Fantasy sports are an excellent way for fans of any sport to connect to the professional side of the game, increase buy-in, and build a reason to follow a sport regularly. One avid disc golf follower saw a need and took it upon himself to create a fantasy disc golf platform.
We took a moment to catch up with Jonathan Van Deurzen creator of Skipace to learn a little bit more about his platform and the updates he brought to the 2019 season.
DGPT: So to start us out, how did Skipace come about?
JVD: SkipAce actually started back in 2005 when I created the website called FantasyDG.com. I developed that on the side with the little bit of web programming knowledge I picked up in college. I ran that for about three years and eventually just ran out of steam on it. Then about four years ago, I looked around, and there wasn't really any other fantasy disc golf website that was currently running. So I decided to develop one myself again. I got out my old copy of Dreamweaver and started working.
DGPT: When you started it did you plan on adding features over time? Or have the changes come about organically?
JVD: When I started redeveloping the website I immediately had a handful of ideas that I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to automate it, so I wasn't copying in the results manually every week, and I wanted to allow people to create custom leagues. But both of those features were beyond my simple programming capabilities, so last year I reached out to a local developer to help push the site to another level. And as with most things, once you start adding features, you think of more and more. And with the fantastic reception it has gotten, someone sends me a new good idea almost weekly.
DGPT: You listed in the announcement email that survivor leagues have been added. Can you tell us about how it is adjusted from the survivor league that existed last year?
JVD: Actually, the Survivor league hasn't changed from last year. It is just my favorite way to play, and I thought that it would be nice to get more people involved. It gets really difficult to keep picking one new player every week that MUST finish in the top 15. Our player base is so good that any player can almost finish outside of the top 15 any week.
DGPT: Which new feature are you most excited about?
JVD: The features that I am most excited about are the ability to create a custom league. There is so much potential to have your group of friends, club, or state tour create a league where you might actually get to pick yourself! The other great feature coming very soon is the email reminders. The season is currently 21 events, and that can be frustrating when you forget to make a pick or two — so having the email reminder will be a nice way to stay in contact with the users and keep them coming back to the site to have fun.
DGPT: How difficult was setting up the custom leagues? I believe this was a goal for last year that didn't end up happening, how excited are you to finally have this as an option?
JVD: From what my developer said, it was tricky to setup custom leagues. The more features that we create, the more we need to think about how it affects every other part of the site. We are still looking at ways to improve the custom leagues. For instance, right now we have some restrictions in place as to the number of MPO & FPO players, in the future I want to increase that. And I would like to improve the search feature for finding PDGA events. We had also looked at custom scoring per league but realized it might be too complicated to attack this year.
DGPT: Were there any features that you are adding that you hadn't thought of before/were added due to popular demands?
JVD: Right now the biggest feature that we don't have and that I get requests for all the time is the ability to copy your lineup between leagues. So, it has become a feature that is very high on the improvements list. We want to take care of a few other smaller things before we address this larger one. With all of the new custom features, it becomes a bit more complicated.
DGPT: Are there any additional features that you are hoping to add in future years?
JVD: As for additional features in future years, I would like to add a weekly head to head challenge option, much like DraftKings or FanDuel. As well as other ways to play against your friends, such as a traditional year-long fantasy football draft style league where you go against another team head to head each week. And of course, I would love to team up with someone like UDisc and work with them on a live scoring system based on actual stats. We did something like that two years ago, but I need to find a good way to automate it with them.
If you want to create your own custom league or join the open Skipace league you can travel over to Skipace.com to set up your own disc golf fantasy league. If you want to join the Disc Golf Pro Tour League go to "Join League" and type code "DGPT" to join. The Memorial Championship will be the first tournament where people can make picks, so make sure you check out the registration list and get your picks in soon!
At the end of the 2018 Disc Golf Pro Tour season the DGPT, ZÜCA, and Throw Pink announced a new initiative that would span from the 2018 Tour Championship across the 2019 season to the 2019 Tour Championship. The goal of the partnership is to raise over $5,000 to support local breast cancer awareness organizations.
How does it work? Two weeks before each event five raffle tickets will become available for purchase on the DGPT store. Those five raffle tickets will each cost $100 with one lucky winner receiving the DGPT Throw Pick ZÜCA cart.
Everyone is a winner!
Everyone who purchases a raffle ticket will receive a signed thank you card from the men's and women's final day lead card; first up, The Memorial Championship presented by Discraft. Who do you think will be on the last card?
In addition to giving away a ZÜCA cart, local Throw Pink representatives will be on-site promoting the organization and at the end of the event will be selecting the organization the $500 donation will be going to.
The Disc Golf Pro Tour is thankful for ZÜCA’s donation of carts for this initiative and the local support of Throw Pink at each event along with their guidance on where to donate the money raised. VP of Communication Seth Fendley had the following to say, “During the first raffle at the DGPT Championship, supporters shared their stories of why they were donating. The outpouring of support from the disc golf community shows how much disc golfers care about and support those around them. We look forward to watching the season unfold as support for this initiative grows.”
Jen Apy from ZÜCA added the following quote: “We admire the fact that disc golfers are incredibly generous and supportive of the communities they play in. ZÜCA is proud to partner with DGPT and Throw Pink to help the disc golf community show their support of a local Arizona organization.”
Throw Pink is both excited and has a way for you to get involved beyond the raffle ticket. Sara Nicholson with Throw Pink added: "Throw Pink is excited to partner with DGPT and ZUCA once again this year to make a difference in communities all over the US. If you're interested in making a difference in your community through the game of disc golf and you live near one of the DGPT stops please reach out to Throw Pink for ways you can join us to make a difference."
Individuals wishing to support this initiative have until the five tickets are sold. The winner of the raffle will be chosen during the men's live broadcast on the final day of the event. Make sure you are tuned in and watching to hear the five lucky raffle ticket supporters who have helped us all win!
The excitement for this Pro Tour Season is building faster and faster as the tournaments are starting. The Wintertime Open is in the books, Vegas is days away, and in less than two weeks the first drive of the 2019 Disc Golf Pro Tour will take flight at Memorial Championship presented by Discraft. In 2018, Discmania’s Year of the Shield started things off hotter than hot - Eagle McMahon won in Vegas, and the next week Simon Lizotte won in Arizona. It might have been spring in the Northern Hemisphere but the crush boys were cranking up the heat. Simon didn’t make the lead card after day one, instead, playing round two on the chase card. by day three, the second round at Fountain Hills, he was in second place – one throw behind the course record holder Paul McBeth. If Simon was at all intimidated by Paul’s presence, his fourteen under par didn’t show it that day. But even a fourteen down can’t steal the course record from McBeth’s legendary seventeen under.
Last week we brought you the first part of our Mind of Champion series spotlighting Paige Pierce, the 2018 Memorial Championship FPO winner. This time around I caught up with Simon Lizotte, the day before he left to start his tour. From the persnickety process of obtaining a professional athlete Visa to wondering what really is practice anyways, we got into all of it. Keep on scrolling to enter the Mind of a Champion!
Zach Podhorzer: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Simon. It’s been a busy offseason for disc golf: sponsor changes and new pick-ups, vlogs, pre-season workout routines, and so much more. What have you been getting into since the 2018 season ended?
Simon Lizotte: Yea a lot a lot of things have changed for me. Specifically since I’m not American. That was kind of the end of the season last year. During the USDGC/ Hall of Fame Classic, that was kind of my whole moving process, where I made officially the move to the States. November first I was allowed to go pick up my Visa, my 5-year, P1 Athlete Visa, which allows me to live and work here. So that was a huge step, the Visa, I've been waiting for that literally, three or four years now. It’s just been a long process, and as a professional disc golfer it’s not easy to be recognized by the American government as actually something that needs to be here. I was always so lucky that my dad was Canadian, so I was from birth a dual-citizenship between Canada and Germany and as a Canadian traveling to the states is as easy as it gets, I would say. Like any country in the world could get more trouble than Canada, I guess. And Canadians are allowed to stay here for six months at a time which is pretty unique. Unless you're Mexican, you can also do that, I think. But overall, just really lucky with that situation, and I was always "not officially making money" because it was prize money related which is not always guaranteed, so that was legal and I was paying taxes in Germany.
Now, everything has swapped over to America for me. My apartment is now here and I pay taxes here, and I need insurance here and all that stuff. It was a huge difference and I'm not even sure I really understand what's going on fully. Besides that big change, I've been way more active this offseason than any offseason before. A big part was picking up the vlogging camera, you were a part of two at least of those. It made me do so much more than I usually would have done. It made me drive to different courses, even different states. It made me meet a lot more people, and made me play more disc golf in general, which I think was great. I started a personal training program here which I think I did 35-40 hours of personal fitness training in the last three months. The last couple weeks have been crazy. I've literally been almost every single day to the gym. I had my final assessment just last week, and I completely blew my previous work out abilities out of any kind of comparison to the past. My trainer was blown away which how much I improved. And I’m sure - I mean I’m a lazy person at heart, I mean very intensely - so I know if I can do it anyone can do it. And if I would have had a proper diet and ate healthier and focus on that more, I could be fricking ripped right now!
All in all, I'm very proud of how the off-season training has been going and really happy on how much disc golf I played despite sometimes terrible weather conditions here. But it’s super positive and something I've been waiting for ever since I came to the states. It was always one of my main excuses on why I'm not as good as I want to be, "yea, I have to go back to Germany and all this traveling, and I can never really practice and really focus on my game because I always have to worry about my next Visa or if they’re going to let me in.” I’ve had trouble at the border many times, with the border patrol. They wouldn’t buy my story. They were like “yea, you play disc golf professionally? Where’s you’re working visa? How long are you staying and where do you live?” of course they always want to know my address, and I’m like “oh, well I live in a motor home.” It was difficult and sketchy many times. Now I just feel like everything is on a way better base level for me to compete.
ZP: You decided to sign on with Discmania yet again. No surprise there, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on all the movement between sponsors this year? Do you think it will change much if anything at all?
SL: 5 years. That’s a really tough question for me to answer. I always have a hard time understanding or imagining what little changes actually mean. like Some people are very good at envisioning what's going to happen but I don’t know if I don’t care or if I just think it’s unpredictable. I think especially right now, the sport is growing, we can’t tell where we’re gonna be in five years. Overall, with all the changes other pros did, I think it's great. I think it’s interesting. Fun to watch and fun to talk about with everyone. But what it really means, as a big change to the game, I don’t really know what that’s going to change. It’s interesting but then again I have no idea what I’m talking about.
ZP: Who does? Who does?
SL: I dunno!
ZP: Do you think that there really is any advantage to not switching manufacturers?
SL: Mmm. Being loyal to a company can seem like a positive. I personally choose to do that because I really like the team I'm in and I really believe in the team I'm in. Money would not really be a reason for me to change that.
ZP: How many years with Discmania?
SL: I first met Jussi in 2008. When Discmania was just getting started. He wanted me on Team Innova Europe, which he was also running, that was like a side branch to Discmania, so I signed with him with Innova Europe for three years I think at that time. At the end of 2012 was when we made the switch to Discmania. So it’s been now almost seven years.
ZP: That’s awesome. Did you throw a lot of Innova plastic for those years or could you throw the discmania molds?
SL: One of the main reasons Jussi wanted me to make the switch to discmania is that I would be the number one. On Innova I would be one of twenty and especially back then, 2013/ 14 I was not really known yet. It would just be really beneficial for me to be on a smaller team. For that I would be the number one the face of the company, so that was kind of the reason for the whole switch. I think as soon as we made the official switch, to being “number one”, to being the face of the company, I would have to throw exclusively Discmania. After 2008, before the switch, I was all Innova, but before that, I had mixed bags with Discraft, Latitude, stuff like that.
ZP: What about the announcement of “the year of evolution”? Will that have any influence on what you’re throwing?
ZP: Can you talk about it?
SL: I don’t know how much I can talk about it since I personally don’t even know how true my thoughts are, but yea it’s crazy to think that latitude is going to start producing discs for us.
ZP: are they going to be producing the molds that are known from Discmania or producing totally new molds?
SL: It’s gonna be completely new molds.
ZP: With all of that going on and living in a state with a real winter, what kind of practice have you been focusing on?
SL: That’s pretty unanswerable. I mean, what’s practice? I haven’t really practiced anything, I was just out there doing fun stuff, and playing rounds and meeting new people, and just playing myself through the off-season. The practice-focused thing was more physically getting in shape and mentally getting prepared for the season again. I didn’t really practice any specific throws or putting or anything.
ZP: you once told me you never practice putting. I’m still shocked by that. How did you still make 92% of your Circle 1 Putts (12th place) and 31% of your Circle 2 Putts (9th place)on the Pro Tour last year?
SL: Well, I don't know how true this is, but I personally believe that putting is at least 99% mental. I mean once you have a decent putting form you kind of know what you're doing because you've been doing it for years. I've been literally doing it for 20 years. From that point on it’s all in your head, and if you have confidence, it’s key #1, and then just a routine and believing. And having this feeling that putting is easy. Of course the less doubts you have the more successful you’ll be. And I don’t know, when I step up to a 20 or 30 footer it’s just no worries. I just don’t doubt. Why would I even think about missing? I think in the mental case I’m a bit better than most.
ZP: Have you changed your putt in the last 20 years or have you basically had the same putt?
SL: Yea, I mean not really consciously, but when I look at videos from 2014, 15, and I see myself putting, I’m like “what are you doing?!” I don’t actively try and change things because I don’t think that’s a good thing. But every now and then, just a little, little, little thing, little routine. Like in 2015, I was always putting with two putters. I always had a putter in my left hand when I was putting. Just like little things like that, that kind of changed my form over the years.
ZP: What is your practice plan for defending your title at the memorial?
SL: That’s a good question because I’m flying to Denver tomorrow morning at 5:30. So I gotta be at the airport at 4, four which is gonna suck. Then I have the Discmania warehouse opening ceremony tomorrow. Then over the weekend I’m doing a signing session, promo shoots, promo videos, vlogs, and all that stuff, so it’s gonna be super busy leading up to Vegas. I’m flying to Vegas Monday morning and practicing three courses in three days is going to be especially exhausting after having not played in a few days, since the weather here has been pretty brutal in the last week or two.
I’m trying to focus on taking it easy. Last year, for Vegas, I got some back issues early on, and I think that was caused by just throwing too much too quick without really taking it easy. So I wanna do that. And of course, Vegas is the big test for everyone to see how they got out of the offseason. It's really good courses for me, and I'm looking forward to it. Last year I made it on the lead card and that's kind of my goal again. Just to give myself a chance. And then going straight to Memorial with two days of practice with two courses and then Memorial starts on Thursday - which is always a crazy hustle. Yea I’m not really, really, at least in my mind, I’m not thinking of it as any other tournament to prepare for. I don’t know if I prepare differently than other players, but my goal is never to win, or to be top 10, my goal is more like "play well!" and I think if I play well and I'm happy with the way I played, it doesn't matter if I'm third or tenth or first, then that's just how good I am. My goal is to relax, not to stress about it and just have fun playing. Do your best and forget the rest. That's always my motto.
ZP: Between Vista and Fountain, is there one course you think you need to focus your prep on more than the other? What do you think about the changes to Vista (Making 18 hole 1 and adding a new hole 18 to finish on? Does that change even factor into how you prepare?
SL: I did hear about some changes. Hole 1 is gone. I think that’s a good change. I heard the new hole 18 is tough. I saw some Instagram videos from Anthony Barela and Adam. They were throwing on it - it’s gonna be like an actually tough hole. A hyzer and a tight landing zone with water and a path OB. But I’m not sure. It’s always hard to say if you gotta focus on one course more than the other – not really, they’re both important. Every course we play is important. A stroke is a stroke. Both those course are the two shortest courses we play all year and it's deuce or die on almost every hole.
ZP: from the research I did, you’ve played the Memorial five times and only finished off the podium once (7th place your first year in 2014). Do you credit your 2018 win to anything specific?
SL: The most honest answer I can give is luck. Things were going my way and they were not going other players way. I remember actively feeling that I was getting good breaks and I was seeing other players getting bad breaks. That’s the only difference that I notice. I was putting extremely well all weekend. I don’t know if that’s based on luck or not. I guess I was just feeling it. That was the big start to the Year of the Shield where Eagle won Vegas and I won Memorial and we were just feeling so prepared over everyone else and I think that also helped a lot.
ZP: last year you threw a smoking hot, 1096 rated, 42 at Fountain Hills in round 3. Such a great round to watch. I noticed that while other players on the card are switching between a lot of discs you’re staying with that green C-line PD2 and your beautiful FD3 – Anna. What’s your thinking behind sticking to just a couple discs on a course like Fountain? Will those discs be making a return to your bag this season?
SL: I just watched yesterday, there’s a new trailer for Frozen 2. It looked weird, I was more confused than excited. Like they were fighting with swords and crap and it looked a bit darker than the first one. But anyway, back to the question. I'm pretty sure I don't have that PD2. I think I lost it somewhere but of course, I have a similar one and those courses are famous for being hyzer festivals. So FD3 is our overstable fairway driver and PD2 our over-stable distance driver. There's really no need for anything else other than those two I think. One is a speed twelve, the other is a speed nine I think, so that covers all the distances. And I've always, always been a player that doesn't use a lot of different molds, I like switching up the speed and angles I throw, that just feels more natural and comfortable and I definitely still have the Anna disc in my bag. Since I'm leaving tomorrow I'm packing up today, so I've only been using my off-season bag, the Discmania Jetpack, so I only carried twelve or thirteen discs in that, and now I’m going back to twenty, so it’s gonna be fun to sit down and build my bag for the year. I haven’t thought about it too much.
ZP: Will you get to go into the warehouse and pick out everything you want?
SL: Well, I have my stack here in my closet, and for now, I'm just going to go through that. I've never been to the Discmania warehouse yet, but I think it’s pretty ready. I might pick up some discs if I find things I need but so far I believe I have everything I need for now.
ZP: Any new molds making the bag for the 2019 season?
SL: I don't think so. Well, next Monday, my new signature disc is coming out, the Skygod II, and that's going to be on a swirly S-line P2. So that's going to go in the bag instead of the C-Line P2.
ZP: Do you find a big difference in the two plastics for that mold?
SL: The s-line is a bit grippier, it’s softer. Flightwise they're very similar. I mean they're the same disc. C-line and S-line are really not that different, except maybe slight changes depending on which run you get. Overall it just felt softer and grippier, and a lot better in colder conditions because throwing my C-Line, it's a bit slippier. Saturday or Sunday we’ll drop the video and Monday the disc will be released.
ZP: After round three you took a two-throw lead headed into round 4. Sexton was 6 back and Conrad was 7 back. Did it feel like just you and Eagle were battling? Or were you worried about the rest of the card at any point?
SL: It was such a weird feeling round mentally with Eagle because for some reason it felt like Eagle wanted me to win. It was super weird, we never really talked about it, but I could see Eagle making shots and mistakes that he would never make if he was really trying to win. He kind of played it lose and after the tournament, he came up to me and said he's happy I won, and he knew I was going to win from the start. It was kind of like I was playing against a friend who wanted me to win. It was really weird, of course, we're all still professionals, we do our best no matter who we're playing, but we both had this feeling that I was going to win.
Of course, Nate Sexton charged at some point. After eleven or twelve holes, he hadn’t had a par yet, or something like that. Six or seven birdies in a row or something crazy like that. He was just making no mistakes but he missed some shorter putts along the line, and he threw OB on fifteen. I remember exactly the feeling, I mean him and Eagle were tied or almost tied at some point. I wasn’t too worried, all those holes are gettable and not many of those holes there can have a lot of huge stroke swings. I would have had to make a series of mistakes for Nate to catch me. So it was pretty much a two-man race for me and we both already decided I was going to win. It was weird.
ZP: With the Pro Tour only weeks away, care to make any predictions for the Memorial? Any predictions you want to make, Paige Pierce said Kevin Jones is gonna win MPO…
ZP: And she’s gonna park 25% or more of her shots. She went 21% last year.
SL: I’ll say Catrina Allen is going to win FPO.
ZP: Good choice. Do you want to know your stats from the memorial?
SL: I don’t know I suck at predictions honestly.
ZP: You threw three total bogeys across the whole tournament.
SL: That doesn't sound good. I want zero bogeys.
ZP: Okay, what do you think, Catrina Allen wins FPO and you get zero bogeys?
What more is there to say? The bogey-free round is an elusive critter for most, a bogey-free tournament is a whole other level of a beast. But if there is anyone who can do it on these courses I’d say Simon Lizotte is the best pick. With the “hyzer festival” the Memorial is you might even say it’s as easy as playing lawn darts, but something tells me this master of the flying disc could do a whole lot better with a PD2 and it’d be a whole lot less dangerous. I can’t wait to see who’s predictions are right and which of our spotlight pros for this event will be able to defend their titles. Until then though get out there and play, and when the sun goes down get ready to watch some disc golf because the 2019 Pro Tour is all but officially here!
Don't forget to follow @Simon_Lizotte on instagram and his youtube channel here.
This article written by Staff Editor and Writer Zach Podhorzer. All photography credit to Alyssa Van Lanen.
This sport we love, disc golf, is flourishing. We are nowhere close to reaching a cultural saturation point where our community stops growing. Every year, more people start playing and once people start throwing, in my opinion, you’d be hard press to find someone who just stopped playing altogether. It’s a sport that you can immerse yourself in or just dabble, if it’s fun for you, then it’s right for you. But, throughout the history of our sport, it’s often been mostly his story. By which, I mean no disrespect to the legendary women in our sport – quite the contrary, I think your accomplishments deserve more accolade and attention than they’ve received. Whether you’re out for a casual round, at your local C-Tier or right on up to the biggest stops of the year, you’re likely to run into mostly men. Whether anecdotally or by the numbers, the fact remains: disc golf is a male-dominated sport. But it doesn’t have to be.
So amidst all this growth for our whole community, we here at the Pro Tour are bowled over with excitement to see how much the women’s fields are growing at our events this year. Last year people, across numerous teams, poured hard work and love into growing the women’s disc golf community – Danielle Charlier, Addy Maxwell, Becca Kephard and the PDGA. Our sincere hope was those investments would yield returns in the form of more women at every event. After looking at the player registration for the first few Pro Tour events I think it’s safe to say we owe a tremendous amount of thanks to the people mentioned above, all of the women playing on the tour, and so many more, it worked.
For comparison’s sake: In 2018 the memorial had 26 women, in 2019 it will be 30. Four players may not seem like a lot but that’s an entire extra card in a field that only had six cards last year. At the 2018 Waco Annual Charity Open there were 16 players, only four cards, in 2019 the field is increasing by 50% at least with 24 women registered and two more on the waitlist now. The Jonesboro Open registration capped at 15 spots last year and this year. That cap had to be increased and the registration has almost doubled to 27 for this year. This growth in the women’s division lines up perfectly with the growth of our media plan and coverage of FPO.
Last year, for the hour before the live stream would start each evening, you could catch all of the women’s lead card shot-by-shot action. This year we will be bringing two camera live coverage of the women’s lead card as well as additional play from chase cards so we don’t miss a beat when someone is making a charge for the top. We will also have a next day edited rounds with the full complement of throw, catch, and slow-motion camera operators.
All that to say, the 2019 Pro Tour is gearing up to be the most competitive it’s ever been and we think it’s important that you get a chance to see all of it. We owe a huge thanks to the PDGA for all of their efforts to grow the women’s game, particular their support with the Women’s Initiative Grant. Without them these steps would not be possible. We really think you’ll love the increased coverage that we are giving the women’s game. Lastly, this feels like it should go without saying, but if you are a woman who throws and you’re ready to challenge some of the hardest and most iconic courses in the country, we want you on the tour. So when we come through your neck of the woods make sure you make it out to watch what promises to be a battle of champions every time.
This article written by Staff Editor & Writer Zach Podhorzer. All photo credit to Alyssa Van Lanen.
In just a couple of days, our beloved touring pros will be taking back to the same course for the first time since last year. In a few weeks the 2019 Disc Golf Pro Tour will officially kick off at the at the Memorial Championship presented by Discraft. The disc golf scene has never been bigger: off-season routines are all over social media, vans are getting tricked out beyond belief, and it seems like almost everyone has changed sponsors and every sponsor has picked up a number of new names. I was lucky enough to catch up with a contemporary legend this week to see how she is preparing to defend her title at the first pro tour stop.
That’s right, we’re talking with Paige Pierce, four time World Champion, three-time US Champion, the 2017 Pro Tour Champion, and most relevant to this article she’s walked away victorious from six out of her eight total showings at the Memorial. That’s a whopping 75% win rate. This year we want to bring you not only more of the action on the course but more of the story that brings our players to each event and how they prepare. I’ll be interviewing the champions of every 2018 Pro Tour event to get a look inside the mind of a champion. Let’s dive into it.
Zach Podhorzer (ZP): Can you start by tell me a little bit about the off-season? You’ve got a ton of projects going on right now.
Paige Pierce (PP): As soon as the season ended I started traveling back home, but Alyssa Van Lanen and I did a new series called Disc Golf Tourist. So we made a trip to on the way home and did an episode there. I spent a couple weeks at home with the fam, you know, visiting everyone I miss while I’m on the road. Then I went to Europe for a month with Alyssa and did another Disc Golf Tourist trip. This time was a little bit different, people paid to be on a road trip with us. Essentially, they had an option where they could pay to come with us. It included everything, all their meals, all the transportation between the various stops, lodging, everything like that. They had to fly there. Within these nine days, all these things were included. I thought it was cool because it’s like how we travel year round on tour. This allowed them the opportunity to join and do it with us.
ZP: How many people came with you all?
PP: Fifteen. There were nine-day, five-day, and three-day options. We’re definitely going to do it again. After Europe I came home to Kansas for a while then I left Emporia and I headed to Nashville, and I started working on my van a little bit, a couple minor adjustments that seem small but their gonna be huge. You know, after living in it for a year you’re like I need this, I need this. I worked on the van and did a lot a lot of field work and putting. Now I got to Dallas yesterday and I’ll be here for a week before I head to Vegas.
ZP: So Vegas will be your first tournament of the season?
PP: Yes. Vegas is the one that kicks it off, for sure.
ZP: How are you feeling about that?
PP: Good, I'm excited, it's not really hard, you know, you just have to stay mentally ready. Let me clarify that. The shots that are called for aren't difficult. There's not a lot of navigating or shaping of shots. You just have to throw it and then finish the hole out. So it's more of a mental thing, which I feel ready for. It can be hard to stay focused but it also can keep you really in it. If you throw one really good, you throw the next one good, you're like "alright there it is. I just gotta keep doing it."
ZP: I saw your announcement of Nice Line. I think with all the media that’s been going on to see something coming out that is focusing on the FPO game is really important. Even though there’s lots of media out there, it often feels like it’s MPO first. It’s great you’re bringing this piece of the game - following someone into the woods and watching their shot. That’s part of why I play too. it’s really fun to see how everyone is imagining their throws.
PP: Like you said, it's super fun to watch, I've been doing it for years and years. You know, maybe in the beginning, in 2011 or 12, it was like "what are you doing right behind me?" now it would be weird if I didn't. Now it's just a very common thing and we talk about it afterward. I watched Kona throw this shot last year at Worlds at Brewster, and she came out of the woods and we high-fived like normal. The rest of the round I was thinking, "people need to see that shot. That shot was amazing." It’s gonna get lost in the footage, because you know the round is 20, 25 minutes long, what if I just videoed that and had her talk about it on camera after the round? So I asked her "hey, would you be down to do that?" and she said yes. I started asking a bunch of my other competitors, “hey, would you be down to talk to the camera after the round?” and all of them said “yes”, so I was like “alright I’m doing this!”
ZP: With all of that going on what kind of practice routine are you fitting in?
PP: I practiced before I left for Europe quite a bit, but on that trip, I didn't bring my discs with me, I brought my third string discs with the intention of giving them away at the end. Just to get some Paige Pierce gear in their hands, just share the love, you know. Now: mostly fieldwork, I might go throw today at a course but I don't really keep score when I’m practicing so it doesn’t really matter. I just need to throw and make sure my timing’s right and my mechanics feel good but that’s just more of freshening up.
Practice for me is making sure I know all my discs on every angle and every power percentage. Just re-familiarize myself with my discs. I’ll do putters and mids one day, and then fairway drivers, and then drivers. On each one of those days I say, “okay let me throw this as 50% on a hyzer, 50% flat, 50% anhyzer and then 75%, and so on”. Because you never know what shot you’re going to be faced with. I think that’s something that’s super intriguing about golf and disc golf - you're never faced with the same shot. So it's a lot about adapting and improvising. I know I can never be fully prepared - none of us can - for what we're going to face.
ZP: How long do you spend before an event getting ready at the course? What about at the Memorial?
PP: At Memorial, I want at least two days, I don’t want to play more than two rounds in a day if I have to. Only really one round a day for practice. I’d like to have three days, just to be safe. I'll play both courses once for sure, and then depending on which one I feel I need a little more work on then I’ll go back to that one.
ZP: Which do you think that might be?
PP: Typically, it's Vista, because Fountain is pretty straightforward - stay in bounds on the front nine and on the back nine go for birdies. Vista has a little bit more trouble to get in if you're off. I just need to make sure I throw the correct choices there that don't have me getting into trouble off the fairways.
ZP: You’ve been talking about timing today, I’ve seen your posts emphasizing timing, what do you do to practice timing?
PP: Just repetition over and over and over. A lot of times I won’t even have a disc in my hand but I’m just making sure that my leg comes through at the same time that my arm does. My foot, my hip, and my elbow should all be hitting their front most point at the same time, and then my hips open. So on your pull through, your hips are just moving sideways, they’re not opening. They don’t open until after the disc is released. A lot of people have a misconception about that, and they start opening their hips and in turn your arm opens and it causes a big room for error as far as your release point.
ZP: That is great advice. You have quite the history at the memorial, correct me if I’m wrong but I think it looks something like this: in 2011, your first Memorial, you win; 2012 – you take 3rd behind Val Jenkins and Catrina Allen; from 2013-2015 you win back-to-back-to-back; in 2016 you placed 2nd behind Catrina; and in 2017 and 2018 you brought home wins. Eight times, 6 wins, and 2 podium finishes - And most of your wins are by a handful of throws. In 2018 you threw the hot round (or tied for it) every day. How are you feeling about your chances in 2019?
PP: I mean the courses haven't really changed, I saw the order changed a little bit, but for the most part we're playing the same kind of course. I think that's really the common denominator in these types of things, well, me and the course. I play well there and that's not really going to change this year. I feel good about myself there. So we’ll see who else feels good about that course too.
ZP: With all that history, is there a year, or a round, or even a single hole that stands out as really defining the event for you?
PP: Yea. in 2015, Ken Climo was there and for two rounds I was beating him. I was beating the entire Master's field. After the third round it didn't hold still, but for two rounds I was beating the best player to ever play the game. It was really memorable for me.
ZP: That’s a great story. The courses at the Memorial are known for more space to air out the disc and power can be a big separator. Do you think 2019 will be the season where we see more of the women’s field catch up to your drives?
PP: It's really hard to say definitively because I haven't been with any FPO players during the off-season. It's hard to imagine that I would be at a disadvantage now when it comes to power. It's been a constant that my disc is the farthest down the fairway. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it requires something in between a jump putt and an upshot. It puts me in this weird little realm of a shot, but for the most part, it does really feel like an advantage. Like I said, I don't really know, but I feel like in 2019 it will be the same story.
ZP: Do you think that year might not be too far off? With folks like Hailey King throwing +400 ft from what I've heard?
PP: Yea, her backhand is close, but it's not quite there, but her sidearm – she's throwing a Zone sidearm 300 ft on a hyzer, it’s crazy. Her sidearm power is unparalleled. Then again, she’s not throwing those shots off the tee a whole lot. Definitely sometimes, when it’s necessary, but I think it’s more common to be more of a backhand player until the sidearm is needed. So I think in a couple years, for sure, if she already has that power. It’s not necessarily about the power that you have either, it’s about how you use your body and she's figured out how to do that with sidearm. If she can just mirror that into her backhand you know she'll definitely be one to compete with within a few years for distance.
ZP: In 2018, during round 4 you threw almost as many bogeys as you did in the three previous rounds and never threw a par on the back 9 (bogeys and birdies only) even with a “comfortable” double digits lead does a roller coaster like that get the emotions going?
PP: Yes, because most of the time I’m trying to shoot par golf and if a birdie comes I’m stoked, but my goal is just par golf. Bogey’s are definitely not good, especially out at Memorial. There’s four rounds, so honestly, I really shouldn’t be getting more than four, maybe eight bogeys at most. Two a round and I can justify eight. If it’s more than eight then it’s going to be a little bit disappointing. I’m being honest and it’s not supposed to be arrogant, it’s just not that hard of a course. But, when you’re seeing the water at Fountain it gives you this added factor of mental hesitation. If any of those holes didn’t have water I’d be landing in the circle all the time. We all would. When you see that water, it just tweaks your brain a little bit. I hope to overcome that this year, and I definitely hope to get more pars than bogeys.
In 2018 Paige won the Memorial Championship presented by Discraft by a cushy 11 throws. There wasn’t a single round of the tournament where Paige didn’t play the best round of the day – on a couple of days the field mustered at least one round that tied her. To really round out the numbers, in her sixth win of eight showings at the Memorial she lead the field in six of eight stats. Falling short of top honors in only Circle 1 Putts and Scramble. You can learn a lot by comparing a players performance at one event to their performance over the season. Especially when you look at the first event of the Pro Tour you can see the trends of not only their game but also how the courses change as we move from the Southwest, through the Northwest and then all the way across the country.
ZP: Comparing you memorial stats to your season stats (DGPT) you were crushing it from the tee pad but struggling on the green. You also made 33% of your circle two putts. Is that just a product of the course or was something really clicking? Any other patterns standout?
PP: So I gotta get better at scrambling and Circle 1 Putts! The circle two putts are definitely a product of the course. The greens are wide open and the basket is right there. It's hard for me to comprehend that 10 other people putted better than me last year though. I know had a little section of the season where I was struggling, but ten people putting better than me? It's hard to think that. So that's definitely motivating to look at right now.
And scrambling, I can see that. There's a lot of time when I'm in the rough that I just pitch out, and try to just take it for what it is. Recently, I've been told I need to stop doing that and at least try to progress down the fairway. I ‘m going to be trying to do that a bit more this year. And then I'm first in every other category. Fairway hits I’m kinda surprised on. Sometimes I feel like “man I didn’t even land on the fairway today” so I’m kinda surprised at that, but I’ll take it. Other than that, I just really, really, really want to get my putting up. That’s pretty much what I’m summing up from looking at this.
ZP: Sounds like the right strategy. I want to turn to a little bit of a different topic now. I remember once hearing you say that you liked the gold lines at maple hill better than the ones the women were playing. In 2018 there was a couple handfuls of shorter tees for FPO at the memorial between the two courses. What are your thoughts on women’s tees in this new season?
PP: This is something Steve Dodge and I talk about a lot. I really enjoy him as a tour manager because he makes decisions based on what he really believes, and I think every human should do that. He’s also really receptive to feedback so I make sure to talk to him every time: “Steve, come on, why is this one short?” Because back in the day, before the Pro Tour, Steve was only the Tournament Director of Maple Hill. Back in those days we didn’t have women’s tees. Every year since my first year at maple hill we’ve had more and more women’s tees. We started out playing none and a couple of years later we played three short tees, then five short tees, and now we're playing something like eight or nine short tees.
For me, it’s very frustrating, probably the most frustrating, thing about our sport right now. Not because it's short but because it's less challenging. Since that first time I played maple hill I know I've gotten leaps and bounds better as an athlete yet now we're playing easier holes. Unfortunately, this is happening at almost every tournament. I don't see why our shots are digressing. I really dislike that so, I make sure to voice my concerns to Steve.
So far, it hasn't really been overruled because I think there are quite a few women who would prefer shorter tees, so I think I'm in the minority, I'm also trying to speak to those competitors I know are voting for them and ask “why? Do you not want to be challenged?”. Sarah Hokom is one of the ones who's very adamant about short tees or ladies tees and we had a two-hour conversation at Hall of Fame at the end of the year last year. It was nice to get her feedback and hear where her brain is at on the topic. Unfortunately, it didn't sway my opinion. I'm still very strongly in favor of the more challenging holes. I want to get better and that's how I'm going to do it, by playing those harder holes and learning that skill.
ZP: Have you even played all of Maple Hill Golds yet?
PP: Oh. I’ve never thrown 14 gold, that’s semi-new. I went up and looked at it for the first time. When we go from 13’s basket to 14’s tee ,it's right there for us. So I’d never even been up there, and I was like ohhh. It looks fun! I don’t know, I just wish we played the long tees. That one, I can see, for sure we should play the ladies’ tee. A lot of time could be lost losing discs in the water or looking for discs on the other side. I think there's a certain time and place for it. I'm never going to say I don't want any women's tees because I do know there's an appropriate time for it, but I do think a lot of the ones we are playing aren't necessary.
ZP: I’d like to see the women’s game go back the direction it came from. I’ve never seen a course designed any way besides the biggest layout being “the layout” and all the other tees are added on.
PP: There’s a really good course that was specifically designed for FPO, it’s called Camden II, it’s in Illinois I think. It’s a really, really good - in my mind perfect - women’s course. It’s not super short, there are par threes and three-and-halfs through the woods. Great distance and really nice shapes.
ZP: That’s so cool. I didn’t know about that course, I’d love to check that out. So before we wrap up here, I have to ask, got any predictions for this year’s Memorial?
PP: Kevin Jones. And I'll go 25% parked. I feel good about my discs. I know exactly what they're doing when they're leaving my hand, so it's just releasing them correctly and that's an easier goal to obtain. But I mean what is parked though? Inside that little bullseye?
ZP: Yea. 11 feet.
PP: Oh. Okay. Alright. That’s gonna be a little bit more challenging. It's different though, you know, people's definition of parked are all over the place. Someone's like, “oh I parked it!” and you're like, "cool! nice birdie.” and they're like, “oh no, I missed the putt." I was 24th in putting last year, this year I’m going to be in the top 3 for sure.
My deepest gratitude to Paige for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk. We covered so much, from everything she’s been working on during the offseason to equity between the women’s game and men’s to predictions for this year’s Memorial. I can’t wait to see it all unfold in Arizona at the end of the month. And if this just wasn’t enough Paige Pierce for you, don’t you worry, we’ve got three more pre-tournament mind of a champion interviews with her coming this season so make sure you keep checking back for more. Don’t forget to follow Paige just about everywhere She’s on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @PPierce29190 and you can find her on her YouTube channel and her Disc Golf Tourist series with Alyssa Van Lanen on her channel. Trust me, all the content you’ll find is well worth the time to check it out.
You don’t want to miss any of our coverage of the 2019 Memorial Championship Presented by Discraft. So follow this link to our watch page to find out where, when, and how you can tune in. Until then, don’t let winter keep you indoors, get out and play!
This article written by Staff Editor and Writer Zach Podhorzer. All photography credit thanks to Alyssa Van Lanen.
The 2019 season is quickly approaching. During the off-season, the Disc Golf Pro Tour has been working on several items which will help bring a consistent feel across every stop on the Pro Tour. This week we released the completed Memorial Championship caddy books (Vista Sample) which feature our new graphics standard, which will be on display all season.
The Memorial caddy book is our first example of the new, consistent, hole branding across tee signs, caddy books, virtual player's meetings and live and edited video graphics which will be used across all Pro Tour events. To create this consistency we brought together our long-term designer Dustin Juliano, Live & Edited Graphics Designer Chris Lundquist, and Motion Graphics Designer Kraig Stenzel to ensure the hole graphics would look good across all formats.
The process started with Dustin, who was asked to create consistent, accurate, and informative tee signs for the entire Pro Tour season. What initially started as a project to make sure all tee signs looked the same on tour quickly expanded to other aspects of the tour as well. With the tee signs completed, it made sense to shift those images directly into the caddy book, ensuring the tee signs and caddy books not only match in how the rules read but, with the exception of a notes field, look identical. By creating these consistencies, players will no longer arrive at a hole and see a tee sign which communicates information that is different from that of the caddy book (something which happens when courses are in tournament layouts).
Dustin Juliano said, "I was obviously very excited about this, and have thoroughly enjoyed making the signage for this year‘s Memorial Championship. I look forward to getting to know the rest of the venues in my own way as the season goes along. It’s also inspiring to have the opportunity to be working with such a great team of creative minds and to have my artwork used by the staff in so many different ways. It will be fun to see these signs and maps scattered all over the Pro Tour media outlets in 2019, and I hope it gives the players and spectators a much more informed and detailed look at these great courses we have on tour."
However, the project did not stop there. With consistent, branded hole maps created we could now transfer those designs directly to the video graphics for the tour. Viewers at home will be able to see the same hole maps the players see on the course, albeit in an animated form. Dustin collaborated with two new team members who focus primarily on the video side, Motion Graphics Designer Kraig Stenzel and Live & Edited Graphics Designer Chris Lundquist.
The whole team has been working tirelessly this off season, so I consider myself lucky to have gotten to talk with all of them about this project. Kraig, ever-passionate about the viewer experience, had the following to say, "Part of our goal in creating the graphics package we've built is to provide as much interesting and relevant information to the viewer as possible. Including the maps from the course brings a new perspective to the coverage and helps illustrate the different possibilities for approaching each hole. Working with Dustin, I was able to access the raw files for the artwork and seamlessly integrate the maps into our motion graphics." Having watched disc golf for years, I'm thrilled to be seeing the incorporation of more, and clearer, information - it really helps me imagine what it might really be like to stare down the epic fairways of the most beautiful and challenging layouts in the country.
After the maps were brought in to our video graphics we looked to Chris for his knowledge and experience with how graphics these elements interact with the viewing experience and he recommended a few simplifications to the maps. We integrated the bulk of the tee sign information into live overlays, allowing the maps to be shown without anything in the way. With those elements built into the live coverage, Chris can turn right around and produce high quality next day shot-by-shot coverage. And if you haven't heard yet, we're not only covering the lead cards in MPO and FPO live and next day, but but for next day coverage you'll also see the MPO chase card as well and highlights from a rapidly growing field of FPO chase cards.
We're not only excited for the start of the 2019 season but we are also excited to keep telling you more about the new look of the Pro Tour. Our dedication to building a professional tour for our growing sport goes beyond the maps and graphics though. When players sign up or sponsors invest, we want to provide them clarity and consistency as they travel to each tour stop and see the same maps and caddy books guiding them through their rounds. You should know what you're getting from a Pro Tour event, no matter where it is. Fortunately those benefits aren't exclusive to the players, using the graphics in our productions will create an enhanced viewing opportunity at home getting you as close to the fairways and greens as we can. Though nothing beats catching a Pro Tour event live to really take in all the action that goes down in a single day, let alone an entire weekend.
We hope you are as excited for the 2019 Pro Tour Season as we are. Keep checking back as we will continue announcing more innovations coming to the Pro Tour as it draws closer and closer with every day!
2019 is set to be the biggest year yet for disc golf media. The DGPT is excited to offer more content than ever, providing the growing legions of fans with many opportunities to watch, and providing commercial media teams with the ability to be involved at all Pro Tour events. The DGPT is happy to provide more information about how media coverage will be curated and created during the 2019 season.
2019 Media Team & Technology
During the off-season, the DGPT has worked hard to improve the hardware and software we use to help reach the current standards set for post-production videos and to improve the quality of our live disc golf broadcast. We will be using professional equipment, motion graphics, encoding software, and live broadcast editors to produce a high-quality broadcast. The media operation is being coordinated by our Technical Director to create an improved and engaging live broadcast. Our live broadcast will be capable of transmitting 1080p/60fps. We are confident that the efficiencies created by our new media team structure and technology will allow us to create high-quality disc golf media right out of the gate.
The DGPT media team for 2019 has significant experience both inside and outside of the sport. We look forward to introducing team members in the run-up to and during the season. The camera operators and editors bring years of professional experience in the editing industry along with an understanding and enjoyment of the sport. We will use three editors (rough, motion, and finish) and three camera operators per card (throw, catch, and artistic).
2019 Media Opportunities & Policies
The Pro Tour is dedicated to providing valuable opportunities for media teams to attend and cover each event on the Pro Tour. Each Commercial Media Team will have an opportunity to set their own feature card on day one and pick a card to cover on subsequent days.
After the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Tour created a new Media Policy to protect our relationships with the PDGA, Title Sponsors, Events and the DGPT brand. The Tour also engaged in negotiations with existing media teams offering coverage rights for MPO 1, MPO 2, and FPO 1. While these lengthy negotiations did not result in agreements, we are excited to welcome many media teams to DGPT events in other capacities throughout the 2019 season while we develop and improve content with the DGPT Team.
Click to review our 2019 Media Policy Agreement & Opportunities document and visit DGPT.com to read more about Title Sponsor Rights and to fill out a Media Access Request for the 2019 season!
As we look toward the 2019 season we took a moment to speak with the TD of each Pro Tour event to learn a little bit more about what makes the event special. Read below to see what San Francisco Open TD Sean Jack has to say about the San Francisco, CA event.
How old is the event?
2018 was our inaugural event.
Did you imagine the event being one of the premier events in the world?
Absolutely, from the start. That was the vision expressed by Team SFO at our first meeting. The Bay Area has a storied history in disc golf but without a modern premier pro-centric event (Santa Cruz is not in the “Bay Area”). The installation of the course at Gleneagles paired with our relationship with Steve/DGPT provided us with a great start. However, it took excellent vision and hard work by a talented team to execute a professional event in our first year.
What makes your event unique (course, atmosphere, side-events)?
Gleneagles DGC is a championship caliber course with sweeping views of the Bay Area, massive elevation changes, and unique spectator experience. Steve Dodge has always been an inspiration for me as a TD. I competed at the Vibram Open on several different occasions. While the golf is great, the games and festival atmosphere made it an unforgettable experience. The 2018 SFO included 8 days of activity in addition to the 3-day competition: doubles, putting comp, Kids Disc Golf, $20k ace challenge, freestyle exhibition, drone racing, and more.
Are there any new extras (off-site or on-site events) or changes to the event for 2019?
We are looking to bring in a professional DJ from Amsterdam to MC the $20k ace challenge. He has a weekly show called Dirty Disco Radio that many of our San Francisco Club members listen to on the course. We have donated to his cause and even sent him discs. He is now a big fan of our club and disc golfers. He even gave a shoutout on one of his episodes where he called the show “Dirty Disc Golf Radio”. We also will focus more on engaging with the local youth community and Bay Area disc sports (outside of disc golf).
On the sponsorship side, we are always looking for opportunities to partner with businesses outside of the industry. As such, we are excited to announce that the 2019 SFO will be the first premier event ever to have a presenting sponsor in the cannabis industry. Nailing down “AbsoluteXtracts presents the San Francisco Open driven by Innova” was not easy.
Team SFO, the DGPT, AbsoluteXtracts, and Innova all worked together in good faith to make sure everyone’s concerns were addressed. This required complete transparency with all involved parties. We are grateful for the patience and flexibility of everyone involved. As most TDs know, it’s challenging to secure non-endemic sponsors and this industry could be a great source of support for us in the future.
Are there any changes to the MPO course?
Yes, likely Holes 4, 7, & 8.
Are there any changes to the FPO course?
I don’t think so.
Has being a Disc Golf Pro Tour event helped you grow?
Not grow, but rather exist - without DGPT, the SFO might not have ever happened. The media package and touring professional players allowed us to have one of the most successful inaugural events ever.
What is your favorite funny or entertaining story from running this event?
Never satisfied with anything other than 1st place, Ricky Wysocki did not attend the award ceremony at the conclusion of last year’s event. Since he did not pick up his trophy, we thought it should stay in the Gleneagles clubhouse, where it has been available to order with your beverage of choice…. as a triple pour! Another anecdote, the SF club president (Jon Toby) was the starter all three days. He researched each player and had interesting introductions for each player. For example, did you know that Val Jenkins was the winner of the Disc Golf Cruise and Jeff Faes won a car on the Price is Right!?
Are there any particular shots/scores you remember from past events?
We are very lucky to have an amazing staff. Everyone on our team LOVES the game and showcasing our town to the players and fans. Led by DGPT co-TDs of the Year for 2018, Team SFO started meeting 6 months before the 2018 event. We empowered each member to take ownership of a substantial project: food program, volunteer coordination, course preparation, website, merchandise, spectator onboarding, etc. This approach has fostered a strong sense of pride and ownership of the event by the Team. As such, we consider players, volunteers, staff, and fans as our family. We are extremely excited to put on another great show in May!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.