Around the Bay Area Disc Golf Course, there is a story of a teenage boy a few years ago who made a throw, ran to where the disc landed, threw again, and ran again. Over and over.
“I played at least five rounds a day – that’s how I learned,” said the player Robert Burridge, now 20. “That’s how my father and I got our practice. We ran a lap after school and just kept going. “
That work ethic paid off as Burridge, a junior kinesiology major at the University of Michigan, recently became a professional disc golfer.
Burridge is a 2019 graduate of Clear Lake High School and lives in Pasadena’s Brookwood subdivision.
Both parents were avid Ultimate Frisbee players and encouraged their son to follow suit. Around 2017, Burridge began working on his disc golf game and played on several local courses including Kirby Park course in Taylor Lake Village, the former links at 1776 Park in Friendswood, and Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock.
Prize money and sponsors
After playing at the amateur level for a while, Burridge found himself attending a National Amateur Disc Golf Tour (NADGT) event held in Austin October 28-31. His father, also a Robert, also took part in competitions.
“I’m the third Robert Burridge in a row, but we all have different first names,” said the younger Burridge.
His father played in the middle class. When his run was over, he helped his son.
“It was great for me to have him with me,” said Burridge. “For the last two laps I got to have him as a caddy to me and being able to talk all the time was great. It was a great experience to have him with me. “
The overall play of the younger Burridge during the tournament was also a nice experience.
“At the finals, the best amateurs who haven’t accepted more than $ 1,000 in cash are still real amateurs, and they can play for a large amount of money to get started in the pro,” he said. “I got eighth place out of (about 317) people.”
After that, a decision had to be made.
“You had a choice of either taking the money and going pro or taking 75 percent of it in (goods) that they sold and remaining an amateur for as long as you wanted,” Burridge said.
He took the $ 1,150 prize pool; So now he’s a professional. Burridge has also won some sponsorships for Innova Champion Discs and Gorilla Disc Golf.
There is money to be made on the professional tour. First place in a tournament can earn the winner several thousand dollars in prize money. Usually those who place in the top third also get some green.
Still focused on college
Despite entering the pro ranks, Burridge said he has no plans to become a disc golf street fighter.
“My plan now is to graduate,” he said. “In the summer I plan to go to some major tournaments, but I don’t plan on flying too many places. I plan to compete in big tournaments (in the Michigan area) instead of flying to California or Portland (Ore). “
Burridge is a bit cautious about the competition.
“One of the things I try to focus on at a tournament is not to take it too seriously because if you screw up a punch you are in that ‘I screwed it up’ mind space for two extra holes, what can mess you up even more. So I’m really trying to get into the “whatever happens, happens, just do your best,” thought space, “he said.
Burridge can travel a slice.
“I can usually throw further than the people I play against,” he said. “My strength is my driving route. For a drive, I comfortably throw 475 (feet) accurate. “
While that’s a long, long road, some players keep throwing it.
“There are pros who can throw 550 (feet),” said Burridge. “I can throw this far into a field, but I don’t know how exactly. I can throw 550 with my backhand. About 450 or 475 to be exact. With my forehand it is about 350 exactly, at a distance of up to about 400. “
Though Burridge tries to keep his emotions in check on the track, the ability to be a long rider can be a relief.
“I enjoy it because I go out and say, ‘Hmm, I’ve got enough space to really throw one here,'” he said. “I came out of a bad hole in the NADGT final, and a couple of holes later there was a hole where I could just throw as hard as I wanted as long as I wasn’t doing anything too stupid, and I think I’ve got 540 of them receive.
“I was happy to let go of some anger.”
A game of timing and form
At 5 feet-11, Burridge is not a bulky specimen; his ability to fling a disc therefore comes from other talents.
“It’s a lot of timing as well as form,” he said. “The first thing I tried to learn was form and I’m still working on form (because) when you have a bad habit it can be really hard to break.
“It’s very important to see it when it first happens and to be able to say, ‘I have to fix this now.'”
His kinesiology studies helped him solve a problem.
“I recently had elbow pain when throwing the forehand; So I said, ‘What am I doing that is causing pain?’ “Burridge said. “I put a lot of stress on my elbow and threw it more like a baseball.
“When you see pitchers throwing with their side clearance, throw their straight arm back with their elbow. This is what my forehand looked like, and I have to say it hurt.
“So I try not to focus on power. I sacrifice strength for health, and it can hurt with limited holes, but if I can stay healthy, that’s all I really care about. “
Burridge has helped other disc golfers.
“When people ask me for advice on how to throw something, I almost always say, ‘This is how it should feel.’ Don’t “do that”, but “that’s what it feels like when I do that”. For example, if you have a torque on your arm and where you should feel it. “
John DeLapp is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at [email protected]