I haven’t thought about discus sports since I graduated from college. I played golf disc twice, and both times I lost several of my partner’s discs. It’s not just the sport for me. But, by George, this clip of James Conrad drowning a birdie to force a playoff makes me excited to go back out and try again.
Really quick, a little background on this incredible feat: Conrad has been play professionally as a member of the Pro Golf Association since 2006. His first tournament victory came in 2008 at the Sontag Open, a pro-am C-tier in Rocky Mount, Virginia. Prior to Saturday’s World Disco Golf Championships, Conrad hadn’t won a major golf disc. He had finished top-3 only once, and top-10 only twice more. This time, Conrad was on pace to miss once again the top spot.
Conrad’s opponent, Paul McBeth – 5 times world champion, trying to win his sixth. McBeth had a header from a directing shot in the final hole of the tournament, and Conrad’s shoulder was against the wall. McBeth’s first shot went over the water hazard, through the trees on the other side, and just a few stops inside the limits. It was a huge relief for McBeth, who proceeded to pump his fist in excitement. Conrad’s first shot wasn’t so good. Conrad hit a tree and the disc bounced toward the starting point, lying on the grass without a clear hit to the hole. It was such a hard blow that even the World Cup announcers said Conrad’s chances of winning were now “on the impossible field.”
“That would be the blow of the century.”
“It’s going to take a herculean shot.”
“It’s going to take a miracle.”
These were all statements made by the transmission couple ahead of Conrad’s final move. Just keep that in mind. Conrad used his next shot to settle down, just a quick drop on the grass in front of him, to give himself a better angle to the hole. McBeth – thinking stupidly he was in the clear – played very safe. He wasn’t forced into anything, and he used his second shot to set up a potential 4-spot and then hit Conrad on that hole, and since McBeth had a header from a shot that went into the final hole, McBeth will win the first prize.
But then Conrad landed his third shot. He pulled out his putter disk (yes, it’s one thing; it gives you more control, but it doesn’t fly far), he found his line, and he took a deep breath. At 247 meters from the forum, all that was left was a blow and a dream.
Incredible. Immediately after that shot, Conrad had to live a real life Happy Gilmore moment where all who watched or stared in fear, jumped with him in excitement, or followed him to the forum to make sure what they had seen was true.
After all the excitement settled, McBeth and Conrad were tied at -39. They had to solve this in a playoff. Luckily for Conrad, the first player of the playoffs was the one he was too familiar with – the 16th of the Ogden official, Utah, of course. In fact, Conrad made a hole in one in that forum exactly before in the tournament.
While this time it wasn’t a hole in one, Conrad’s shot set him up nicely. McBeth was unfortunate, that his record jumped out of bounds. McBeth also missed his next shot, and had to settle for a 4. Conrad sank his second shot, and the tournament was his.
I tell you, disc golf can be the sport of the future. The prize pool for that tournament was over $ 173,000. Conrad left with $ 16,500. In all, in 15 tournaments in 2021, Conrad won $ 28,778. While this may not seem like much compared to other professional sports, disc golf is growing rapidly. You saw how many fans watched that final hole. You saw how the crowd went. People are excited about this stuff, and Conrad’s shot will increase interest only for the sport. I wouldn’t be surprised if 5-10 years from now, we start to see Majors for PDGA transmission on big networks. If the prize is big enough, and the sport generates great moments, people will watch it. That said, we see another moment like Conrad at some point, unlikely.