkman or discman. If you were to turn on said mp3 player right now, what is the first song that would play?
Happy by Pharell
Any exciting new items planned for Cali Connection coming up in the next couple of months?
We just released a new ladies hoodie for the winter months and are looking forward to fresh designs for 2017.
If you could only play with 3 discs for the rest of your professional disc golf career which 3 would they be?
Any rituals or routines you like to do to stay calm, cool, and collected on the course?
Listening to music really helps me stay calm. I like to bust out a little head bob or booty shake here and there to keep my muscles loose too. 🙂
Congratulations on your most recent title of United States Women’s Disc Golf Champion for 2016! You worked hard to get to where you are and have plenty of accomplishments leading up to your most recent win. Any words of advice for players who are just starting to compete or to the gals who may think they are not skilled enough to compete yet?
There’s no such thing as not being skilled enough to compete in disc golf. There is usually a division for any level of player, whether they are new or seasoned. Disc golf is a sport that gives newer players the opportunity to jump in and try it out for a relatively inexpensive fee. In addition, success and failure are part of life, so don’t worry about it if you didn’t do as well as you want. That’s the fun part…figuring out why and how to do better. Disc golf is a sport where you win a few and you lose A LOT!!! Lol. Try not to attach your self-worth or much of your ego to your score….the fact that you are out there doing your best and having fun in really all the matters!!
Well young lady you came and sat at the picnic table with me and a couple of my sparkle sisters at the 2016 PDGA Amateur World Championships, I was impressed with your confidence, attitude and demeanor. You explained to me that you aren’t just Hope Brown, you are the Young Hope Brown:) Can you explain to our readers why they call you the Young Hope Brown?
First of all thank you for making me lady of the month! Second of all I am the “Young Hope Brown” aka “YHB” because about 1 ½ hours away from my home town lives another Hope Brown that plays in the Open Women division and when people hear the name they think of her. So, one time during a tournament a disc golfer named “CuTT’ made up a hashtag which is registered as
Have you ever met the other (older) Hope Brown? If so, have you discussed joining forces in a doubles tournament?
I have indeed met the “other” Hope Brown and we have competed against each other many times. On August 20th of 2016 we competed as doubles team to try and qualify for the amateur division for the USDGC Doubles event that will be held in September in Rock Hill, SC.
At what age did you start playing disc golf? Do you remember the first time you threw a disc?
I didn’t really start playing disc golf seriously until I was 7 or 8 years old. However, my dad has played since before I was born and I have been on the disc golf course with him since I was 3 months old. The first time that I ever “threw” a real disc not a mini was about 3 years of age.
Do you spend your summer vacation from school playing disc golf? Do you play all year?
I do play during the summer months. However, it is not always the most pleasant when it gets supper HOT! One time I was complaining about the heat and my dad poured his water bottle over my head to cool me off. I do play all year round no matter the weather (preferably no rain unless in a tournament) even though it may get to some uncomfortable extremes.
Do you have other hobbies or sports you play outside of disc golf?
I really don’t play a lot of other sports except for dance and archery. I dance and shoot archery for my school and love every minute of it especially dance.
If you could have an official candy of disc golf what would it be?
If it was a hard type candy then it would be Jolly Ranchers, but if was a chocolate type candy if would have to Kit Kats.
What is your favorite driver, midrange and putter?
All players have their strengths, some are incredible putters, others have mastered the
art of parking their upshot under the basket, and some can just really crush their drives.
What would you say is your best strength as a disc golfer?
My biggest strength I would have to say is my driving. My max distance I’ve ever thrown if about 330’ and that was my recent milestone that I hit. My biggest weakness is a back hand roller, I’ve never landed one in front of me.
How did you feel when you won the 2016 Am World Championships in Madison, for the Junior III Girls (12 and under)? Do you plan on attending the 2017 Amateur World Championships, in Quad Cities, IA?
Honestly, I was really surprised. I was unaware that we wouldn’t have a finals and we finished at Bird Ruins and turned in the card and the course Marshall said congratulations. I was confused because I thought we were playing a finals the next day. I didn’t cry at the ceremony but when were eating I didn’t know what to do because after not winning my first worlds in 2015. I set a goal for myself to win worlds and that was my only goal leading up to worlds 2016. Once that was accomplished I remember feeling sad and I didn’t know what to do going forward. My dad simply told me “Let’s go get ready for next year, you gotta defend your title…right?”
Do you have any words of advice for young ladies (10-14 years old) who may be just starting to play disc golf?
I would definitely say keep trying and believe in yourself. I know it sounds really corny but it’s true. It’s easy to get frustrated (trust me I know) but it really helps to take a deep breath and channel all your emotions into getting better for the next time.
When was the first time you heard about disc golf?
The first time I heard about disc golf was from my daughter Gina, her new boyfriend (who is now her husband) played disc golf and she thought it was something I would like.
When did you first start playing disc golf?
I threw my very first disc at Token Creek, in Madison, WI the end of August 2009. I was living and working in Madison, WI at the time. I leased a parking spot and the guy (Jason Humphrey) who worked there started talking about this sport called disc golf. My mind goes “hey Gina mentioned this sport to me”. I fell in love with the sport from my very first not so good throw.
It’s never too late to start playing, right?
That’s right Jenny I was 54 when I threw my first disc.
You are one of the most stylish golfers we know, always looking sharp, and vibrant, what is your favorite gear to play disc golf in?
A smile 🙂
What is your most memorable disc golf vacation?
Hands down the 2011 Disc Golf Cruise, yes friends there was such an event.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start playing disc golf, or who just started and is new to the game?
Don’t get discouraged and remember to always, always have FUN!
If you could have an official candy of disc golf what would it be?
DOTS of course!
What are your top 3 favorite courses in Wisconsin?
I was working at a pizza place and all the guys went out to play and didn’t invite me so I went out the next day, bought my own discs and practiced my butt off so I would be able to beat those guys!
We did a little PDGA stalking (cause what good disc golf addict doesn’t) and looking back at your ratings history you had a pretty high rating at the beginning of your career. Did you play casually before playing tournaments or is it natural talent and understanding of how disc fly?
I only played casually for a few months before trying my first tournament. I was instantly addicted to the competition (I finished last), the new friendships and the whole inviting atmosphere that I found. I took practice to the extreme and would go out several times a day until I couldn’t throw anymore.
What are your top 3 favorite courses you have played in the United States?
Flip City, Shelby, MI – the course that taught me how to be a golfer and showed me the supportive network that disc golf embodies.
De Laveaga, Santa Cruz, CA – challenging and beautiful with a rich history.
Any Course, Any Town, USA – I find beauty in any course I’m on. I love seeing new shots and I believe that any and every course has the ability to teach a golfer new things.
“They” say little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Is it fairly accurate to say that most disc golf girls are made of beer and cheer and have nothing to fear?
Haha! I can definitely attest to the strong community of disc golf sisters. With all of our combined support and encouragement, we can be a part of fearlessly growing our divisions.
Speaking of beer, if you had to choose an official beer of disc golf what would you choose?
I’d go for one of the huge companies like Budweiser. The bigger endorsements the better for the game! I might not drink much of it though.
If someone were to travel to Michigan for a disc golf road trip, what are your 3 must play courses in the Mitten (Michigan)?
Flip City, Shelby, MI – a true disc golf experience where you can see and feel the love that is disc golf.
Mason County Parks, Beauty, Beast and Goliath, Ludington, MI – all the golf you can take with lots of elevation changes and views of Lake Michigan.
Toboggan, Milford, MI – extreme golf, long, challenging and a workout!
Will the Detroit Lions ever win the Super Bowl?
Probably not in my lifetime. But I don’t want to say never!
If Discraft said you could only play with 3 discs for the rest of your career on their team, which 3 discs would you choose?
Soft APX-a reliable putter
Buzz- the best mid range on the market
Crank- a driver that can handle almost any weather condition.
How is Scratch?
She is a little jealous of her human sister but she is learning that the baby is always a good place to find snacks!
You are a young disc golf mamma:) Any advice for expecting mothers in regard to playing while pregnant? Any additional advice for mom’s who play disc golf?
Playing pregnant was tough. Sometimes just walking was a challenge but I kept reading articles about how important exercise is while pregnant so what better outlet than disc golf? I played until I felt I could no longer (about 9 months) and had an easy delivery that I attribute to the regular exercise. I would never have been able to golf so much during my pregnancy, or even now, without the unending support and encouragement from my husband.
When did you first become aware of the sport of disc golf? When did you first start playing?
I first became aware of disc golf roughly in 2002. I used to walk around Maple Hill and Pyramids in my hometown of Leicester Massachusetts and watch friends play. I had not, however, seen another female throw so even as a seasoned athlete I was tentative to try. I picked up my first disc nearly 10 years later in November 2011, and it changed the course of my entire life.
As a physical education teacher what are your favorite activities to teach?
Of course I love to teach disc golf, but I also focus a lot on Team Building and Project Adventure activities. I feel this generation is slowly losing the abilities to communicate effectively, respect one another and cope with negative emotions. I try to incorporate lots activities that foster teamwork, cooperation, problem solving and critical thinking.
You are involved in a very active team event that goes all winter in the New England area, can you explain the format and give us a basics of how the New England Team Challenge works?
I will try my best to give you the Cliff’s Notes. 🙂 New England Team Challenge will be finishing its 11th season on April 9. It has grown exponentially in recent years and now the league includes 36 teams though 4 pools (A, B, C, D). Typically teams consist of 18-20 men and 1-3 women. Teams travel throughout New England and New York to compete once per month from October through April. The home team is responsible for providing a lunch & beer spread for the visiting team. Each challenge consists of two rounds; first round is singles match play (a la Player’s Cup) and second round is doubles stroke play. A win in match play is worth one point, and in the event of a push (tie), each team earns .5 point. A win in doubles stroke play is worth two points, and all ties must be played off until there is a winner. Finals takes place every year on the second Saturday of April. Each Pool has a final event that determines which teams will advance to the higher Pool next season (or determine an A Pool Champion), and teams who do not qualify are automatically relegated to the next lowest Pool.
All of this fun, winter season New England golf could not be possible without all of the countless volunteer hours by Commissioners, Team Captains and the dedicated disc golfers who play in 3+ feet of snow, freezing cold, wind, and other unimaginably miserable conditions in which we suit up and march into battle with smiles on our faces. It is so special to be part of this and I am forever grateful.
What was your first disc that you fell in love with?
Discraft Buzzz because it was the first disc I could actually throw straight.
If you could have a tee off song for the beginning of each round in a 3 round tournament what would your first round tee off song, second round tee off song, and final 9 tee off song?
1 Incubus – Make Yourself
2 The Used – Box Full Of Sharp Objects
3 Bush – Machinehead
If you could have an official beer of disc golf, what would it be?
What disc golf events are you looking forward to the most in 2016?
I am most looking forward to the first New England Women’s Tournament Series in 2016. It is a series of women’s only tournaments throughout New England & New York with an aim to continue growing women’s participation in our area. We hope this may also encourage membership into our local organization, the New England Flying disc Association (NEFA) and the PDGA. The two events in this series I am most excited for are the Women’s Global Event at Maple Hill and the USWDGC in Sabattus ME.
What advice do you have for a female who may know about disc golf but hasn’t got up the nerve to try it out yet?
The number one advice I have is to play with other women. Sure you can play with your boyfriend and his buddies, but that will more likely be discouraging than encouraging. Women are most often unable to replicate what the guys can do on the course. Sure they can help us with parts of our game, but the learning really happens when playing with and watching women.
Don’t know any women who play? Locate a women’s league. Don’t have a women’s league? Start one. Build it and they will come.
How did you discover disc golf?
When I was first introduced I was still an avid softball player. I went out one summer day with a group of friends that I worked with and I was terrible. Usually I can try almost any sport and be halfway decent so it really drove me nuts that I wasn’t very good. It hooked me though and made me want to get better and in the meantime I fell in love with the game, being outside and one with nature, the social aspect, the competition, and the community.
Backhand, Forehand or Both?
4 years ago… forehand. Now, both, definitely. I like having the option depending on the layout of the hole, the wind, etc.
How many disc golf tournaments did you play in 2015?
17 PDGA, 1 Southern National, and about a dozen local club tournaments.
You are the 2014 Rookie of the Year, was that a goal of yours or something that was coincidental to the number of events you played?
It was never a goal of mine from the get go. Only once I knew I was in contention did I make the push to get the title… which involved a LOT of traveling and tournaments.
Since the Rams are no longer the NFL team for St. Louis, would you consider becoming a Green Bay Packer fan? If not Green Bay, which NFL team will you cheer for?
I have no problem cheering on the PACKERS (Go Pack Go!) especially since my good friend it a HUGE fan however I really have been following the Seattle Seahawks for the last few years since the Rams weren’t that great anyway.
Are there any States or tournaments you haven’t played before that you are considering playing in 2016?
I realllllly want to got to Manitowoc this year for the Silver Cup around my birthday. I have never been that far up north for disc golf.
Photo courtesy of Silver Cup Pro Tour Website http://silvercupdiscgolf.com/
If you could have a spirit animal, which animal would you choose?
So I didn’t really know how to answer without just throwing something out a random for no good reason so I instead when online and found a quiz… ha. Apparently I am a deer. Surprisingly the description was spot on however…
I don’t know about you, but I have big goals for my disc golf game in 2016.
Increasing my player rating, playing the Wisconsin Disc Golf Tour, competing at Am Worlds, and having lots of fun of course!
Whether you have performance or competitive goals, or you just want to get out to some new courses this year, it’s not going to magically happen on its own.
In my experience I have found that the single biggest predictor of achieving any goal (disc golf-related or not) is the level of accountability and support I have.
When I first wanted to start playing disc golf regularly a few years ago, I was new in town and didn’t know anybody. I was really self-conscious about going to the course alone. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb on the course as I was oftentimes the only woman and a beginner to boot. I didn’t want to hold anyone up or be ‘judged’ by the more experienced players. Consequently my rounds were few and far between.
My playing frequency, skill, experience, and overall enjoyment of the game increased exponentially after I joined the Disc On! Ladies League (DOLLs), started playing tournaments with my new friends from league, and after meeting my boyfriend, traveling around to different courses each weekend with him and his friends.
I have learned so much from playing with other people (most of them better than me): proper throwing form and technique, disc flight paths, how to adjust your strategy based on the weather, selecting the proper disc for the shot, course etiquette and rules, and how to stay in the game mentally when you are having a bad round, just to name a few.
So if you’re looking to up-level your game and want someone to join you out on the course, where can you find them? Making friends can be hard at any age. Here are a few tried and tested sources from my own experience and from some of my fellow disc golfers:
Online. Disc golfers are very active online, from Facebook groups and exchange boards to Instagram accounts and more. A simple search should turn up a lot of options. The PDGA website is also an underutilized gold mine – the member database makes it easy to search for players in your area and local coordinators.
On the course. If you catch up to a group and the offer to let you play through, ask if you can join their group! Single ladies, the odds are especially in your favor 🙂 Helping someone search for a lost disc is also an easy icebreaker.
Local shop owners. If you’re fortunate to have a disc golf shop near you, the owners/employees are a great resource. They will know all about local leagues, tournaments, and course regulars to whom they’d be happy to introduce you. Plus you can strike up a conversation with the other shop customers.
Leagues. Many courses host weekly league play and are a great way to meet a lot of people in an organized setting. There are a range of options, from non-competitive women’s leagues like DOLLs, all the way up to PDGA sanctioned leagues that count toward your player rating.
Tournaments. When I was new to the sport, the idea of playing in a tournament sounded very intimidating. Luckily I was encouraged/lovingly peer-pressured into signing up for a tournament by other DOLLs members and found out that I loved it! There are multiple divisions to choose from so you are competing against players of your same gender and skill level, and you can meet people from all over the state. I’ve had the most fun at all-women tournaments like the Women’s Global Event and the Wisco Disco.
Does the idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger make you cringe? Me too, most of the time. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past couple years, it’s that disc golfers are some of the friendliest and most generous people around. Even though it’s an individual sport, there is so much camaraderie. The great thing about disc golf is that you can play with people of all skill levels and still have a good time. You’re in good company.
And finally, once you’ve found your new disc golf friends, don’t forget to pay it forward! If you come across a solo player on the course, invite them to join you. Talk to someone you haven’t met before at a tournament or the new guy or gal at league. Put up a post in your local Facebook group inviting anyone to join you for your next round. And grow the sport by inviting your non-disc golfing friends too!
What are your 2016 disc golf goals, and who is going to help you reach them?
About the author:
Casey Pennington, PDGA #74708 started playing “frisbee” golf over ten years ago when she began organizing tournaments on a homemade course at her annual family reunion. (She has since graduated to real discs and metal baskets.)
Most days you can find her taking a break from her consulting business (www.caseypennington.com) at one of the courses in Sheboygan. On weekends she loves to travel around Wisconsin for tournaments and casual rounds with friends, rain or shine or snow!
1.) Your fixation with Frisbees started not with disc golf but with ultimate Frisbee. In what year did you start playing Ultimate Frisbee? What year did you start playing disc golf?
Fall of 1986 for ultimate & late 1999 for disc golf. Technically, my sister and I used to throw a Wham-O Frisbee in our back yard for hours on end when we were pre-junior high.
2.) What are 3 simple things a new player can do on the course to improve their game?
Most of the things I would recommend to a new player to improve their game are off the course activities: play catch; throw all your discs in a big open field with different angles so you know what they do naturally, before you try to steer them; and on the course, relax & give yourself a break. We are playing disc golf, usually in lovely places, so relaxing and enjoying the round usually leads to more fun than putting pressure on oneself.
3.) Who is your favorite movie star from the 1980’s?
So many. I loved the Brat Pack – Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen…
and Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller was the smart aleck’s smart aleck.
4.) You have found yourself in a few “final 9” rounds that determine the winner of a multi-round tournament, these rounds often have a gallery and a little added pressure. What do you like to do before the start of those rounds to relax and take your mind off of those 9 holes?
I love to play a good game of catch – where I can run around a bit. I also like to hang a bit with friends I might not have seen as much during actual tournament play. I find listening to music helps, and will usually throw on some Bad Religion, Green Day, Rise Against, etc. If there is a ton of time, I try and see some of the other women’s divisions if they are still playing; there are a lot of terrific women out there on the course these days 🙂
5.) Are you a wizard? We understand if you can’t reveal this information. However based on some of the lines your throw and putts you make, we can see that you are magical.
If I am, I have yet to find my magical superpower (not for lack of trying). Though (to dork out for a second), I tend to be more of a ranger than a magic user in RPG adventures.
Sorry to disappoint, but spending 20 years throwing to a moving target through moving defenders (and being obsessive about ultimate), as well as 50-50-50 warm up drills is more to credit for that than any wizardry. (50-50-50 was where we partnered up and had to complete 50 consecutive throws of forehand, backhand and overhead. A drop or mis-throw reset the count to zero.)
6.) Whether you are a wizard or not, who is your favorite wizard?
7.) If Discraft said you could only play with 3 discs, which 3 discs would you choose?
Z 150 Flick,Glo Buzz, 150 ESP Avenger (though I would add my Crank as disc 4).
8.) If you could have an official beer of disc golf, what beer would that be?
9.) If you could choose any fictional character as your doubles partner, who would you choose?
It is a close race between Ender Wiggin and Aragorn, son of Arathorn.
10.) We (Ladies First Disc Golf) are grateful for you, and your kind soul. Who in disc golf are you thankful for?
So many people, from whom I have learned so much. Amy Dubrioullet-Cooper, for starting me on this crazy adventure in disc golf; Nancy and Mike Glass for their constant support and encouragement, as well as all of my teammates on the many teams I played on; Elliot Fu and Jordan Halpern for always being willing to throw with me;
Lisa Warner for befriending me when I was a new golfer; Des Reading, Juliana Korver, and Elaine King for being so amazing / inspirational / encouraging when I first started, and for blazing the trail for all of us following in their footsteps; Erin Oakley, Val Jenkins, and Jenny San Filippo, and so many other women who are constantly bringing more women into the game and doing all they can to encourage the growth of the women’s game; and finally, all the women with whom it has been my privilege to throw plastic.
Also, Discraft has been an amazing sponsor for me since 2003 – their plastic has been so consistent for me that it has allowed me to constantly improve my game. Pandamonium has been keeping me looking sharp since 2014.