When did you start playing disc golf?
I started playing disc sports around 2003 when I played on a recreational ultimate Frisbee team in high school. When I went to college, I played on the competitive co-ed team starting in 2005. My friends and I used to throw Frisbees around campus and use light poles and trash cans as targets. I didn’t even know disc golf existed! In 2008, one of my professors took me to the campus-owned disc golf course, and I played my first legitimate round. I wouldn’t say I was immediately hooked, but I started phasing out of ultimate and focusing all of my free time on disc golf.
Forehand or backhand or both?
I mostly throw backhand but often use forehand for putter upshots. I developed this skill from throwing an ultimate disc for years.
What are your 3 favorite discs from Innova?
If you could choose any disc golfer in the whole world to be your partner in a doubles tournament who would you choose?
I swear I’m not trying to be mushy! I would choose my life partner Shawn Sinclair. When Shawn was on tour full time, he was one of the top pros in the world! He is still a 1000+ rated golfer, but he hasn’t played a competitive round since 2009. Although we play for fun all the time, we have never partnered up for a doubles event. I know that we would have a ton of fun and not take things too seriously. I also know what I would be getting myself into and wouldn’t be nervous around him if I made a bad shot, because he witnesses my bad shots all the time!
What are your 3 favorite courses in Tennessee?
Harmon Hills in Fall Branch, TN
Cedar Hill in Madison, TN
and Victor Ashe in Knoxville, TN
You performed very well at Am Worlds in Minneapolis in 2014. What was the deciding factor when you decided to compete as a pro?
I put a lot of thought into “going pro” before I actually did it. I wanted to make sure that I felt comfortable and confident enough to play in the big leagues. I played amateur for six years, albeit I took a year off from tournaments to do a year of volunteering with AmeriCorps, and had to work my game back up when I returned to competing. After I placed second at Am Worlds, I figured it was time to move up. I had played two other Am World events prior to that and hadn’t even made it into the semi-finals. You can imagine how happy I was to not only get into the semi-finals, but to take second by only five strokes!
Moving up to pro is really a personal decision that is different for everyone. I considered how well I did locally and statewide (at the time I was living in Columbia, SC), and I had won several advanced tournaments up to that point. I knew it would take me some time to become a strong competitor in the pro field, but decided it was time to take the leap.
If you could have an official beer of disc golf what would it be?
I’m from Philadelphia, so Yuengling of course!
Prior to disc golf you played Ultimate Frisbee. Do you still play Ultimate? Was it hard to learn disc golf discs after throwing an ultimate Frisbee for years?
I haven’t played ultimate in a few years. After playing on my college team at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I played a bit recreationally in AmeriCorps in 2010-2011, and I tore my meniscus. That kind of sealed the deal for me for awhile. I played in a competitive league in the summer of 2013 when I lived in Columbia, SC, but I didn’t love it anymore.
There was a definite learning curve for me when it came to throwing golf discs. Ultimate discs require a lot more touch – if you put the kind of power on it that you’d put on a driver, it’s going to flip over every time. If you’ve thrown one ultimate Frisbee, you’ve thrown them all. When I started playing disc golf, I figured out quickly that I should learn to throw different discs for different shots/distances. It was hard – there were so many options! My drivers flew on a 45-degree angle up in the air most of the time I threw them, and I didn’t have smooth form. I’m not sure whether playing ultimate was beneficial or a detriment to my disc golf game, but I guess I’ll never know!
Is it possible to own too many Italian Greyhounds?
No way! Unfortunately, we lost our little girl Bamboo last year at 16 years old, but we have our one-year-old boys Otis and Bruno. They are quite a handful! I keep asking them if they want a little sister, but unless Shawn has a change of heart, it probably won’t happen for a couple more years. Follow me at @iggy.discgolf.life on Instagram for lots of adorable photos!
In April you will be hosting the 5th annual Ladies and Gents Mixed Doubles tournament. We hope to make it to your event in the future. Tell us what makes this event so special and why ladies and gents in the disc golf world should add it to their disc golf plans in the future?
The Ladies & Gents Mixed Doubles is my favorite day of the year! Although I live in Nashville now, I travel back to Columbia, SC to run this one-day, Throw Pink charity event that raises money for the South Carolina Cancer Alliance. This event is special to me because I lost my mom to cancer when I was 11 years old, and I am very passionate about raising awareness and money for cancer research. We have raised over $7,000 for the SC Cancer Alliance to date, thanks to all of the generous sponsors, players, and volunteers who participate each year. All of these amazing people make this event special. Players include world champions as well as first-timers and all skill levels in between.
Each year, my goal is to not only raise as much money as possible, but also to ensure that everyone has a ridiculous amount of fun. My hope is that no one leaves empty-handed. Along with a players pack, I typically have 50 CTP prizes, a ring of fire, a large raffle, and other fun side games. This year, we have some sponsors who are stepping up big time, including Smoky Mountain Discs, our title sponsor; the Columbia Sports Council, who is providing lunch for all players and volunteers; DiscStalker, who always provides a free item in our player pack; Innova Discs, who gave me an awesome sponsorship package for ordering tournament discs; and Paragon Discs, who sent me a hefty box of apparel. And how could I forget Ladies First Disc Golf! You are one of our most popular sponsors because of all of the sparkly women’s apparel you donate.
This event has been the largest, PDGA-sanctioned mixed doubles tournament in the world for three consecutive years, and I’m hoping to keep the streak going. If you’d like to be a sponsor, please email me at saraBlamberson@gmail.com