After a long time of back and forth, I finally got the chance to talk to Zach Melton and hear his story. His story is one of a kind and it was worth the wait. It was even worth the late-night phone call while Zach was driving to the South Florida Open. Give his story a read and enjoy!
Starting disc golf is different for each person that plays this sport. For Zach, it was a slow start at first, but it picked up rapidly. Zach told me “My older brother was talking to me about a game called frisbee golf when I was in early high school.” He didn’t seem to be all that interested at first, but he soon realized that he caught the bug. He told me that “3 or 4 years later my buddies were asking about disc golf and we then went and played a round.” Just like that, it was history, “we would play about 2-4 rounds per day, I think I even bought a new disc a week back then.” Zach played every day that summer and the passion for the sport grew each day he played.
Zach has been playing disc golf for ten years up to this point. Ten years is a long time to continue with a sport and I wanted to know who or what inspired Zach to keep going. Zach let me know that “the love of the game keeps me going. I can go out and play a round by myself and enjoy it or I can go out with a group of 6-10 and have just as much fun.” You could hear the joy in voice when talking about the game of disc golf, he loves the game through and through and it keeps him going. A coupe of the best parts of the sport for him are “I just love watching a shot go off and watch it fly through the air. I also love the people, just getting to meet people that care about the sport as much as I do is awesome.” Which are both accurate about the sport, the community and people are amazing, and I couldn’t agree more with watching a disc fly, there is something about it that is mesmerizing.
There are many different levels of disc golf like intermediate, advanced, amateur, pro, etc. Eventually people will want to take their next step and play in the open division and star accepting cash. Taking that next step can often be difficult, the open division is where the best players play, and the competition is often daunting. Not for Zach, however, he told me “I am a pretty competitive person and as soon as I started playing, I wanted to figure out how to get better.” This drove his playing and he eventually got his PDGA membership in 2009. He explained that “I played 4 advanced tournaments that year then started to play in open towards the end of the year to play a more competitive scene. Got last cash at timber ridge.” But, what he didn’t know was that after accepting that payout he was considered “pro” and could no longer compete in lower levels. As he played he became friends with Will Schusterick in 2009 and they found the drive to play more and compete with one another. Then in 2015 Zach told me that “Will and I had a goal to get out to the Memorial and play, and we did. It evolved form there.” This trip out to the memorial built a foundation that would be what Zach uses to get out to events. He told me that “from that point I would drive to my events and would spend 14 hours driving nowadays when I wouldn’t go farther than 5 back then.” This system helps him get a re-charge before the next event and helps him get home to see his family. 14 hours may seem like a long time, but for Zach, that’s just a normal weekend drive.
As some of you, or hopefully all of you know, Zach is sponsored by Dynamic Discs. When asked about how he felt about working for them he has nothing but positive things to say. He told me “playing for DD is incredible, I appreciate being able to represent them.” He explained that “they make it feel like a family. Like, I could text anyone right now and they would text me back and are willing to take care of me.” They want to do everything they can to help their players and Zach couldn’t say enough about them. The biggest thing that he told me about them was “they care about the product, I want to be out representing them.” Which is something special, a real want to be out representing a company. Being sponsored is one thing, but a real WANT to be out there showing people what a company is about is a true love for a product.
Favorite courses and discs are hard to imagine when you actually have to put your mind to it. So, after some deliberation and thinking Zach finally decided the answer to that question. No surprise at all when Zach told me his favorite disc was “the getaway, it is just fantastic.” The getaway is Dynamic Discs newest fairway driver. To Zach the Getaway is “a thunderbird but farther, it’s a 9 speed overstable/stable fairway driver that will get you 400 feet on a rope.” The getaway has been the talk of the town and for Zach it is a staple in his bag he carries about 2-3 biofuzion ones at a given time. He couldn’t talk about how great this disc and how everyone needs to have one in their bag, it is a must have for a fairway driver. While the favorite disc question stumped him, the favorite course question did not. Zach described an amazing sounding course in Virginia. He told me “It’s called Hawk Hollow, its on a cow farm in the middle of nowhere. It is 18 holes and turns into 27 for a tournament and you need a 9-person team to compete.” He went on to say “6 of the 9 people weren’t playing when we got our waitlist spot for the Hawk Hollow open and the open was one of the first tournaments I won.” This course holds a special place in Zach’s heart and he makes it to that tournament each year. Also, in the time of writing this article, the course is closed for calving season which is the first time I have ever seen a course be closed for that. The other course that Zach talked highly about was Lake Marshall built by Gary Hutt. He described the course to be “3 different courses on this giant property with a lake in the middle of it and has been worked on for the last 2-3 years.” He loves this course so much he went on to say, “now seeing what the course is, I won’t miss a tournament if there is one there.” That’s a pretty big statement for a course, but he loves both those courses so much that he will be there no matter what. My words can’t do these courses justice so if you are interested you can look up Hawk Hollow in Spotsylvania, VA and Lake Marshall in Montross, VA.
As 2018 wraps up 2019 is starting to come around for the disc golf season. Zach is looking forward to the season and building off the momentum of 2018. He told me going into 2019 “it will be a lot of the same, play a lot of tournaments, play more pro tour and national tour, play more of the bigger ones and more of the mid-west coast events.” Which is exciting to hear, especially since I live on the west coast, I would love to see Zach come out this way. He also explained that “I want to play masters, I built up some momentum and want to build on what I had going on at the end.” So, taking the end of the season and building it into a strong start is the main goal. Which is something that I think is difficult to do while in an “off season” so to speak. I believe that Zach can achieve this and seems headstrong on making 2019 a strong season.
One of the most important aspects of the sport itself is trying to grow the sport. I think that trying to grow the sport is the goal of each player when we play whether we are conscious about it or not. Zach is all about communication when it comes to growing the sport. He was adamant when he told me “I try to respond to everybody and try to not let a single message go through. I want to not let a message or comment go unnoticed.” Which is really great to see from a touring professional. It seems almost daunting to try and talk to a pro, but Zach is trying to do a good job of being talk able. He also went on to add “I try to be encouraging and answer people’s questions when they ask for form help, I just try to be accessible and be there to respond to the people.” Growing the sport does not necessarily mean having to do clinics or specifically help out people on a course. Just being available to the community is great and Zach doing his best to answer the questions for anybody is amazing and truly growing the sport in his own way.
Advice comes in all shapes and forms form each individual person. Some believe in field work, other in playing rounds. Zach’s advice is one of a kind and worth its weight in gold. Zach’s advice was “playing in bigger events and playing in more events is a true test to measure yourself. But, just trying to improve isn’t good enough, you have to remember who you are.” When asked about what he meant by that he told me “we all have our own style and we try to reach the same goal in so many ways. Don’t forget about what you do and don’t lose sight of that, do what you do and do it well.” That advice resonates with me, I think that we are all trying to emulate one another when we don’t have to. Zach wants us to follow our strengths and weaknesses and not to lose sight of what got us into the sport itself. Always improve but don’t try to be a different person while doing it.
Answering my last question can be a doozy for some, so, I let Zach take some time to figure out how he responded. Often times it is hard to think of what people may not know about you already especially if you are an open book like Zach. But Zach had this to say, “I want everyone to know, that I am the best shooter in disc golf. And I am talking about basketball. Most people know I love to play but I feel pretty confident putting it out there that I am the best shooter out of ANYBODY.”
I would like to thank Zach Melton for taking the time out of his day to answer my questions and letting me talk to him in general. If you would like to see more about Zach you can watch “A disc golf life” featuring Zach here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozs4mqPQHZQ. You can also follow him on various forms of social media like Instagram @zmelton38631. If you would like to support Zach further you can find his dye max discs here: https://www.dynamicdiscs.com/Zach-Melton-DyeMax-Touring-Player-Series-p/3302.htm. Be on the lookout for more coming soon from me!
Picture credit goes to Zach Melton