Behind the Throw - Drake Smith

Behind the Throw - Drake Smith - Flippy Disc Golf Apparel
How did you first get introduced to disc golf, and what was it about the game that captivated you? Feel free to share something unique about your life and connect it to Disc Golf.

Drake: I first played disc golf in high school, but I didn't really take it seriously then. I had a couple friends that played, and I would go play with them occasionally after school. Not because I wanted to play disc golf, but because I was an outdoorsy person, and it was a reason to get out of the house and enjoy nature. I eventually came back to disc golf years later and it was a much different experience for me. Part of that is because after high school I got a job with a friend at a golf course. One of the perks was free golf, so naturally I took that opportunity to start playing. I had never really played golf before other than going to the driving range a few times. I ended up getting hooked on golf. I thought the courses were beautiful, the game was fun, and it was challenging. I couldn't ask for much more than that. But after a couple years I got a new job, and I started working a lot more and golfing a lot less. So, when I ended up going to play a round of disc golf with one of the same friends from high school almost 10 years later, I fell completely in love with it. It is all the things I loved about golf, in even more scenic landscapes. Ever since that day, I haven't been able to stop playing and don't intend to either.

Share your favorite disc golf course that you’ve played and a favorite course that you’d still love to visit.

Drake: My favorite course is Rollin Ridge in Reedsville, WI. The course is beautifully laid out and has everything from tight wooded lines to big open shots. All the built architecture and raised baskets make this course one of a kind. Also, every hole also has 3 tee pads and 3 baskets, so there are plenty of different way to play the course. And if that isn't enough, the course also has a pro shop with a bar, camping on the property, and some of the nicest locals. It's truly the all-around disc golf experience for me. As for a course I'd like to visit, Blue Ribbon Pines is on the top of that list for me right now.

For newcomers to disc golf, what's one technical tip or aspect of play you think is undervalued but can make a big difference in their game?

Drake: I think one of the best things a newcomer can do is to start to learn their throw from the standstill. Things are always easier to learn when you break them down into parts. Getting comfortable throwing from the standstill will help you dial in the upper body form without having to worry about footwork and timing. Not only is that going to help you build a solid foundation for your throw, but it will also limit the possibility of making a mistake. And any time you can limit the chance of mistakes, you will save strokes.

Can you recall a particularly challenging course or hole that you've played and how you navigated it? What made it stand out?

Drake: The toughest course that I have played is Northwoods Blacks. And yes, it is really as tough as they make it out to be. What makes it so daunting is that it is the perfect blend of traditional ball golf course distance, and woods courses with tight lines and brutal roughs. Add in a lot of elevation change and some jagged terrain and you have Northwoods blacks. Despite how tough and honestly kind of intimidating the course is, I still really enjoyed playing it. I think I enjoyed it so much because the course almost demanded that I followed my attack plan. Which was to be smart and pick my shots wisely. Not to go for anything I wasn't completely confident in. I knew if I didn't follow that plan and started "going for it" then it was going to be not only catastrophic for my round, but I'd probably lose a lot of discs in the process. It really tests your mental fortitude, and your ability to manage the course around you unlike anywhere else I have ever played. 

Disc golfers often have a favorite disc in their bag. Which is yours, and why does it hold that special place for you?

Drake: I have a dyed Essence in my bag that is by far my favorite. I have a friend that suggested I tried an Essence and I'm glad I listened to him because as soon as I threw it, I knew it would be a staple in my bag. I liked it so much I decided to buy a dyed one, and it has been and absolute workhorse for me ever since. It has such a consistent flight for me, and is the best shot shaping disc I've ever thrown. When I grab that disc, I'm always confident that I will make the shot and that makes it irreplaceable to me.

Disc golf, like many sports, has a community aspect to it. Can you share a memorable moment or story that stemmed from your involvement with the Flippy Disc Golf community?

Drake: I have been lucky to meet quite a few people due to my involvement with Flippy Disc Golf. I've met a couple team members at tournaments, as well as had some amazing conversations with people that have approached me because of the Team Flippy logo on my shirt. I think one of the coolest community moments I had though was the first time I met a team member. When I got on the team, I immediately started following everyone on their social medias to show support. In doing that I found out one of the team members was pretty local to me. Not long after that, I was searching for tournaments, and I saw he was running his own tournament. So to once again show support, I decided to sign up. When tournament day came around and I got there to check in, Cameron was doing check in and saw my shirt and we instantly fell right into a conversation like we had known each other for a long time. It felt like a moment of instant comradery. It was cool to be able to meet a team member and support his event. I probably wouldn't have gone to that tournament, or met Cameron, or any of the people I played with that day if it wasn't for Flippy Disc Golf.

How do you prepare for a big tournament or match? Are there any specific routines, mental exercises, or physical training regimens you follow?

Drake: As of now there aren't any specific routines I go through. I think it really depends on how I am feeling about my game at the time. I'll pick out what I think my weakness is and Ill focus that. So, if my putts are struggling, I'll spend more time on the practice basket. Or if I'm lacking confidence off the tee I'll go do field work. I also like to go to this small course right by my house. It's a little 9-hole and all the holes are 150 ft or shorter. It's perfect to work on my up shots and to build some confidence before a tournament.

Are there any disc golfers or athletes in general who have inspired your journey or whom you look up to? Why?

Drake: I don't think there are any disc golfers in particular that inspire me, but I will say that I envy almost all of them. My dream is to be able to make disc golf my livelihood, and I don't necessarily mean to play disc golf for a living. Whether it's something as big as working on the pro tour, or as small as working for a local retail store, I want to be able to be involved in disc golf's continued growth. So I'm envious that they are getting to do that.

With the growth and evolution of disc golf, where do you see the sport in the next 5-10 years? And what role do you think platforms like Flippy Disc Golf will play in that future?

Drake: I think platforms like Flippy Disc Golf are really pushing the growth of the sport, and are building stronger advocates. I can only speak for myself, but I know being on this team gives me a sense of pride that I am a part of something bigger than me in the disc golf community. I get to help grow a part of the sport I love. Knowing that makes me want to be as much of an advocate as possible and to represent myself and the sport to the best of my ability. Platforms like Flippy Disc Golf will continue to fuel that fire for people who feel the same as me and that can only mean great things for the growth of Disc golf. At the rate disc golf is growing already and with the addition of platforms like Flippy Disc Golf building strong advocates of the game, it's hard to picture where it will be in 5-10 years. Hopefully, it will surpass all of our expectations.

Outside of the technical aspects, what's the most valuable life lesson disc golf has taught you?

Drake: I think the most valuable life lesson I've gained from disc golf is that you can't control what happens around you, but you can control how you react to it. I didn't necessarily learn that from disc golf, but disc golf taught me how to act on it. Things are going to happen out on the course. You might hit a branch you never saw, or have a putt spit out of the basket, or get a terrible roll away. Most of those things aren't always controllable. They happen to the best of the best, and they will definitely happen to all of us too. What you can control is how you react to those situations. Typically you will get 2 options. You can get angry or upset about it and react negatively. Which usually doesn't help. If anything, it will only make matters worse and will most likely effect the rest of your round. Or you can accept it for what it is, take one shot at a time, and move on. I've learned the latter is always more beneficial.

What’s the very worst score you’ve ever recorded, and on what hole?

Drake: Honestly, I'm not too sure what my worst recorded hole is. I know I've had quite a few get to 8. I've definitely had worse holes then that, but I have just mentally blocked them out because I'd rather not remember them haha

In the world of disc golf, we discover unique stories that vividly illustrate the transformative power of both the sport and its community. Take Drake, for instance, whose journey, from casual high school rounds to an enduring love for the game, mirrors the profound impact disc golf can have on a person's life. His experience, much like many others, showcases how disc golf transcends being a mere sport; it's a journey of finding community, continuous growth, and valuable life lessons.

If you've been captivated by Drake's journey or share a passion for disc golf, follow him on Instagram @drakesmithdg. Join his ever-growing community and engage in the ongoing conversation about this incredible sport. As we continue to celebrate the stories and experiences that make disc golf special, stay tuned for more inspiring tales from Team Flippy and the wider disc golf community. Whether you're a seasoned player or just getting started, the journey in disc golf is filled with unforgettable moments and boundless opportunities for growth.

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