The 2017 world championships just finished and I got to catch up with Philo Brathwaite, or as I call him, the wise man of disc golf.
Philo finished tied for 21st with 20 under par. While talking to him, I asked about his feelings on his performance and he said, “it was not the best way to finish, but, I am over it, made my peace, and moving on to the next event.”
To give a small insight on Philo, he has been in the sport “for 17 years off and on and has been pro since 2006.” He has been a 4x SoCal champion and has countless other wins in the B and C tiers. “I have earned my stripes as they say,” Philo told me.
“I didn’t know there was a professional scene until around that time,” Brathwaite said, during his amateur days in 2004. He then went on to compete in his first event in the amateur scene to strive to be a professional. Then in 2005 he reached a “clicking point” for his career to take off. He told me “I just wanted to be an athlete, I have always had a competitive nature about me.” Which is why he began to competing in disc golf so seriously, that competitiveness is what keeps him going in his career.
After talking briefly about his early career, I asked a few questions wanting to hear about how he got his start and his opinions on the game itself. One of the first questions I asked him was how the game has changed. His response was simple, “Everything, everything has changed,” He said. “The talent pool is bigger, the plastic is different and better, social media is a thing now.” He made it clear that the sport is a different sport now than it was back when he first started. Which, is good for the sport itself, it needs to grow and prosper.
When it comes to the talent pool he said “anyone can win a championship, some young kid can come through and beat the veterans.” An example is Eagle McMahon who is a young professional who Brathwaite says, “can throw a 550-foot drive, which is crazy for his age”. Brathwaite was very surprised to see how such young kids can compete like they have been playing this game as long as him.
One of the biggest parts of his career was being sponsored by Innova disc golf in 2006. The story seemed to be a surprise to him. He recalled it by saying “It was crazy, they just walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to be a part of their team. No phone call or anything.” He loves playing for Innova and said that “to get sponsored in my first year of being pro was a humbling and amazing experience.”He is a great addition to that team and will be for years to come. Being sponsored year one shows off just how talented he is and the continuation of that sponsorship shows he hasn’t faltered one bit.
As the conversation went on we got to talking about a few of his favorite things. For instance, his favorite disc is the DX Roc, “I can throw it stable or however I like and it sticks to that path.” The DX Roc was an obvious choice for him because it is what he uses consistently in competition and is known for having that disc in his bag.
When talking about his favorite course, I thought he was going to say a course in California where he is from. But, to my surprise, his favorite course is actually the Milo McIver course in Estacada, Oregon. The reason being is “it is a beautiful course with open fairways, and hitting an albatross doesn’t hurt either,” he told me.
To round out the interview I asked him for advice for individuals who wanted to get better at their disc golf game. His biggest piece of advice “Go on YouTube, there is a wealth of knowledge online,” he said “[or] go to your local course, find your community, the disc golf world is so helpful and so nice if you are nice back”. Which I think is correct and says a lot about the community itself. The best way to learn is through each other and through the ability to communicate.
He opened my eyes to the world of disc golf that I had never heard of before talking to him. He is wise in his words and will have a genuine conversation with you if you let him. He is a friendly guy and is down to earth who loves the sport he competes in.
I would like to thank Philo for taking the time out of his day to let me interview him. I learned quite a bit from him and will take his tips into my own life and game. If you want to support him, go buy his tour support disc which some of the proceeds go to him personally. Find it online with Innova.
So, good luck Philo on the rest of your tour and keep on keeping on man!
Picture credit goes to innovadiscs.com