Discmasters, the world’s first disc golf variety show

Most of you who read this blog know that I run School of Disc Golf as a side-gig, mainly because I thoroughly enjoy getting new players hooked on the game and helping those already addicted to get better. You’ve likely at some point read that I used to play all the tournaments I could get to, topped out at a 999 player rating (so close!) and for a time was an officer of the DeLaveaga Disc Golf Club.

What I don’t think I’ve mentioned in quite a while in this space – if ever – is another off-and-on project of mine- Discmasters TV. Since the first new episode in quite a while just hit YouTube I thought I’d take a little time to tell you about the show and its origins.

It all started when I came across a video on YouTube that covered a tournament in Santa Cruz called the Faultline Classic. I thought the video was well-produced given the obviously limited technical resources and decided to approach the guy who posted it with an idea I had been tossing around for some time. The concept was for a ‘lighter side of disc golf’ type variety show that would incorporate instruction, interviews, and cheesy, badly-acted comedy. It should come as no surprise the last part came naturally.

My original model for the show and indeed the name itself came from a cheaply-produced fishing show from the 80’s called Fishmasters that itself was a spoof on another show called Bassmasters. I liked the way Fishmasters turned their minimal technical capabilities (which I think were still greater than ours) into a positive by having it add to the comedic element of the show- knowing that anything we could muster would have the same limitations.

So as I said, I contacted the guy who posted that original Faultline Classic video and learned that he worked for Community TV in Santa Cruz, and the video had actually been broadcast there first, on local TV. At this point, let me introduce that guy- Ben Baker.

Ben had a year or two before that graduated from San Francisco State University with a film degree, and his job at the TV station was his first film-related position. He liked the idea as much as I did, and was even more excited when I told him that I had spoken to disc golf luminaries (and friends) Nate Doss, Valarie Jenkins and Avery Jenkins and gotten them to agree to participate as well. As luck would have it, the disc golf touring season had just ended and Nate, Val and Avery would be in Santa Cruz for the next couple months, enabling us to spend time in both the studio and on courses shooting footage.

A side-note about Ben: When we started the project he was enthusiastic about disc golf but pretty much a novice player. His sidearm shot had power yet score-wise he was all over the place. I even hustled a lunch out of him giving him a stroke per-hole at DeLa (that’s 28 strokes!). Ben was not altogether pleased with that introduction to disc golf gambling. That was a couple years ago. This past season, he captured the overall Championship for the venerable NorCal Series tour in the AM2 division. Good for you, Ben! I’d like to think that my instruction and Val, Avery and Nate’s excellence rubbed off on him.

As we envisioned, the show has covered lots of disc golf-related territory. There have been instructional posts by me (on the show known as Jack Tupp), Nate, Avery, Val and even one on putting by Nikko Locastro. There has been lots of tournament coverage, including the 2011 Pro World Championships and the Otter Open in Monterey.

Lots of disc golf celebrity appearances in addition to our regulars: Greg Barsby, Eric McCabe, and Nikko come to mind, but there have been plenty of others (you’ll have to watch the shows to find out who else.) Viewers also get introduced to players known better in Santa Cruz than the rest of the dg world, like Shasta Criss, Don Smith, Tony Tran, and Jon Baldwin (who became World Champion in the Masters division after his Discmasters appearance).

We  managed to get a cool logo created by Nate’s step-sister, the talented Audrey Karleskind. Even a cool theme song (lyrics by Yours Truly). And of course, there have been numerous bits of cheesy comedy.

My favorites are the ones that involve me playing bongo drums while Avery tries to putt, followed by Avery nailing me with a disc with Kung-Fu like accuracy, and magic minis that adversely affect my wardrobe. And of course there is the hipster-doofus named Jimmy Shank. Gotta love that guy. And possibly the best is yet to come as we shot some great footage in which Valarie stars. Stay tuned for that.

The just-released clip I mentioned earlier is a 48-minute studio interview of disc golf hall-of-famer Tom Schot and Monterey disc golf pioneer Merle Witvoet. It was shot just before the 2011 Pro Worlds so part of the talk is about that, but I think the most interesting discussion centers on the history of disc golf in Santa Cruz, of which Schot is principally responsible. Disc golf historians should find it interesting.

The best way to see all the episodes and other miscellaneous short clips is to visit the DiscmastersTV channel on YouTube. And if you’re eager to see new episodes, visit the Discmasters page on Facebook and let us know. Hope you enjoy watching them as much as we do shooting them.

Playing always trumps watching; Pinto Lakes manicured fairways

As a kid, I remember watching football games on TV. I’d be interested to watch my heroes perform, for sure, but when halftime came around I was much more excited about actually getting out to the street and doing it myself.

I think the same holds true for disc golf- or for that matter any sport that an average person can play well into middle age and even beyond. I love the fact that Discgolfplanet.tv enables me to see the top pros (especially Nate Doss, for whom I have a friendship and hometown-based rooting interest) compete in the top events as they happen. But if it’s a choice between watching them or heading out to Pinto Lake to play a competitive round myself . . . it’s not a difficult decision. Doing beats watching every time.

I mention this because it’s a truism that applies directly to what I believe are well intentioned but misguided efforts to introduce disc golf to the masses that have yet to discover its charms and benefits.

Pick any sport that people watch en masse – either live or on TV – and they fall into one of two categories: Either they have spectator appeal because they are difficult and/or dangerous, like cliff diving, downhill ski racing, or (people DO watch it) figure skating; or, on the other side of the spectrum, it’s a sport we can all play, or have played at some point in our lives, like baseball, soccer, football, basketball, tennis, or . . . golf.

In the case of the second category – into which disc golf falls – there needs to be a critical mass of people that play the sport before there can be any hope of it being attractive as a spectator sport, since the only reason we’d watch such a sport is the fact that we identify with it – however remotely – as participants. Yet the overwhelming majority of disc golf promoters seem to be approaching their promotion with an exactly opposite approach. They keep trying to gain major sponsorship for our sport which is neither dangerous or difficult, in the hope that that will then generate the attention and/or funds required to get it broadcast on television, which will then make it appeal to the masses. Puzzling, no?

Speaking of Pinto Lake (I spoke about it in the 2nd paragraph of this post, if you didn’t notice), that course is now my clear and away my favorite in Santa Cruz county- despite (and in part because of) the aggravation that several of the holes routinely bring. The upper meadow holes are now being mowed regularly, thanks to a donated riding mower and an obsessive course patron saint. The fairways are carved out of natural grasses and brush, and each one is bordered with OB markers and rope on each side. They are as pleasing to the eye as they are displeasing to the score. For disc golfer on the Central Coast they offer quite a different type of challenge. Check it out:

The ‘Worldwide Broadcast TV Premier’ of DiscmastersTV

So here’s the lowdown on the TV show: We’ve got the first episode complete and online on our YouTube channel here. We have enough footage already for the first four episodes, but will be shooting more soon.

We now also know when the show will air on local Santa Cruz cable. If you’re interested in helping it get aired in a different community, let me know. Here are the initial Santa Cruz show times:

+    Sat    05/21/11    03:00 PM    Channel 27/73
+    Fri    05/20/11    08:30 PM    Channel 27/73
+    Thu    05/19/11    06:30 PM    Channel 27/73
+    Tue    05/17/11    01:00 PM    Channel 27/73
+    Mon    05/16/11    09:00 PM    Channel 27/73

Future episodes feature Nikko Locastro, GreGory Barby, Jon Baldwin, Shasta Criss, and a bunch of other local and Pro players. Enjoy!

A Discmasters teaser plus, uh, "Gourd Disc Golf’

Masters Cup 2009: after 56 holes

First of all, we’re down to the last 28 holes. One more round, and so far no aspect of the tourney has been a disappointment. The weather continues to warm (if anything it’s been too warm), with wind a non-factor today. The course – despite the gorgeous conditions – isn’t giving up outrageously low scores (less than 20 percent of the Open division is under par). And the final round features a top group of Greg Barsby, Nate Doss, Nikko Locastro, and Ken Climo, all either -12 or -11. Within striking distance are Josh Anton, Kyle Crabtree, Stevie Rico, John Child, and Dave Feldberg.

I’t be great to see Nate Finally win on the course where he grew up, but more than anything I’m looking forward to a close finish no matter who wins. Now on to what really matters. Me! : )
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I’m at +6, tied for 8th in the Masters division (35 players), 12 strokes outta the lead.

I can play better, but with only three birdies and nine single bogeys I’m at least sticking to the gameplan and not giving strokes away. Not too many, anyway. What’s hurt me more than anything else is not birdying the three shorts holes on the course (8a, 17, and 21) except for one on 21. But all in all, considering the game I’ve showed up with Friday and Today, +6 ain’t too bad. I’ve hit every putt inside 30 feet except one, so now all I have to do is get a few of those looks for birdie rather than par! Now it’s time for a hot tub, another beer, sleep . . . then 28 more holes.