I probably threw my first disc in the spring of 2006. Tracey Lopez and Kathy Betcher would drag me to Eastern Park and would put discs in my hand, saying try this one then this one until eventually I ended up with a Millennium Orion, Innova ROC and a JK Avair (which I still putt with). In 2009 the Quad Cities got the bid for the United States Women’s Disc Golf Championships and it being the first year the Recreational division was included they (Tracey and Kathy) talked me into playing. With only one tourney under my belt I ended up winning my first tournament.
Driving, approaching or putting?What is the strongest part of your disc golf game?
Approach as of the 2017 season. It seems every year I have a good grasp on one aspect of the game whether it be putting, driving and or approach. I strive for the day my brain and body collide to have a well-rounded game. The game of disc golf has you constantly improving all aspects of the game simultaneously so you can’t just focus on one without still honing in the skills of the others.
It is a fact that you and your lovely wife Tracey are dedicated to traveling to various states to play disc golf for various reasons. What states would you like to travel to play disc golf in that you haven’t yet been to?
Oregon without a doubt. I see Val Doss always posting on Facebook about the scenery and camping up there so why not get a round in with her while visiting a gorgeous state. If you were curious Alaska would be next.
In your opinion what disc or type of disc should every disc golf lady have in her bag?
A putter!! I can’t believe how many ladies still don’t know how to use a putter. In my DOLLs group I try to promote the use of a putter. Why not-Stability. Isn’t that what every lady needs in her life?
What is your best advice for people who just started playing disc golf?
Do not give up. I know you feel intimidated but someday with practice and determination you to will be driving that far and making all those putts. And I always say, ”Any given Sunday”
If you had to name an official beer of disc golf, what would it be?
Bevel, of course. Made by, drank by and loved by disc golfers.
If you could have anyone in the whole world as a partner for a doubles round of disc golf who would it be?
Barrett White, without a doubt. If you know us you wouldn’t even question it.
You placed 2nd in the Female Advanced Masters division of the PDGA 2017 Amatuer Worlds competition, congrats we are impressed! Do your 2018 plans include competing in the 2018 Amateur Worlds competition in North Carolina?Or do you have other aspirations for 2018?
Thank you. I do not plan on attending Worlds. I have played the last two Worlds and it requires a lot of vacation time.
Tracey and I have thrown around the idea of playing more of the tournaments where our friends are. You know the tournaments that every year you say, “Gosh, that tournament looked like a lot of fun. Maybe next year I should try to make that one”. I played three Majors this year and I truly feel I missed seeing a lot of my friends. Sometime this year I hope to get my feet wet and run a tournament of my own. I hope to make it an all ladies tourney – so I hope to see some of you gals here in the Quad Cities.
I started playing waaaay back in 1983, the summer that I got married. My husband (Eric Vandenberg) loved to play catch with his friends. He always wanted to attend the Canadian National Frisbee Championships but had never found out in advance when the tournament was being held (pre-internet days). We noticed a flyer announcing the 1983 competition and went to see the competition, expecting to see freestyle, but instead when we arrived the competitors were playing disc golf. Eric was immediately excited about the discovery of a Frisbee sport that could be played solo, rather than needing a partner of similar ability. The next weekend we were out on the Island with our 110g pro models trying to putt into heavy chained baskets.
Soon after we bought “state of the art” Midnight Flyers and Ben-Wal 21cm discs. In September the new high-tech Innova Aero had arrived in Canada and we started buying these for ourselves, our family and our friends. I would certainly have quit the sport if it had not been for the Aero since my short fingers could not get a good grip on the Midnight Flyer and I was pretty much hopeless at that point. In contrast, I could get a nice grip on the Aero and it actually flew a little bit for me.
It’s too bad that there is no video of me playing during my first year. I had little arm strength, no wrist snap and there was absolutely no indication that the situation would ever improve. It is only because Eric was well and truly hooked on the sport that I continued in any fashion at all. In 1984 Eric started competing and I tagged on as a groupie, and observing the female players. The year after that I had improved enough that I felt ready to start competing myself.
Disc technology has evolved and is continuing to evolve, what are the biggest changes you have noticed?
The biggest change in disc technology was the invention by Innova of the bevel-edged disc (Eagle/Aero). A few years later Innova released the Roc which had a nice balance of stability and glide and quickly found its way into everyone’s bag (but remember that everyone’s bag contained about 4 discs at that time). The next cutting edge disc was (almost literally) the Eclipse by Discraft, which had a much sharper rim configuration than any other disc to that time. It was after the introduction of the Eclipse that the PDGA developed standards on rim configuration. Lightning had a few discs that were extremely popular including their initial release called the P-38. They subsequently made some discs in very light weights (110 – 130g) which was contrary to the trend of making discs as heavy as technical standards would allow. Players found that these light discs got more distance especially with a tailwind. Discraft had another big hit with the Cyclone, which had more glide than other discs of the time. Just recently Eric unearthed a series of articles where many top players, now sponsored by other manufacturers, listed the Cyclone as one of their key drivers. In the past 20 years driver technology has been optimized with a string of discs achieving popularity as distance records were broken (for example, Innova’s boss).
Another key turning point was the introduction of the Prodigy brand. The media splash of the product line and the sponsored team challenged the “Big 2” manufacturers. With the success of Prodigy a flurry of additional disc manufacturing companies has subsequently arisen. In the past few years there has been an increasing trend in disc manufacturing companies outside of the US.
Currently, 7 companies offer more than 40 discs and a total of 102 companies have PDGA approved discs. I could not have foreseen this proliferation of discs and manufacturing companies when I started playing long ago.
What are your 3 favorite courses in North Carolina?
I very much enjoy my home course, Valley Springs, in Durham. It has ups and downs through a pine forest with a balance of long and short holes requiring a variety of angles. There are multiple tees and a few holes also have two baskets, adding to the diversity of the course.
Photo courtesy Disc Golf Course Review
Castle Hayne in Wilmington is another wonderful course. It demands precise placement of the drive in order to have the correct angle for the next shot. When your game is “on” this course is lots of fun to play. If your accuracy is a bit off this course is intensely frustrating as you stretch to get out of trouble with a flick, an overhand or simply a pitch out.
Photo courtesy Disc Golf Course Review
If you want to have a truly enjoyable round, Glenburnie in New Bern is the place to go. The park is beautifully manicured with a mix of open and wooded holes. Alternate tees/basket placements add to the variety. At the right time of year you need to watch every step on hole 8 so you don’t step on little toads. There are lots of deuces to be had, but they can quickly turn into a bogey or worse by an inaccurate line through the woods or by the disc finding OB.
Photo courtesy Disc Golf Course Review
If you could give a new player starting out 1 tip of advice what would it be?
Throw only midrange discs. It is discouraging to see so many women (and men) playing with discs that are much too overstable for the amount of spin that the player can provide. This leads to the woman throwing every shot with a huge anhyzer in order for the driver to land in the correct spot, and as a result she never learns to throw a disc straight. By starting with a midrange you learn how to control the disc rather than adapting your throwing style to the particular disc. Once you master throwing a midrange straight, hyzer and anhyzer you are ready to start throwing a driver.
Name your favorite disc pre-2000, post 2000 and your current favorite disc.
Pre-2000 my favorite disc was the Cyclone and post-2000 it was the Avenger in X plastic (although I have tremendous fondness for many of my mid-ranges as well). Currently I am infatuated with the Orbital by MVP, although its use is limited to long turnover shots.
Your well decorated and enduring career in disc golf has allowed you to meet many women disc golfers and have a unique perspective on the growth and change of women’s disc golf. Have you noticed an increased momentum or any significant changes in women’s disc golf in the past decade?
The most significant difference in the last 10 years is the number of touring women and indeed, the fact that women can earn enough to be able to tour. In the past few years media coverage of women’s golf has also exploded, due to the support of the PDGA to film the women’s card, due to TDs asking for the same, and due to videographers taking a special interest to ensure women are given air time. This would not be happening without viewers, and it is exciting to see that it’s not just women watching women’s golf, in fact men make up the vast majority of the viewership.
(Elaine commentating and playing on the lead card last round of the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic)
When Val Doss (neé Jenkins) departed from Innova, this further sparked the conversation about equity for top women golfers. The flurry of conversation on the internet, in publications and live shows demonstrates that disc golfers (being 93% men) are keenly interested in the growth of women’s participation. The desire has not changed, but what differs is the recent intensity of conversation on the topic.
At the PDGA Fall Summit, President Justin Menickelli opened the meeting with a graph of PDGA member demographics since 2006. The men’s numbers showed accelerating increase whereas the women’s numbers grew at a very much slower pace. The PDGA Board has committed to considering the growth of female participation with every decision made. That is an unprecedented level of focus for women’s golf.
We recently found out you are involved with the Disc Golf Foundation, can you tell us a little more about your work with the Disc Golf Foundation?
I was one of the founding members of the Disc Golf Foundation (DGF), which achieved registered charity (501c3) status in 2004. At that time the PDGA passed responsibility for the newly created Matching Baskets Program to the DGF. This program requires applying Colleges to raise money for 9 baskets, obtain approval from the College administration and submit design details for review. The successful applicant is partnered with Innova, Discraft or DGA who donates the other 9 baskets. 17 new courses have been established through this program, which is ongoing.
The DGF also focused on preserving disc golf culture and history through several projects. We partnered with DGA to establish the Headrick Museum at the International Disc Golf Center in Appling, GA. A travelling disc golf history exhibit has been established and is currently residing in the Lemon Lake Flight Center in Crown Point, IN. The DGF works with the Disc Golf Hall of Fame to support donations.
Photo courtesy of PDGA
The DGF supports local clubs by allowing donors to receive a charitable giving tax receipt for eligible projects that create and/or improve local courses. If you have a local project that benefits the general public and have potential donors who would welcome the opportunity for tax credit for their donations, contact the Disc Golf Foundation via email: info@DiscGolfFoundation.orgThe Board of Directors was refreshed in 2017 and I currently participate in Board meetings as an advisor and link to the PDGA Board. There are some exciting new projects being planned for 2018 that will focus on empowering passionate people to bring the joy of disc golf to the world! Find out more by going to our website at https://www.pdga.com/DGF and liking our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DIscGolfFoundation/
If you could have an official beer (or beverage) of disc golf what would it be?
I’m not a beer drinker but I love Mike’s lemonade. You can get the original flavor in “lite” which is less sweet, has fewer calories but the same alcohol content, and that is my drink of choice after a hot sweaty summer round.
Discraft was your main sponsor for decades until this past Summer, when the decision was made by you to part ways with the team. Are you enjoying the freedom of trying out all the various choices from new manufacturers?
It has been a refreshing experience for me to be able to throw any disc I please. However it has been overwhelming since there are now more than 1000 PDGA approved discs! The first new disc I added to my bag was a 162g Starlite Wraith which was given to me by a friend. I can get more distance with the Wraith, but it needs a broad, swooping path to achieve maximum distance so I only use it on wide open holes.
Next I have added the Wave and Orbital by MVP. The Wave has become my go-to driver, flying very straight for most of its flight with a hard hyzer at the end. The Orbital is very understable but has a really long glide and acts like a disc that has been carefully beaten in over years – I’m really excited about this disc. I’m experimenting with more MVP discs since the science geek in me loves the gyroscopic design principles as well as the nomenclature of the discs. My friends have given me a further list of discs I need to try out. In reality, I have always been very slow and cautious to replace discs in my bag so it will take time for me to discover what I like amongst so many selections.
We are honored and excited to have you on our team of Ladies First Disc Golf Sparkle Sisters. What is the best way to get women competing and playing disc golf?
That is the magic question. Experience has shown that women’s leagues are very successful in supporting women who are learning the sport. Mixed leagues can also be a nurturing place for women to develop their skills but the format of the events is important. For example, straight up doubles leads to the “oh no I got partnered with the girl” effect which completely discourages women. One way to overcome this is to spot the mixed teams an appropriate number of strokes or have the woman play from shorter tees, so that getting the girl as a partner is an advantage.
It’s important to remember that competition is not for everyone.
Some women will never wish to compete, just like some men never wish to compete. Women tend to get pressured to compete much more than their male counterparts, doubtless due to overenthusiastic supporters. The goal is to get more women playing, which will encourage other women to play.
We need to attract a wider demographic of women to the sport. This is definitely starting to happen with outreach in schools, after-school centers and local communities. Support of kid’s disc golf will also ultimately result in a pipeline of girls playing the sport to bolster female numbers in the future. I would love to find a way to recruit teenagers who are already competing in individual sports where the competition opportunities dissolve after high school (except for the very elite athletes), for example track and field events. These females have the competitive urge and are comfortable in individual sports and therefore might be a source of our future disc golf population.
Are these the best ways to attract and retain female disc golfers? Perhaps not, but we will all need to use many different tactics to make women aware of the sport and teach them how to throw so that they can enjoy playing. As we all know, once you’ve caught the bug you are hooked!
I had known about disc golf since the early 90’s, had friends that played at the local Bayville Disc Golf Course in Virginia Beach. I went to a tournament in August 2013 and sat the sidelines for two days and decided on my way home, I’d give it a try.
Would you say you are more of a touch finesse player or a power crusher?Or somewhere in the middle?
I would say I am more of a touch finesse player, better at the short game than a power crusher.
What are your three favorite discs from Innova?
Gosh, I like so many but I would have to say my three top are the Tern, Sidewinder and a toss up between the Mamba and Wombat.
Going into the final round of a big tournament if you could have any song playing as you tee off, what would it be?
“Blind” by Korn. It has always been one of my favorite songs, let alone bands, with such a kick butt beat that makes me want to just go rip it up.
What is your favorite disc golf saying or slang terminology?
I have quite a few. I always try to encourage others and look for the positive when playing with new players…If they think their drive is short, I always say ”Its Forward Progress”, this helps new players stay focused on the positive side ;-). Another is “Smile at those chains and shake hands with the basket on your putt”. My last one is mainly so I don’t beat myself up but good advice for others as well…”In order to shoot consistent golf, you have to shoot consistently”. I see this happen a lot. People expect to come out once in awhile and wonder why they cant hold lines or miss those 20 ft putts. Golf to me is a muscle memory thing. The more you work that muscle, the better you are going to be.
If a placement to the basket gives you the choice of a hyzer line or anhyzer line which do you prefer?
I love anhyzer lines so that would be my preference. Unfortunately lately, I have been struggling with my turnovers, so I have been avidly working on a sidearm shot to add to my bag.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a female who just started playing disc golf?
The first bit of advice I would give a new female player as they start playing the sport is to not beat yourself up and think you are going to master the game overnight. We all start out the same with this game and the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. But above all, have FUN!!!!
What are your three favorite courses in Virginia?
Wow, now that’s tough because I have so many but I would have to say…
1) The Blockhouse Disc Golf Courses in Spotsylvania
The Blockhouse- Sunny Side Photo: DG Course Review
If you had an official beer of disc golf what would it be?
Blonde ales if I had a beer choice
or Miller Lite…
but my preferred beverage of choice are vodka sours.
You recently wrapped up the first ever Virginia Women’s Series, and put in a lot of hard work to make it happen, congratulations on the hard work! Do you think the series helped along with women’s tournaments bring more players to the course and connect ladies in the greater Virginia area?
Thank you Jenny. The series was a blast and so worth the work. I could not have done this without all the support from the Virginia Disc Golf Clubs hosting us and sponsors helping with each individual event. The feedback from the ladies that played was great and gives me high hopes for next year’s series. We had ladies of all levels and ages play in the VWDGS and quite a few ladies that had never played in a sanctioned tournament before until the series. Ladies that hadn’t played that much in recent years decided to dust off their disc and start playing again also.
My thought process behind starting the series in Virginia is to not only encourage more ladies to start playing the game but, we have a lot of ladies golfing and the divisions are very small in local tournaments. And there are a couple reasons for the smaller ladies divisions: 1.)The sport is growing so rapidly that tournaments fill up a lot faster and 2.) It is very intimidating playing in your first few sanctioned tournaments. Starting up a women’s only series gave the opportunity to women who are just starting the sport, a chance to feel more comfortable on the course and work on their nerves as well and prepare them for other sanctioned events. Having decent size divisions, watching more advanced ladies shots and learning from them, how to get out of certain situations and playing at different courses, gave the opportunity to see what kind of shots you need to have in your bag for competitive play. Having a series throughout the state allowed for other women golfers to get to know each other and have ladies to play with at their home courses. The camaraderie you gain from playing with other ladies with the same passion as you is priceless and growing the sport for that very reason is something I will continue to do.
Who introduced you to disc golf and how long have you been playing?
On September 20, 2013 my friend Tucker and my mom finally convinced me to try disc golf. Tucker was an ultimate Frisbee friend of mine who slowly but surely convinced most of our ultimate pickup group to try disc golf. It was love at first throw, despite my judgments that the sport would be boring
Eleanor & her mom on the course
Backhand or forehand?
Since I came from ultimate Frisbee, I feel pretty equally comfortable with both backhand and forehand.
The New England Team Challenge is a growing event out in your neck of the woods (no pun intended;)) do you participate in the team challenge? If so what team? What is your favorite part about the team challenge?
New England Team Challenge is so amazing! I am on the Borderland Billygoats and we actually won our division this year, the C-pool champions of the 2016-2017 season!! My favorite part is definitely the camaraderie and friendship you can build with playing in a team setting, which I hadn’t gotten as much from team sports in the past as I’ve gotten through New England Team Challenge.
If you could have an official tee off song what would it be?
Well for GBO next week, I chose “Float On” by Modest Mouse. It has a good beginning riff and a good message for my mental game.
Every bunny wants to know why bunnies make the best pets?
Hahaha Bunnies make the best pets because they have a lot more personality than most people think. They can be sassy, sweet, energetic, curious etc. Enys is really spunky yet affectionate, will lick my nose and dig at my pant legs at any moment. Penelope is very curious and sweet, has opened up a lot more over the past 2 years and gotten braver. They are inseparable too, which is really sweet to see, but they get overly excited for breakfast every morning.
If you could play with only 3 discs for the rest of your disc golf career what 3 discs would you choose?
This is probably the toughest question. Based on what I throw now and being able to have versatile options, I would pick the Westside BT Soft Swan, Dynamic Discs Fuzion Evidence, and the Westside Tournament Northman. I’m on team trilogy so of course it’s all Swedish plastic
You were one of our first customers when we launched our website in 2015, thank you. What is your favorite thing you have ordered from Ladies First Disc Golf?
Another tough question!! The original very soft purple t-shirt is incredibly comfortable and I wear it all the time, so I’d have to pick that.
Would you rather play in 25 degree snowy sunny conditions or 85 degree hot & humid conditions?
I would probably rather play in 85 degrees even if it’s humid, but I’m sure I would say the opposite in late summer
If you could have an official beer of disc golf what would it be?
I personally enjoy lighter wheat beers so I would choose Alagash White. Easy to drink on hot days and very refreshing!
You have recently started do some cool things with dying discs. May we see some examples? If someone wanted a dyed disc by Eleanor do you have them for sale or do custom dyes?
I post most of my disc dyes on Instagram (@eleanor_discbunny) and tag them all with #DyesByEleanor. Right now, I dye periodically for a local shop, The Hawks Nest, here in Massachusetts but I am always open to commissions. Sometimes people mail me discs they have an I mail them back after dyeing them. So far, it hasn’t gotten big enough to warrant creating my own stock so I usually do custom orders. It’s definitely something that is very fun for me to bring two of my hobbies together, art and disc golf.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane, what do you remember most about your first round of disc golf? Who were you with and where did you play your first round?
I was first exposed to disc golf in 2005, my friends and I used to go to a small 9 hole course that was in our neighborhood. I tried it out a couple of times, but never really played a full round. But my first ever REAL round would have to be when I bought my first set of discs in 2013, at the Delaveaga Pro Shop. My friends and I had made the trip to play Dela, but I didn’t have any of my own discs at the time, so I decided that I need to get my own (just in case I lost any of theirs). I bought a Reef, Skeeter, Sidewinder, & a Leopard. I survived all 27 holes without losing any of the 4 discs I had just purchased, sooo…I’d say it was a pretty successful first round. The Leopard is still in my bag to this day, however the rest have been sacrificed to courses all around California.
In 2016 you made it to #1 on the wait list for Am Worlds, are you going to try to play again this year in Quad Cities, IA?
As of right now I am going to try to make it out to Am Worlds. I am graduating college here in 8 weeks, and plan to be attending a lot more tournaments starting in June.
Which dairy state is superior in terms of cheese products: California or Wisconsin?
Jenny, why must you make me choose! They both have their positives, but at the end of the day…who can say no to Wisconsin Cheese Curds! I left a little bit of my heart in Wisconsin this past summer.
If you could play in a doubles tournament and choose any partner in the whole world who would you choose?
That’s a tough one…
If you could have an official beer of disc golf what would it be?
Well now that’s an easy on…my favorite beer, of course. The Deschutes Chainbreaker, White IPA. The name alone makes it ready to be an official beer of disc golf.
What is your favorite bag from Upper Park Designs? Is there a bag that you would suggest for female players?
I absolutely love The Shift by Upper Park Designs. I recommend The Shift to any and all female players, if I get the chance. It still has plenty of room to carry 15+ discs, snacks, clothes, etc. But it’s significantly smaller on the back than The Rebel, and I find it easier to carry around during my tournament play.
Use coupon code JENN on Upper Park’s website to get 10% off
What song describes your disc golf game?
One of my favorite warm up song is “The Heat by Jungle”, it has a funky beat, and always puts me in a good mood.
If you could only throw hyzers or anhyzers for the rest of your life which shot would you choose?
You have competed in the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships in 2015 & 2016 what is your favorite part of that event?
I love the team aspect of disc golf, I grew up playing team sports so being able to compete as a team is fun, and totally different than competing as an individual in Disc Golf. This event shows how knowing your teammates, and what’s in their bags is important. I personally feel that this is a great way to grow Women’s Disc Golf at a college level. We have 2 veterans going this year, myself and Bayli. Then we have 2 new girls who just started playing in January that are joining us. We are heading out to Georgia/South Carolina in just a couple weeks to defend our National Title, and hopefully bring home our 3rd consecutive win!
When was the first time you picked up a disc, and who were you with?
I first played the sport in 2003. A group of friends were making a trip from our hometown, Columbus, Ohio to Clearwater, Florida specifically to play disc golf. At the time I had never even heard of disc golf, but I decided to tag along anyway. When we arrived the first stop was at the Clearwater Disc Golf Store, where I purchased my first discs, a 162g Champion Leopard (the pearly stuff, old school), a protostar (wasn’t called that back then) DX Cheetah, a DX Eagle, a DX Spider, and a 11x Champion (CE) Aviar. The rest as they say is history, I’ve been playing ever since.
Sidenote: I really wish my dog didn’t chew up that Aviar
Do you prefer wooded technical courses, open long distance courses, or something in between?
Depends on the day, haha. No, but I prefer wooded, technical courses. I feel like they even the playing field for more players to compete.
What is your most memorable competitive disc golf round or moment?
It would have to either be the 4th round of the 2016 Amateur World Championships, or the final round of the 2016 Amateur Championships at Bowling Green. They were two of my highest rated rounds ever recorded at 945 and 939. For both of these rounds I felt everything finally coming together all at the same time. Those rounds are few and far between but you always remember them when they happen.
Photo credit: Tony Brunner
Do you think there will be a day when there is a tour for women’s disc golf tournaments that has enough stops on it with big enough payouts that touring can be a viable profession for women?
Absolutely. With more and more female-only events on schedule each year it’s only a matter of time. I feel like we, as women, need to make getting a women’s only tour a priority. We cannot continue to pay the same entry fees and spend just as much on travel as our male counterparts and only get paid, sometimes as low as, a third of the money/plastic as they do. Eventually it just doesn’t make sense financially and women will either return to playing locally, or even just casually, or worse give up the sport altogether. I certainly hope to see a tour for women only in the very near future and hope to be a part of it all.
Kristy at Disc Girls Gone Wild 2014. Disc Girls Gone Wild is one of the longest running women’s only tournaments, and a critical event in building women’s disc golf.
Forehand or Backhand?
Why not both?
If you had to provide 3 tips for someone who has been playing disc golf less than a year what would they be?
Find someone that is better than you and play with them as often as you can.
Shoot for par. If you shoot for par, the birdies won’t be far behind.
Have fun. The one thing that I have always told Miquiath (#76557), most folks that know me from tournaments know him, is that not everyone remembers who wins every tournament, but they do remember the great people that they want to play with again, and the people that they do not. Always try to be that person that people want to be on a card with.
Following tip #3 having fun with friends!
If you could have an official beer of disc golf what would it be?
Staghorn Octoberfest by New Glarus Brewing from the great state of Wisconsin, wouldn’t mind if a six pack made its way down to Ohio sometime this summer, wink wink.
We’ll deliver some Staghorn if we can Kristy!
Top 3 courses you have played?
Coyote Point DGC @ Lake Casitas, Ventura, CA:
Coyote Point photo courtesy DG Course Review
Idlewild DGC, Burlington, KY:
Idlewild photo courtesy DG Course Review
Legacy Trails DGC, Eagle Springs, NC
Legacy Trails photo courtesy of DG Course Review
Have you figured out how to get a hologram of yourself yet so you can attend all the disc golf tournaments you want?
No, but I have a team of scientists working around the clock.
Kristy’s team of scientists;)
You finished 2nd at the 2016 Amatuer Worlds in Madison, WI in the FA1 division, your 4th round you shot an impressive super hot 945 rated round, did you know your round was super hot when it was happening?
I knew it was good, it felt great, but I had no idea I was about to shoot the highest rated round of my career. As I said above it was definitely one of the most memorable rounds I’ve played to date and gave me a glance at what I know I can accomplish in the future.
BONUS: Watch Kristy in action at the final 9 of the 2016 Amateur World Championships:
What age did you start playing disc golf and how old are you currently?
I started in 2012 and I am 15
You are a very polite young lady, where do you get your good manners from?
My Mom and Dad taught me to be respectful to anybody, no matter who it is.
Hailey’s father Hart who introduced her to disc golf
If all the kittens of the world lives were on the line and you could save them by writing an essay or solving a math equation which would you rather have to do to save the kittens?
I would do both, just as long as the kittens will be safe.
You are a pretty magical and skilled disc golfer, are you a wizard?
Lol, I wish. I just practice really hard, I will never stop.
If you could have an official beverage of disc golf what would it be?
My official beverage would be a drink like Powerade, just not sugary.
Can you throw a 360 forehand and backhand?
Yes, I can. People think that a 360 forehand is impossible, but it’s not and I can do it.
If you could choose any disc golfer in the whole world to be your partner in a doubles tournament who would you choose?
I wouldn’t be able to choose between Jeremy Koling and Cale Leiviska. I have just loved to see these guys play in videos and in person.
Jeremy Koling photo via Prodigy Discs
Cale Levieska Photo via Wisconsin Disc Sports Association
What is your favorite course in Wisconsin?
My favorite course would be Rollin’ Ridge.
Hailey and her Dad Hart with the Mixed Division at Rollin’ Ridge Doubles Tournament March 2016
Hailey at the 2016 Silver Cup at Rollin’ Ridge Photo via Wisconsin Disc Sports Association
You are currently the highest rated amateur female in the state of Wisconsin, that is a great accomplishment for someone in their first year of playing competitively, congratulations on your hard work! At this time do you plan on attending Am Worlds in Iowa in 2017?
I want to play worlds, if possible, I will know if it is possible as we get closer to the event.
Any advice for other young ladies your age on how to get them playing disc golf or continuing to play disc golf?
Well, I notice there are not many youth players out there, but there are more and more coming along. My advice would be: you are playing disc golf just have fun. If you want to get serious then you need to practice, and practice, you can’t just expect to be good and not practice. Also, don’t give up right away just because someone is better than you doesn’t mean you have to give up. You must strive to get better so you can beat them later, just don’t give up.
Hailey cheering for the youngest Junior player at the Foxy Ladies Women’s Global Event in 2016
BONUS: Check out Hailey’s recent in the bag video, this girl knows her discs!
The journey to Ladies First Disc Golf all started with my Kool aid stand as a kid along with the love of games and the outdoors. From a young age, it was important to me to help others and if people were thirsty, I was ready to help with a refreshing beverage. I was there to help them quench their thirst. As a kid I also enjoyed the fun and competition of bowling, card games, softball, soccer and playing neighborhood games with the other kids on my block. All these activities shaped my love for disc golf, the outdoors, business and ultimately helping others.
Why do small businesses matter to me? Since I have been in the workforce I have worked for small businesses. I spent the first 8 years of my adult career working at a garden center, which was owned by a father and his sons. I appreciated the freedom and trust in me from this company to make decisions at such a young age. My position as assistant manager provided knowledge on sales, merchandising and being a helpful representative to the local gardeners.
Jenny as the assistant manager of the Garden Mart in 2004
I started playing disc golf tournaments in 2009 and the garden center work schedule made it difficult for me to play weekend events. I sought out a job that would allow for a better work schedule and still allow me to work with plants. In 2010 I found my dream job (and still have it) at Holland Beauty where I sell flower bulbs & plants through our two websites Holland Bulb Farms and Tulip World. Holland Beauty is a small business started 35 years ago by a Dutch man named Art, it is still owned and operated by him and his son in law (who is my boss). Holland Beauty is a small company where everyone helps out, ideas run freely and we are able to hear our customer’s needs. From this job I have learned about e-commerce, social media, customer service, and providing products and resources for people who have a hobby that is also a lifestyle.
Why women’s disc golf matters to me? I first started playing disc golf in 2008 it was me, my boyfriend (now husband) and a group of great guys who would play together. We all played in our first disc golf tournament in 2009. At this tournament there was only other woman in my division. Other events I played that year had anywhere from 3-4 women to compete with; so more than the first tournament but nowhere near the amount of men who were competing. In 2010 there were more women playing, but still a smaller amount than the male divisions. I realized that in order to get more women playing, the ladies in the area needed to be connected somehow. I created a Facebook group called the Upper Midwest Women’s Disc Golf Group. I wanted a place where women could post events they are playing in an effort to get more women at that event, and this group certainly helped with that. Creating this Facebook group was only the beginning for me.
In 2012 I formed a group called Brew City Ladies Disc Golf which was intended to be a local ladies league in Milwaukee, WI. At that same time the Brew City Ladies Disc Golf was forming a group of ladies in Appleton, WI had formed the Disc On! Ladies League (DOLLs). Our groups met up for a travel league in fall of 2012 and decided to merge our groups into one. Other women through out the state also wanted to host ladies leagues, and the DOLLS became a state wide league.
Disc On! Ladies League End of Season Party 2013
One of our goals was to have a women’s only tournament in Wisconsin, and we accomplished that goal with the Wisco Disco in August of 2014. The Wisco Disco is now successful and fun annual event in Wisconsin. Disc On! Ladies League currently has leagues in Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.
Disc On! Ladies Leagues bring great joy to the women who play in them. The ladies who participate in these leagues have a group of ladies to play casual, league and tournament rounds with. Meeting and playing with women of all different skill levels combined with my love for making people happy, is how and why Ladies First Disc Golf was formed.
In 2015 things were in a transition period at my day job selling flower bulbs and the company was scaling back to its roots and became even smaller than the team of 20 we had. During this transition period it certainly put some things into perspective for me. I have always enjoyed coming up with new business or products ideas. I started thinking about women’s disc golf and how confusing it can be to purchase discs when you are first starting out. Also, how frustrating it was for me when to trying to purchase light weight or female friendly discs either in person or online. There are certainly companies out there that carry women friendly discs, but no one was specializing in carrying an assortment of discs that were best for female players.
Apparel is an important part of Ladies First Disc Golf. Over the several years of playing tournaments I had accumulated a lot of disc golf t-shirts that were men’s sizes and just didn’t fit the right way. Or women’s shirts that were too small or not figure flattering and ended up sitting in a drawer not being worn.
I had determined that there needed to be a company that had products focused only on the women of disc golf, discs we throw, and apparel that we wear. Apparel that is not only comfortable but stylish as well.
Disc golfers like to accessorize and show their disc golf pride in any way they can. On social media I was connected with women who had talents and items they were creating like disc golf necklaces, knit goods and other accessories. Including and working with other small business owners to provide a place they can sell their hand made accessories is important for growth on all levels.
Disc golf is family to many and families support each other. Whether you are doing your part by purchasing from your favorite local disc golf shop or shopping online at your favorite disc golf website it is important to support those who are family. Disc golf is life for me, pleasing the ladies of disc golf is what I strive for every day. I look forward to serving our customers, creating beautiful items, while growing disc golf for ladies, and that is why small businesses matter to me.
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.