Interview with Disc Golf Pro: Bradley Williams
Golf Station: How long have you been playing?
Williams: I learned about Disc golf summer of
2006. Disc Golf at the time interested me very little; I rarely spared any free
time to play. 2007 I was talked into playing in a tournament and becoming a
PDGA member by Ian Hovey. The tournament experience was ruined for me because
of the 50 mph winds that continued throughout the day. I quit playing all
together after that. Later that year I was talked into taking a trip down to
the coast, one of my friends wanted to play in a tournament and I had a car. I
played and I didn't really like it. At the end of the tournament they had a
safari final 9. We stayed to watch the Pros play.
That is when I met Mike Olse for the
first time. After watching him compete, I noticed I had some sort of fire or
anger inside of me, I decided that I was going to get good so I could beat him
one day. In 2008, I met a friend that was just starting out and we both wanted
to get good as fast as we could. After work for 4 months I practiced every
Who taught you to play?
BW: I'm a self taught Disc Golfer; I
came into the sport in my twenties, so I didn't have a father figure to show me
the game. However there are a few people that I watched play in the early
stages that I learned from. They are in no particular order, Mike Suida, Ian Hovey,
Mike Olse, Tony Ganger, Scott Yancy and Tim Engebretson.
DGS: Do you have a disc golf hero or
player that you model yourself after?
BW: When I decided to get good, I
used a lot of Climo in my game, today it’s evolved into Nikko, Feldberg, Avery,
and Paul Ulibarri
DGS: When did you decide to go pro?
BW: A lot of the Local "Life
Time" amateurs gave me the stink eye in 2008 because I won a few
tournaments. So I told myself I would turn pro whenever I shot 3 or more 1000
rated rounds in a tournament. This happened during my 5th tournament of 2008,
so I turned pro the next tournament.
What advice could you give to an advanced player aspiring to improve and play
BW: Learn to teach yourself how to do
things the right way, when you get good enough to shoot 970-980 golf, start
playing open. The first part of playing open, and for most people that play
open it may be the only part they will ever know, it is getting a free weekend.
Most tournaments pay around 100$ for last cash. If you spent 65$ to play, you
would be getting some of your gas money back as well. This is how you get
better, you look at tournaments differently. When you played advanced you tried
to win, when you first turn open you try to learn as much at every tournament
but still fight to get your free weekend. That will be your new reasonable
goal, while you steal all the secrets from the guys around you.
Make new goals when you get good at
getting the free weekend. :)
DGS: What was your first disc ever?
BW: I found a champion Sidewinder
and I had a Birdie Putter.
DGS: Dude! I started with a Birdie too! What is your go-to disc now?
BW: If I had to play a one disc
challenge I would probably use a Wizard.
What kind of other gear/accessories do you find essential for tournament play?
BW: Clean towel is a must; I bring a
pair of clean socks for every round, as well as water or sports drink. I have
to bring a piece of paper, a mini, and a pencil. I record my score in every
tournament, it’s easier and stress free when it comes down to totaling scores
with your card mates at the end.
DGS: What are your favorite
BW: In Texas I like to play East Metro in Manor,
Met center and Wilco. I liked the Houck course at the IDGC (International Disc Golf Center) in GA, and I want
revenge at the Maple Hill course in MA.
DGS: Ever been injured?
BW: In 2008, I was in Ireland
throwing discs and I tore a hip flexor, which still flares up when I play
today. In 2009, I tore something in my right arm in the first round of
the DD Lewisville winter warm up.
I tore some ligaments in my right
ankle in High school, I don't have full range of motion and it took 3 years
before I could do anything with it. One of the main reasons why I play disc
golf today. For the most part, it's safe to play Disc golf.
DGS: How did you recover?
BW: I've taken some time off, but
there isn't anything you can do to be 100%. I didn't want to have surgery.
DGS: How often do you play?
BW: I've been on the road a lot this
year; I don't have any routines yet. I play when I have a new disc to throw, or
a new skill to learn. While on the road you are passing by courses all the
time, I like to try the good ones.
DGS: Do you have a specific practice
BW: Practice is normally the bad
time I spend playing, and when tournament time comes I try to eliminate the bad
things I was doing in practice.
When I was learning the game from an
Advanced player’s perspective, when I got to the course I spent the first 20
min just throwing my putters and mid ranges to the same spot over and over. I
would putt for 5 min after that, then jump on the course. I remember doing this
a lot during that time.
DGS: What type of music do you listen to
during your round?
BW: I actually never listen to music
during rounds, during the Fly Ink open is the only time I've played with music.
I thought it would take my mind of the things I was frustrated with, I don't
think it helped. :(
What do you do to focus yourself to compete in and win Open competition?
BW: I try to learn the best way for
me to play as many holes as I can before the tournament, there will always be a
hole or two that you just can’t figure out on your own. When the tournament
starts I only focus on my swing and how I can make it work. I've been playing
for 4 years and I still don't know exactly how to play every angle yet. My
swing is almost where I want it. You really have to just trick yourself into
making things happen during those rounds. I like to imagine the perfect shot
and trick myself into making it happen. I like to take big breaths and stretch
between holes, if things are not going to the way I want them, I will try to
walk away from the group and stare at something and talk to myself. It's up to
you to make things happen, get to know how your mind reacts to things during
good and bad rounds. Then try to fix it.
What do you say to those that don't like your style and approach to the game?
BW: It's not the players; it's the
courses that are going to grow the sport into a more respectable light. If any
Joe can design and install a Disc Golf course on Public property, then that’s
the kind of respect you’re going to have from the public. Until there is a
respectable standard of where and how you install a course, people that play
will come and go with little impact to anything. The courses and the game are
what will be judged not the players that have come and gone.
As far as my style and approach to
the game, I've been in a constant struggle to get a place where I can actually
play the game. If you can't throw all the shots then you will never be playing
the game that I want to play. It's just called practice. In reality it's just
me driving around the country playing with a few of my friends every weekend in
a park. Some people call it "Living the dream", I think it’s a great
way for me to meet good people and see America. However, it's a struggle and
sometimes during events I step back and see things the way they really are. A
group of people walking around in a public park. I don't judge everyone I see
and neither should you.
DGS: What do you consider to be your
BW: I have the straight shots, lol.
I am learning how to use my competitive nature every tournament I play and I
see that it’s growing. I'm precise when it comes to throwing things. So it's
easier for me to fix bad problems because they will keep happening until I do.
DGS: What aspect of your game do you
want to improve?
BW: I would like to make what I'm
doing now into something I can use to win and keep competitive over the next
few years. It has come to my attention, that your public appeal is a part of
your game. 2011 will be my first year to work on that.
DGS: What are your goals for 2011?
BW: 2011 should be the year I win my
first NT, followed by a Major in 2012. The rest of the year I will continue to
grow as a player that has to be beat every weekend.
DGS: How do you like being on the Gateway
BW: 2010 wouldn't have happened for
me if it wasn't for Gateway and my friend Nikko. They both played a big part of
getting me out of Texas. Dave McCormack, the owner of Gateway has been a good friend,
giving me advice and helping me find my way to tournaments. Gateway is the only
Frisbee factory I've been to, seeing how discs are made and distributed really
gave me a lot of respect for Dave. The amount of work that has to be done to
produce and give options to the disc golf community has made me want to help
promote this company. Before Gateway, I only had Innova discs in my bag. That
is how I learned about Disc golf; Innova was the best so naturally if you want
to be good you would throw them. Once Gateway broke the spell I was under, I
realized that I should be throwing what will help me do the best, so I started
throwing as many new discs as I could and my game has improved dramatically. I
hope to encourage as many people as I can to put some Gateway in their bags; it’s
the cure for the spell I was under. Call it Magic. Lol
DGS: What is your favorite tournament?
BW: I really enjoyed playing the
Beaver State Fling. Two fun courses in the same park, along with a championship
18 hole mini golf course that is up during the entire tournament. It was also a
great venue for people to promote disc golf. Lots of booths and shops where set
up. It felt like more than just walking around in a park with your friends.
DGS: What is your favorite disc golf
BW: It’s the same every time, when I
throw a shot or a putt that works out. I only focus on that part, when I get
enough of them in a tournament, I win. :) Bonus...
DGS: What do you do when you're not
playing disc golf?
BW: I mostly read and play video
games these days. When I was younger I played just about every sport my school
offered along with BMX and motocross. With a background in Skate boarding
or BMX, I find that you will be better at disc golf than most people. The reason
for this is, in both of those sports you have navigate dangerous obstacles
in order to play the sport. You have to first be creative to find new obstacles
Second, once you know what you’re
going to do, you have to have the courage and commitment to stick to your
decision and execute. In Disc golf that comes in handy when looking for angles
and lines to hit and then throwing them without hesitation. Some disc golfers I
know with skateboarding backgrounds, Ian Hovey, Paul Ulibarri and Nikko
If you could only play with 3 discs, what would they be and why?
BW: Fast driver would be a really
over stable S/DS, I would use this for long drives and sidearm shots. The ones
that I have are very trust worthy.
Medium driver would be a Tee Bird. I
could use this disc for just about every shot in the game; this disc doesn't
have much stability and is slow enough to be used for different shots.
For a putter, I would use a Glow
Wiz. It's what I putt with now and it throws well. I can throw this putter just
about as far as I could with a Mid range disc.
And finally, how soon will you win Worlds or the USDGC?
BW: 2012 is the year I figure I will
be ready to win one; if it happens in 2011 I will be surprised.
Thanks Bradley and best of luck in 2011!