In the group of players sponsored by Dynamic Discs there is a lefty that has moved up the ranks in the Disc golf world. From working for Dynamic Discs in Kansas to being one of the sponsored players, Chris Clemons has done just that. Chris gave me the opportunity to talk with him and answer the slew of questions I had prepared. He has a great story to tell and is worth checking out when at all possible, so give it a read down below and enjoy!
For Chris, his disc golf career didn’t start with the love of the sport right off the bat. To start Chris told me that “in high school, around 2004-05 I had a friend who played it, but I had my loyalties to basketball and baseball the whole time.” So, the sport was around Chris but not affecting him directly, yet. He then told me that “it was late spring or early summer when he finally got us out to play, I shot horrible my first round.” He finally got his first round in and the bug was caught. It was hard for him to not continue to play after that first round. He went on to say that “that summer we played pretty much all day every day, 12-sundown.” Which is to no surprise and is what happens to all of us at some point. But he also had some time to take off throughout his starting career. It was not an everyday occurrence for a short period in his life. He told me that “I played off and on for a couple years then moved to Arkansas and played here and there.” He caught the bug, but something did not click immediately with him. It took him to having to move to Joplin, Missouri to really kick start his love for the game. When he got there, he said that “I really started to play more and eventually got invited to league and to some tournaments. I played advanced for a few years and took me until my 10 or 11th event to actually win one.” Then from that point on he went to get 4th in the am championships and win a spot onto Latitude 64 by an unconventional means. He got on latitude 64 by “writing in to a response, in 2013-2014 they had an opening on their USA team and you had to write in to see if you could make it, I wrote in and got the spot.” A way I have never heard of before, but from that point on he escalated his career to where he is now.
There seems to be a reason for each individual to go and play a round. For Chris, it was simple. He told me that “my grandpa is someone who inspires me, I would go over there all summer. He would play ball golf Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.” He would go out and play with his grandpa and not only that, he would get in some reading as well. He told me that “he would have a lot of golf digest books laying around, so I read up and had a leg up on the competition.” He took his learning into the world of disc golf, since these two sports share a mentality and certain level of skill. He also wanted to add by saying “the people around me push me to want to compete and get better.” It not only is his grandfather who inspires him, but the people around him as well.
Taking the leap into the professional world of disc golf is a road that must be traveled when you are on the same caliber of Chris. His start is like others by saying “I switched to open once I started winning more in the non-sanctioned events, all of the guys I played with in those events were in the open division.” Non-sanctioned events are great to have fun in and a good idea of how you would play against others in a similar division. Chris took his wins and realized his potential and decided to move up. He also realized that “after the am worlds in 2013 I couldn’t go back to advanced, so I had to move up to open.” It is hard to come back and go back to a lower division after a placement like Chris had. So, he moved up and worked his way into the position he is in today.
As you may know, Chris is sponsored by Dynamic Discs and has been sponsored by Latitude 64 in the past. When asked about what it was like to transition and even be on the team, he had positive messages to say. He told me that “it’s pretty awesome, I lived in Kansas from 2015-18 and I actually worked for DD in Kansas City.” Which is something I had not heard of before, a player working for the company while playing. Now, I know now of plenty of players who are sponsored and work for companies, but it seems not all that too common. From Latitude to DD he said that “the transition was easy, being sister companies made it simple.” Since they are both in the trilogy family transitioning from one to the other made life easy for Chris. When talking about the team, he told me that “it is full of naturally outgoing people that promote the sport in sorts of ways and DD gravitated to us and it is really a big family in DD.” These are common ideals amongst all of the dynamic discs sponsored players that I have spoken to. Chris is a charismatic guy and Dynamic Discs was all about that and they wanted him on their team because of it. Now, being a sponsored player has its responsibilities as well. Chris let me know that “being a sponsored player has you under a keen eye all the time, you have to hold a certain level of professionalism within the sport.” Which, not a lot of people realize. It can be all fun and games, but you are under a microscope while playing. Chris recognizes that and always takes it in stride to show his professional side.
Favorites are hard to choose from in any context, it is hard to choose just one. But Chris eventually concluded on a favorite disc and course. He told me that his favorite disc is “the judge, I am basically going to be using a putter on every hole.” The putter is usually the one people go for and Chris was no different. He told me that “if you are putting well you are doing well ad putts will save you, so you have to show some love for your putters.” A pivotal part of your game needs some attention so I couldn’t agree more with the putter choice. His favorite course is a classic choice within disc golf and with good reason. His favorite course is “maple hill, it is just such an amazing course.” He went on to continue by saying that “its open, elevated, wooded, and has water danger. Every single hole is a real test.” The course is unlike any other and Chris loves the challenge the course brings. He has played many courses but could not talk enough about Maple hill.
2019 is already a month down and the off-season seems to be fading away at a rapid pace. Chris is always working towards a better year than the last. He told me that “in the off-season I was working out and working a real job as well, I was also taking the proper steps for a better 2019.” The work for the year ahead is what you do leading up to the year or event and Chris is finding out what works best for him. He said that “last year was my first-year touring and it had some bumps, I am trying to bounce back from that.” A season on the road can be a daunting task especially when you are not used to it, but Chris is confident in his ability and wanted to let you know that “expect me to have some good finishes.” Which is exciting to hear form a player such as Chris. While traveling be on the lookout for Chris because he will not be alone on his adventures this year. He let me in on the inside scoop and told me that “ I will be traveling with Jordan Castro and Adam Vosburgh, we will be having clinics and doubles matches as we go around.” So be on the lookout if you see that Chris will be in your town to play, he is always willing to meet the locals and play around as he travels from event to event with his crew.
Growing the sport is a creed that all disc golfers follow, and Chris is no different than anyone else with that mindset. Chris takes a simple approach to growing the sport he told me “I just get out and be with my community.” He added by saying that “I remember being in Kansas City at rose dale park and people would come talk to me.” Just being open to the public is what Chris that does best and often is the most helpful thing Being available to help those that the local course or just answer questions can make people want to play. He went on to add “Just helping people in general is what is important.” I think that helping others is what people need to focus on and seeing Chris take account for these and do them is positive and great to see.
Each player has a piece of advice that is different from the others, Chris’ advice holds some good ground. His advice started simple by stating “you have to practice the right way.” Which sounds arbitrary at first, but it makes sense when he started to continue his thoughts. He told me that “people will just go play their local course every day, but it is almost better to go out and practice putts and drives in fieldwork.” It takes time to master a skill set and it is fun to go play a round, but you don’t necessarily learn how to play better or throw better by throwing the same lines the whole time. Going out and throwing 100 shots truly help you master the shots you need to make. While doing field there is a piece of advice that he had that I often struggle with, he said that “getting in reps is the best when you are fresh and better for you then going out and throwing for hours upon hours. Getting lazy and tired is a thing and so you have to learn and pace yourself.” Often some may think that the longer you go throw the better the result when the opposite is true. Chris has changed his schedule from being out in the field for 3 hours straight to taking breaks in between sessions and it has helped his game drastically. It is okay to take breaks and rest our body and mind for a while before throwing again.
Talking about yourself and letting the world knowing if there is something you need to let the people know about is hard. However, Chris did have some great words to say to end off our interview. Chris wanted to say, “I would just encourage people to get out and to play and take a friend along. If anyone has any questions for me, they can ask me and not be afraid to approach me if they see me. I also want to people to know that my job when I don’t play disc golf is that I work with people who have dementia and I do in-house care as well.”
I would like to thank Chris for taking the time out of his day to talk to me and answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Chris, you can follow him on Instagram @ddclemonade. Be on the lookout for more from Chris this season and as always be on the lookout from me as well!
picture credit goes to Chris Clemons