Like me, I am sure most of you want to know more about the behind the scenes of the sport of Disc Golf and potentially were your favorite parks come from. Well I got a lot of information about these topics from Sales Manager of Discmania and Course designer for DiscGolfParks, Austin Montgomery.
When talking to Austin three words came to my mind to describe him, humble, passionate, and excited. When I asked him about how being a part of two companies was he simply said, “It is a lot of work to be a designer and manage two brands, but it is worth it every day I do it.” He is the type of guy who does not stray away from hard work. A little bit more about him is that he “has been Disc Golfing since 2006 and was originally sponsored by Discmania.” Go figure, right? Not only was he competitive in the professional scene, but, he was also a collegiate Disc Golfer. He explained to me that “I made a Disc Golf team at Colorado State University and in 2012 we won the collegiate national championship” which makes him an all-around athlete. But he told me that “I found my way out there (California) for an interview and landed the job on the design team and worked my way up through the ranks.” Which is not an easy task, especially in a job that is as fun as his.
When it comes to course design, the process is easy once you know what you are doing. There are plenty of steps that you must take though. Austin explained to me that “Once we get the call or the paperwork filled out for the job, we go out and survey the land. The first day we just go get a feel for the area.” He explained that they want the designers to make sure they have a grasp of the natural ebb and flow of the area before they start drawing. The next step in the process is “laying out the skeleton holes, the ones that people are going to remember when they walk away from the course.” He said that “we usually try to have at least 3 or 4 skeleton holes on a course.” Having these holes pre-planned is remarkable too me. The idea of making sure that each course is memorable in their respective ways is smart and will make sure you talk about that course for months afterwards. We all have that one hole in mind that we know from our favorite course. Those are the important ones to get down first. Then after those are picked out, “we mark all the holes up and then the customer builds the course, takes about a month usually from start to finish.” Which, seems like a reasonable amount of time for some of the courses out there. After asking him about the process I wanted to see how long the course would need to be up for a tournament, which he said simply “it depends, C-tier tournaments can usually play the day after its built, but A tiers and up, we usually think a year after the course is built for the tournament to be played on it.” At first, I thought he was crazy for that wait time. But, I thought about it, and realized that a year gives people time to play on it and figure out if the course is really what they want for a high-level tournament. With tournaments of that caliber, the players obviously want the best there is within the courses.
When it comes to courses, we all have our own ideas of what makes a course good. Whether that be it being open fairways or having low ceiling shots in the woods. The opinions of everyone will differ. Personally, I like courses that are technical and are in the woods, open fairways are not as fun or thought provoking. When I asked Austin, he said that “Obviously 18 holes that are memorable is perfect, but I’ll take 4-9 for a good course.” Not only are memorable holes a key factor for him but he said that “Safety is my number one priority, I hate courses that are unsafe.” Spoken like someone who has been around the game for a long time. Especially with newcomers coming into the sport all the time, course safety is key on any course. But, just like me, Montgomery said “I want a course that has options, one that afterwards you are mentally tired from playing. Something that makes you feel like you are playing actual golf and that each shot is valuable.” I could not agree more with what he said. Courses that are the most technical and have the most options are the best ones to play. Not necessarily the common opinion, but that his and mine.
So, when it comes to the course design job, I had to think he had a favorite course that he has helped design. He wanted to stress the fact that this course is one the he only helped design, not made originally by him. The one he told me was “Pessimist Disc Golf course in Fort Morgan, Colorado. The design was originally made by John Berg and I only had to do a re-design on it.” He could not keep talking about the course itself. He said that “The course is phenomenal, par is 62 and it is not an easy par. It is named the pessimist for a reason.” He went on to explain that within tournament play, you play the first course which is called the Optimist in the morning, then, you play the Pessimist later in the day. Which I think is a clever idea for the course itself. I am glad that someone shares the same point of view that I do with courses.
With all this knowledge, to end the interview I wanted to know what his favorite part of the job was. The answer was simple “Just enjoying it, I feel like I am growing the sport each day. I love being able to throw prototypes, people would kill for this job and I am so glad to have it.” After this answer, I realized that if we have people in the Disc Golf scene like him, we will grow exponentially. All he wants to do is make the sport grow and have fun doing it. He is a passionate man about his career and he will do his best to make the sport known.
I want to thank Austin Montgomery for taking time out of his day to let me call and interview him, he was an awesome guy to interview and I hope to hear more from him soon. If you would like to see more on Discmania or DiscGolfPark you can visit their sites at discmania.net or discgolfpark.net respectively.
Picture credit goes to discgolfpark.net