Story by Zach Parcell
It has been just a few weeks since the announcement of the Disc Golf World Tour and we’ve already seen Paul McBeth and Simon Lizotte agreeing to be Athlete Ambassadors for the tour next year. Today, the third big name in disc golf is joining the fun, but not as a competitor, but as a commentator.
2009 PDGA World Champion Avery Jenkins has been named the co-commentator for the 2016 Disc Golf World Tour. Jenkins will work along side Jamie Thomas to provide a competitor’s point of view on the action on the course and to help with the Disc Golf Metrix stats after each round.
We talked with Jenkins to learn more about this new position and what else he has planned for 2016.
The 2016 disc golf season is shaping up to be one of the biggest in history and a big part of that is the new Disc Golf World Tour (DGWT). What were your thoughts when you first heard about the DGWT?
“The 2016 World Disc Golf Tour is something that we as touring professionals always wanted. A tour that focuses on being truly professional in all aspects. It’s something that is needed if we want to progress as a professional sport. We’ve been on the brink for way too long and I believe that this tour is going to be a huge step in the right direction. In all my years of competing, I have only dreamt of such a tour that will truly take Disc Golf to the next level of world-wide media coverage giving Disc Golf mass exposure.”
“To bring everyone up to speed, the Disc Golf World Tour is a series of professionally run Disc Golf competitions around the World. The DGWT will showcase the best players, the most exciting courses, and the most prestigious events in one global pro tour. The DGWT will exclusively feature ‘Open’ tournaments. All players regardless of age or gender are eligible to earn qualifying points, and once qualified, compete in DGWT events.”
“All DGWT events will have upgraded event productions where we are focusing on the fans. People will be able to follow all of the DGWT events through the internet and/or local and national TV stations. Unprecedented professional media coverage is the top priority of the DGWT. Each event will be painstakingly planned and executed to give the viewers the best experience.”
You’re going to see the 2016 DGWT from a front row seat thanks to a new position for you. You’ve agreed to be the new disc golf commentator for the DGWT. Congrats on the new role! Tell us about what you’ll be doing.
“Thank you so much! I will be commentating live for the Disc Golf World Tour events in US along side my talented co-host, Jamie Thomas. I will hopefully also be available to do more commentary for the European events this summer as well but we’re currently discussing the scheduling for that portion of the tour. It’s something that I’ve always appreciated when spectating the sport, the incredible action of Disc Golf but this time on a high end media production. It’s extremely exciting!”
“I will be able to utilize my Professional Disc Golf player expertise to give the audience the full experience of the event by analyzing the play-by-play action of these world-class competitors who will be playing some of the best courses in the world. I will also be marketing and promoting the Disc Golf World Tour events throughout the season as well as elevating the sport of Disc Golf.”
You’ve worked in front of the camera before, most notably with the Deep in the Game series you did with Discmania a few years ago. Many don’t like being in front of the camera like that. Have you always had a desire to get into the media side of things?
“It’s something that I have definitely grown accustomed to with all of the Deep in the Game Instructional Videos, along with other various video projects that I’ve done with SpinTV recently. Being in front of a camera is something that I’ve gotten used to as a player for many years and it is something that I have to get comfortable with as I realize that the spectacular action of our sport is best viewed in video.”
The working relationship between you and Jussi Meresmaa runs deep. It certainly must be exciting to join forces again with Meresmaa’s Spin18, the group behind the DGWT. Talk about your relationship with him.
“Jussi and I have been great friends and competitors for many years. We share the same great obsession for growing Disc Golf and we both have dedicated our lives to it so far. No one can ever question the passion that we have for this sport. Jussi has an incredible vision for the future. His persistent drive and relentless pursuit will make Disc Golf the best that it can be in years to come. The sky is NOT the limit for Jussi.”
“We have shared countless ideas on a variety of Disc Golf topics in order to find a way to make it better regarding product advertising, project marketing, event promotion, etc. It’s something that he excels at given his previous career in the business. His extensive knowledge of the Disc Golf Industry has made him the successful Disc Golf Businessman that he is today. I believe that our comprehensive understanding of the game combined with our overall Disc Golf experience has made us a phenomenal team as I look forward to many more exciting ventures in the future.”
With the announcement that you’ll be working as a commentator, does this mean you’re stepping away from the competition side of professional disc golf?
“I have played Disc Golf for the past 30-years of my life and I’ve competed as an Elite Touring Player for the past 16-years. It’s been a great run but things will be slowing down a bit as I plan on dialing back the tournament schedule. I still plan on a playing a few sentimental events and other extraordinary tournaments including the World Championships to keep my streak of 18 consecutive appearances. I will no longer be traveling as much on the PDGA National Tour now that I have started a family and the business side of Disc Golf is starting to prove successful. I will continue to be present at many of the Major Championships and the Disc Golf World Tour events as I want to see those become more professional.”
Looking back at your playing career, you’ve certainly accomplished a lot and have a lot you can be proud of. Is there anything you wish you would have done differently or are you pleased with how things played out?
“I’m very happy with my career as a professional so far and I’ve definitely accomplished a lot throughout that time. I could always look back at shots that I could have made or tournaments that could have won but my overall performance has gotten me to my current position within the sport. I never would have thought when I first started playing that I would be traveling the world playing competitively. I attribute so much of my success to this incredible sport. I always like to reflect and take in these amazing life moments as I’m very gracious for the many opportunities that I have been presented throughout my career. I truly appreciate what Disc Golf has given me. I will be associated with Disc Golf and it will always be a part of me for the rest of my life.”
In many professional sports, we see many top level competitors move into a TV/radio analyst role in their respective sport. Just a few years ago, an opportunity like this in disc golf wasn’t possible. Where do you see the sport heading in next three to five years?
“It’s the natural progression in sports from competitor to sports analyst. I’m thrilled at the chance to deliver the best in Disc Golf broadcasting with the premier leader in Disc Golf media, Spin18 Productions. This sport has always been on the 5 to 10 year plan of some catalyst really sparking the massive international expansion but in my 30-years, it’s been a very gradual growth. I see two of the following main goals of DGWT making a huge impact on the sport as we know it today: (1) To manage the global Disc Golf tour (DGWT), where the elite disc golfers compete and (2) To expand the reach of Disc Golf by increasing its mainstream appeal through continually improving the quality of the events and increasing media visibility.”
“I have full faith that this unprecedented DGWT will build Disc Golf up as a globally legitimate sport around the world as it proves to be a very viable and business model to increase our overall exposure. Of one of my many goals, I want Disc Golf to one day be a household name.”
Have any predictions for the 2016 DGWT?
“I predict that the first year of the Disc Golf World Tour to be a successful one. Everything has been thoroughly thought out and accounted for including the tournament locations, the addition of players statistics, and extensive media visibility with the support from several international commercial partners. This tour will be a chance to advance the sport of Disc Golf with a professional world-wide tour that will showcase the best players in the world while providing extensive coverage for Disc Golf fanatics throughout the planet. I’m very excited for what DGWT is going to produce, this year and in many years to come. I’m so very grateful to be part of it all!”
Thanks to Jenkins for the insight and congrats again on the new position. The 2016 Disc Golf World Tour begins play March 10, 2016 in La Mirada, California.