In the world of competitive disc golf, there are plenty of top tier players who still compete in tournaments every season. Players such as the McBeth’s, Wysocki’s. Barsby’s, and Lizotte’s of the world. But there are still some players on tour who are a part of the “old guard” of disc golf. One of those players is Dave Feldberg. One of the greats in disc golf, Dave has had a long historic disc golf career. Dave’s career highlights include winning seven major championships, winning more nation tour events than any other player in the history of the sport with an amazing 18, being two-time PDGA player of the year, 3-time PDGA points leader, 3-time national series champion, winner of 11 country titles, and over 100 professional wins including an open world championship win in 2008 as well as a masters worlds title in 2018! This long list of wins and achievements is just the tip of the iceberg for Dave. Check out and enjoy his historic journey below!
Dave’s career did not begin the way I would have imagined. When I asked him to tell me his story, he began with, “I started in 1997. I used to live at Western Michigan University and a group of friends, and I used to meet up and play games every week.” His close friends made it a point to go each week to go shoot hoops, play baseball, etc. “One week, nobody was around, and when they showed up, they kept talking about going ‘frolfing’ and told me to get into the car.” So, naturally Dave hopped into the car and off they went to Cold Brook Park in Michigan. While there, Dave and his friends played for skins the first game, and even though it was only for $1 a hole, it was enough to make Dave take the game seriously. Dave went on to describe the way that first game made him feel, “I took it personally, I went to a place called In-flight Sports and bought a Comet and a Roc and went out to practice.” Playing that first time created a strong desire to compete with, and beat his friends. After practicing for a few days Dave finally felt better about his game. He explained that “we went back out and I beat a few of them. After that I went out to the local league and a month later, I went to play my first PDGA event, the Amateur World Championships.” Dave decided very early on, that he was determined to take his game to the next level. He wanted to become not only the best player in the world, but the best player he could possibly be. As they say, the rest is history.
While having a career as long as Dave has had, it can become a challenge to not only play, but to remain competitive for so long. When asked about his inspiration, Dave had a lot to say. He began with, “I am competitive.” Before his disc golf career began, Dave had a passion for music, and traveled all over to his favorite bands. I was into the Phish tour, so I was used to traveling around the country and being a gypsy so to speak.” The band Phish was super popular at the time,so he and his friends would travel around from place to place following the band when school was not in session. When asked about his disc golf travels, he told me, “A local guy named Todd Branch and I became friends after he hit me with a disc. He invited me to go out on tour and they were doing a thing called ‘quit your job and play disc golf’.” Once on tour with Todd, he began to meet quite a few people who pushed him to be better. He explained that “I traveled with a guy named Al Schack who made fun of me for wanting to become a pro. I then went out to the very first tournament of the year when I turned pro and beat him.” After taking some time touring with Al Schack, Todd Branch, and Sue Stephens and putting a few more wins under his belt, Dave decided to take a winter off-season to be with Ken Climo. He told me that while staying with Climo, “I did a lot of work and made a jump to 4th in the world the year Schack left the tournament scene.” Dave had begun to really improve his game by leaps and bounds thanks to his competitive spirit and attitude. But it was not just his competitiveness that kept him going. He told me, “I wanted to be able to look at my son one day and tell him that at one point there was no one better than your dad at the thing he did. I was always told I wasn’t good enough and wouldn’t be able to compete, well look at me now.” Being able to get to where Dave is, is a feat in itself. He is constantly inspired by his competitors around him and the son and wife that he loves dearly. These motivations have molded Dave into the player and man he is today.
Dave was a long time Innova sponsored player. After Innova, Dave got picked up and was sponsored by Latitude 64 for some time. However, recently Dave has made another change is sponsorship. Hes chosen the interesting route of being sponsored by Infinite Discs. When asked about being on Team Infinite Discs he told me, “I did it because of the [Next Generation] tour. Before, I was one branded and it made it hard to promote other brands that were interested with the tour. It is also so relieving to not have a bag that is forced upon me with new discs and having to reteach myself.” Being sponsored by Infinite Discs is very different than being sponsored by most other manufacturers. While they do produce some of their own molds, they are also one of the largest disc golf retailers in the world. They sell many disc molds from many manufacturers, and as such, they do not require their sponsored players to throw exclusively Infinite Disc molds. So, Dave took the opportunity to better the Next Gen tour by placing himself on a team with no limitations on brands. While bettering the tour he also got the chance to better his play since he can now throw all the discs he is accustomed to throwing throughout his career. He told me, “knowing your plastic is almost more important than the quality of the plastic. It’s a confidence thing. All the players who stick with their brand do really well because they know their discs inside and out.” Getting to know your discs is something that Dave does very well. The amount of time he spent beating in his old discs to perfection is astounding. So, with having a sponsor that let him throw anything he wanted to, he dug out his old discs, and discovered some new gems to play around with as well.
When it comes to choosing favorites though, Dave had a hard time making a choice regarding favorite courses, and favorite molds. When it comes to discs, Dave decided to go a route that not many take when asked the question. “I don’t know if I have a specific disc that is my favorite. I like to throw overstable fairway drivers that I can learn to break in over time and control.” Instead of a particular mold, Dave decided on a specific type; which certainly makes sense given his love for getting to know a disc over time. He went on to say, “somewhere between an Eagle-X and a Triple-X would be the disc for me.” Both of those are great discs to be thrown but Dave needs to be able to understand how the disc flies over time. With that knowledge he feels as though he could make a shot land exactly where he wants it every time. When it comes to courses Dave has played quite a few in his tenure as a professional Disc Golfer. When asked about what his favorite could be, he said, “it would have a to be a course in Japan if I didn’t have to throw the lightweight plastic.” Japan has interesting rules regarding maximum weights of discs that may be thrown on courses, due to safety concerns. “But I think that Europe is the best place to play disc golf, Northern Europe specifically.” To no surprise, Northern Europe has been a hub for amazing disc golf for many years. Dave has spent a lot of time there and couldn’t find a bad thing to say about the places he has seen. He went on to say “they put on shows and it is a whole different atmosphere there. They have press conferences, interviews, the whole nine. To put it simply, they treat it as a legitimate sport where we still somewhat see it as a hobby.” The European disc golf scene is unlike any other, and Dave sees the differences clearly. He loves how the atmosphere brings out the competitive nature of the players and had to make Northern Europe his favorite disc golf course destination.
We’ve talked a lot so far about Dave’s history. But when asked about his future, The Next Gen Tour is at the forefront of his vision. To really portray what the Next Gen Tour is all about, I didn’t want to just pick and choose quotes. Dave is so passionate about the Next Gen Tour, we want to relay to you Dave’s vision. This is what he had to say. “It is the largest and richest amateur tour in the United States. We gave away two new cars and even a trip to Europe. The AM experience wasn’t all that great and there was a need in the amateur side to help them grow. We decided to create a tour to show the AMs a pro style tour. The idea is that you play for points in your state, and the highest point earners per state get an invite to the NG National Championships. When you get there, you get your meals catered, a $500 player pack, and you play at a world class course, for the biggest prizes in disc golf. The point system being used also lets you see how you rank regionally and nationally to win prizes at the end of the year. There are no bag limits, throw what you want. All divisions in amateur disc golf are open this year. Besides having fun this series is meant for people to get some coverage on them and get their name out there for sponsorships. The NG team is also meant as like a disc golf farm team system, that’s the best way to look at the NG team sponsored players. I would also like to add that this year we are doing it as a charity tour. At all the exclusive events, $2 per player is going to EDGE this year.”
While playing and participating in many events and traveling around the world as much as Dave has, the opportunity to grow the sport is something he has always prioritized. Dave has a long list of things he has done to help grow the sport. To start, he told me “I was a pioneer of college disc golf. Within two years, from scratch, the University of Oregon were disc golf college champions. As well as I have taught at many colleges, universities, and schools across the country all about disc golf.” The college scene in disc golf has grown substantially through the years. Dave was at the forefront of that scene and even lead his team to a winning year soon after he started. Since then with his B/A from Oregon he began to teach across the country and even earned an honorary master’s degree to teach disc golf. In addition to the work Dave has put into collegiate disc golf, he went on to tell me, “I was on the PDGA board for a long time, as a state coordinator. Now I am on the players committee for the PDGA. Essentially, the players committee will help the PDGA communicate to the pros and help create better rules going forward. When I was on the board, I was a part of changing some rules to better the sport.” Being on the PDGA board was no easy task and Dave took his responsibility with pride and passion. He wants to help grow the sport in any way he can and move past just clinics and being a Tournament Director, he wants to grow the sport from the inside out.
Now, when having a career such as Dave’s, giving advice is something you look forward to. He is a wealth of knowledge and had a good amount to say about teaching the game to others. When asked he told me, “practice your luck. If you want to be a great disc golfer, you have to learn all the shots. You have to have every shot in your bag to be able to compete.” Having every shot is something that is not talked about very often. It is often just understood that you need every shot, but it is something that some players may struggle with. But knowing them all puts you ahead of your competition. He continued by saying “you can’t expect to be at the top at every single event. To make it into the scene today you need to realize that you won’t cash every time and that you will have both good and bad days.” Wanting to get to the top is a good thing, but actually getting there is the challenge. Dave will be the first to admit that he hasn’t cashed at every single event he played in while he was ascending to the top and that’s okay. But learning from those experiences and trying to improve week in and week out is what he wants to get across.
Dave has done countless interviews and finding something he wanted to say that people hadn’t already heard many times was a challenge, but after giving it some thought, he told me, “I played alto saxophone and I still do. I played all throughout school and college. I also have a new hobby, that is collecting rocks. My wife Synthya and I have collected them in different countries for over the last five years.”
I would like to thank Dave for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to me and answer these questions. If you want to learn more about Dave, you can follow him on Instagram @frisbeefeldberg. You can visit his various sites at: http://davefeldberg.golf/ and learn more about the Next Gen tour at: https://nextgendiscgolf.com/. Also visit him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/flyfeldberg/. Look out for more from me coming soon!
Picture Credit goes to David Feldberg