Paul McBeth took the 2011 professional disc golf season by storm. Winning two of the nine National Tour stops this summer, he cemented his name onto the list of players to watch out for. The number of young and talented players seems to grow exponentially each year as the sport gains exposure. Yet, only two other players in the country (Nikko Locstro and Nathan Doss), both a few years older, managed to win two N.T. stops this season. And yet, it’s interesting to note that despite turning just 21 this summer, and being naturally athletic, the things that set him apart this season point more towards his preparation and dedication.
He began the year on the highlight reel by winning the Memorial Championship. The Memorial is the first tournament of the season each March, and every big name shows up and expects to win. Being a native of Southern California, Paul was able to practice out on a course the entire winter/off-season- and he clearly used this to stay fresh and not lose the muscle memory and form that can dwindle with lack of playing. It wasn’t only practice that kept Paul at the front of the pack however, as he also focused on simply “…getting into shape and being able to play 36 holes consecutively without gassing…” It seemed a little surprising to hear a younger player talk about ‘being in shape,’ but a disc golfer can only be consistent if they have endurance as well; and as we all know, you don’t have to be 30 pounds overweight to be out of shape.
We asked him about his approach to a more specific thing as well- namely a wide open par 4 hole. “What goes through your mind as you step up?” This can be a great place for a spectator to sit at a National Tour event, since the players really air it out and throw for extreme distance. It’s also a place where the opportunity to get a flashy eagle can blind a player to the easier birdie. This fact doesn’t escape him though, as he said, “…first I see if it’s reachable. If not, then I look for the best place to land to give myself an easy 3 look at the basket. I’m slowly learning to stop going for eagles these days…” …again showing that as he looks to improve his game he has the ability to see where maturity can help take strokes off his final scores.
This past July, Paul and a group of friends and fellow disc golf pro’s (including Ulibarri, Nikko, and Feldberg to name a few) traveled to Europe. When we asked what the highlight of the year was for him, he didn’t cite his win at the Memorial, or his comeback, record-setting round and subsequent victory at the Beaver State Fling. He said simply, “…my main highlight would have to be my trip to Europe for a month where I ended up winning an event (The Tali Open), but I was also able to spread the fun of disc golf with the crew I was with…”
There’s a balance to competition and fun; a yin and yang of sorts. Everyone loves to win, but at the end of the day we do it for fun. This doesn’t mean we should never take disc golf serious though. When we asked Paul to give some advice to the average disc golf player, he responded, “If you really wanna get serious I say do it. It’s really tough to improve when you’re not giving 100%. Go practice in a field, practice your shots- such as your angles- backhand, sidearm etc… Every shot counts. One stroke can win or lose you an event.”