Average Disc Golf scored a 10 Questions interview with 2009 World Champion and one of the games greatest ambassadors, Avery Jenkins.
1. When and how did you start playing disc golf?
It was in the Spring of 1985 when I was 6 years old when I threw my first disc, growing up in Northeast Ohio, there were plenty of courses to choose from. My Home Course, Roscoe Ewing Park, is the Oldest Disc Golf Course in Ohio designed and installed in 1978 the Godfather of Disc Golf, Ed Headrick. I would go with my parents to the course on a regular basis at least 3 times a week. I wouldn’t always play complete round of golf and maybe just a few holes at a time before I would get distracted and go play in the creek looking for discs.
I gradually started playing more as I got older and started playing much better from year to year. One thing that my parents told me was that I would always throw in a long putt at least once a round and many local players would always threaten to quit the game if I got any better. They somehow knew my potential at a young age and knew that I was capable of so much more in this sport long before I ever realized it.
2. What were your very first discs?
My first disc, it was a White Wham-O 86 with a Red Circular Hotstamp that my father had given to me. I believe that I still have that disc sitting in a box somewhere back at my parents house in Ohio, at least I hope that I do. I also remember throwing lots of Phantoms and Eclipse back in the day, it didn’t really matter to me much about what I was throwing at the time as it was all about just playing Disc Golf.
3. How many aces do you have, or have you lost count?
I actually have no clue the exact number of aces that I have throughout my 30-years of playing Disc Golf. It seems odd since I keep track of so many other things in life including states & countries that I’ve played Disc Golf, the number of courses played in the US and throughout the world, yet I never kept a total of the number of aces. If I were to guess, it’s over 100+ Aces for sure including all of the practice and tournament rounds throughout my career.
4. What is the best and worst thing about traveling for the sport?
The 2014 Discmania Deep in the Game Tour was definitely one for the ages as we got the opportunity to host 58 instructional clinics and workshops throughout the US and Europe this year. It’s something that we as players do that is very unique, not only did we teach like other professionals, but we taught Disc Golf on such a enormous scale on a weekly basis in over 100 cities, 44 US states and in 8 countries. It was the first Disc Golf Instructional Tour of its kind of this size and magnitude with over 900 participants in attendance throughout the year!
The absolute least favorite part is the cease of the tour at the end of the season, as I wish that the year could have continued for another few months at the very least. Myself knowing that with the arrival of my child that Disc Golf Touring would never be the same as I’ve known it to be over the past 15-years. It was an absolute blast the entire time as for me it was reliving the Disc Golf Tour that I knew so well, but this time it was all about providing the guidance for the young 22-year old German Phenom, Simon Lizotte, as it was his first time traveling as a Professional Touring Disc Golfer. It was a continuous adventure traveling, playing and teaching but most importantly having a lot of fun doing what we love to do!
So with my responsibilities of fatherhood, Simon will be taking to the road again on the Flying Circus Tour along with Tour Manager and SpinTV Director, Jamie Thomas. They are going to take the instructional tour where we left off last season meanwhile putting a new twist on it by offering some highly sought after Distance Clinics with the World Record Distance Champion. Every player that I know is always asking how they can add more distance to their game, now Simon will be showing them just that and bringing an action-packed entertaining learning experience.
For more information of the Discmania Flying Circus Tour go to: http://www.discmania.net/2015/03/20/discmania-presents-the-flying-circus-with-simon-lizotte/
5. What piece of advice would you give an amateur player to improve their game?
The best advice that I can give to an upcoming player is to develop a solid practice routine and engage yourself with full commitment you got, convincing yourself that it’s something that you want to do more than anything. You also need to develop a strong sense of self confidence in your skills and abilities believing that you can play any hole with anyone. One thing that I’ve constantly done throughout my career, “Play, compete and do things like a champion” and I did this way before ever becoming a Champion. Be patient, have fun and enjoy the competition.
When going into any tournament, you need to reflect on what you have practiced and the time spent doing so. Don’t overthink or force shots that they are not comfortable with, just rely on the muscle memory that you’ve developed through dedicated practice. Mentally you want to remain calm with little inflection in emotional highs or lows, keep a steady mindset and be patient throughout the rounds. Focus only on the shot that you’re currently being presented with, don’t think ahead of yourself, one shot at a time…one hole at a time.
6. In your bag currently, what is your absolute “Go-To” disc?
My Star Destroyers have and continue to be my “Go-To” Discs of choice as they have definitely made me a better distance thrower off the tee and they have given me many birdie opportunities throughout my professional career. It’s the one disc that I carry various multiples of from overstable to straight stable to understable with different stages in between to have the ability to throw a multitude of angles and distances. The Star Destroyer is not the fastest disc on the market but it’s by far the most controllable of all of the distance drivers that I’ve ever thrown.
It’s great to see how well received these discs throughout the Disc Golf Players as well, I know lots of players that carry up to 4 or 5 Star Destroyers at all times including the 3X Disc Golf World Champion, Paul McBeth!
7. What was your mind set and thoughts going into sudden death when you won your world championship?
I believe that trust in my ability and skills have been very important during rounds to keep me in the right frame of mind. I trust that I have the shot for any situation and have confidence of throwing the best shots on any hole on the course. Having trust and confidence in your abilities has proven to produce positive outcomes, just knowing that can take you a long way in this sport.
I look back to a recent situation during the World Championships this year when I threw what I believe to be the most clutch shot of my career at the most crucial time. It was during the 5 hole playoff between Josh Anthon and myself which took place on the 4th hole when I was faced with a difficult upshot behind an island of trees. Josh had already thrown his shot under the basket and I was forced to make the shot or lose the Championship. I had to make the decision of throwing a backhand shot uphill around the trees with a left to right crosswind, which had the chance of knocking down my shot. Or throwing the more difficult and longer forehand shot around the lower left side of the trees.
I kept my composure and dug deep within myself to have the confidence to make the shot in the most crucial of situations by throwing the forehand out and around using the left to right crosswind to bring the disc to the basket for the par save. That shot alone pushed the playoff to the next and final 5th playoff hole where I made the final putt for the World Championship Title.
8. When you practice, what do you focus on most?
The area that I focus on most when practicing is concentrated focus and commitment to the discipline. It’s very easy to get distracted or bored when practicing, especially when I’ve been doing it as a Top Professional for over 15 years. I like to go out to the fields and throw a multitude of shots from distance then dialing it back to fairway drivers, getting in lots of throwing repetitions.
When practicing the course, I recommend giving yourself enough time to properly play the course, throwing multiple tee shots to assess the situations and certain outcomes on throwing different routes on each hole. Be sure to analyze each fairway to where you want to be and the places to avoid landing, taking the high percentage routes to the basket that result in the least amount of risk. And survey the greens and area around the basket to determine the best places to land upshots and what areas provide the most open putts to ensure a good chance at scoring.
A good practice session will increase your advantages when it comes to the tournament rounds, do your Disc Golf Course homework and you will be rewarded.
9. Which is worse when putting? Hitting the cap, hitting the cage, or the Airball?
Well, obviously hitting absolutely nothing on an airball putt is by far the worst. An airball can lead to much greater risk and stroke loss if the disc was to go out-of-bounds, off the side of a cliff or into a lake to be lost forever. You have to make sure that at the very least that you hit the basket if you’re not going to make the putt, that way the Putter typically stays closer to the basket…typically.
10. What are your plans and goals for the 2015 season/year, especially now that you are a father?
The most recent birth of my son, Arian Jenkins, will definitely change things up quite a bit this year as my priorities have obviously shifted to the family life. I still plan on playing a good amount of tournaments this season but making many more trips back to see him throughout the week. In years past when I would travel to events, I would play those tournaments and stay on the tours for months. Now with the Baby Boy in my life, I’ll be making frequent trips back and forth throughout the season even though I will have the opportunity to bring him out for a few short mini tours this year.
I realize that I can’t tour forever as I’m the last of the original Disc Golf Road Warriors but with life’s responsibilities along with looking for a change of direction within the sport will have me making some critical decisions sooner or later. Trust me, I absolutely love traveling and playing Disc Golf for a living as I’ve done for the past 16-seasons but with my experience that I’ve gained along the way I’m really looking forward to diverting my focus to helping to progress the sport much further.
Avery would like to give a shout out to his sponsors.