Player Spotlight Series, Part 5 : Dave Feldberg

March is here and we are less than 8 days away from starting the Disc Golf World Tour at La Mirada. As we make our final preparations, we’ll be winding down the Player Spotlight Series this week.

Our next player is 2008 World Champion and seven-time Major champion Dave Feldberg:

You ended your off-season a little earlier than others, running and playing in the Maricopa Meadows Open in January. How was that experience?

I actually went longer than a lot of people, I just didn’t play in a lot of big tournaments at the end of the season. I ran tournaments with my other half Cynthia Whitaker. We were out until December, so we were some of the last ones in. I got back here to Arizona, and three and a half weeks of being in Arizona and I’m running that huge tournament. My off-season this year didn’t really exist. We were hoping to get one but it didn’t happen. Running the tournament was awesome because it was the beginning to the Latitude 64 Next Generation Tour. We have events run by professionals for amateurs. That way, there is a way for them to see that they are the focus on the course. When you go out on Sunday, the best player on the course is the amateur, so they get a gallery and learn how to be professional. That’s a key ingredient that we’re missing in our sport is how to groom these players from Advanced to professional. Teach them how to be a player, teach them how to play in front of a crowd. It’s going to be exciting.

Two great rounds and a win aren’t a bad start to the year, either. What’s your main focus for the 2016 season?

For the 2016 season, I do have some new goals. You know, I was so focused the last couple of years on growing Latitude 64 and the team and the Trilogy concept, and I would say my game really suffered because of it. And my family and my other half believe if I give a really good effort, I still have a couple of big years in me because if I can stay in the top 5 in the world and not be practicing at all, then probably I have it in me somewhere. So, I’m really committing again this season to doing a full workout routine and I’m going to start training more on the disc golf side of it. And I’m doing P90X again. When I had my best seasons, that’s what I did was those P90X workouts. Now I’m doing it again, and I just feel stronger and feel like I can compete more for the titles, and I’m learning to be more like Ken Climo. I’m not going to be playing in everything. I’m trying to really focus in on playing the big events. It takes just as much effort to win a C-tier as it does a NT, don’t let people trick you. The shots still need to be made and you still need to focus.

Right after kicking off the National Tour at the Memorial, you head to California to start the Disc Golf World Tour. What are you looking forward to about the DGWT?

What I’m looking forward to about this World Tour is seeing cohesiveness. I understand that a lot of people have promoted a lot of different tours throughout the last 20-30 years, but I like to see that all of the events run the same. I’m looking for similar format, similar feel, similar staff. And if we can do that, then the players having a consistency to it and the payouts are consistent with each event. Then, I think people can get behind it more and support the idea of these tours, and we can grow. I know Jussi is also going to put a big effort into media and getting us on TV in different markets, and it’s important for those people to know what to expect, too. Like knowing the finals are at 2:00 on Sunday so they can plan their lives around knowing that this is a good time to watch disc golf.

What do you enjoy most about getting to travel for disc golf events?

I’ve been doing it for so long, that it’s different. In the beginning, I just wanted to see the world. The idea of leaving the United States in your early 20’s is just exciting. And so, just going to different places and seeing how people act in different cultures and meeting people of different cultures, that was the best part. Then, I went into a stage where I thought it was a mission to help worldwide disc golf grow, and it was really important to me to go country to country to teach clinics and prepare people to learn how to play disc golf, which they’ve never heard of. That was something I was really into for a long time, and I gave a great effort. Nowadays, what I look forward to is seeing this whole thing coming together, and I go to these countries and they’re organized now and they have tournaments and there are kids playing. They’re talking about leagues with hundreds of players showing up. That’s what I’m enjoying the most and seeing my old friends that I’ve met there in the past and seeing them succeed at a sport that I love and knowing that they had that in them. Seeing that great growth from Finland through all of Northern Europe and other parts of the world is a great feeling, and that’s one of the things I like most about it.

What’s been your favorite thing to teach?

Two things. I can’t break it down to just one. One is understanding what the disc actually is doing. I love the enlightenment when you explain to someone that’s been playing disc golf why a disc does what it does, and understanding the technology and the science behind it. I love seeing that part because you see the bells go off—ding ding ding. The other thing that I enjoy teaching people is 90 percent or higher of people learning to play disc golf make the same mistake. It’s that they have to go to the store and buy a disc that’s too overstable. To play their first game, they have to turn a disc over and throw an S curve, so they develop this move where all their weight is on their toe and they rotate on their toe and it creates this rounding motion that is a habit. Almost everyone that comes to my clinics does that, so teaching people that you have to get on lines, and pull on lines. Just teaching people that disc golf is biomechanical—it’s not opinion. It was opinion when I started, but now it’s been broken down, and it’s a move and it can be taught. And I think we need to get that information out to people as soon as we can. There are a lot of great athletes out there, and Cynthia and I talk about this a lot. There are a lot of great athletes out there and if they were taught the correct way from the beginning, we’d have a lot more top players.

If you could help someone improve in one sentence, what is it?

Wow. I’m thinking about this one, this is a tough question. I think I would say, “Understand that disc golf is a biomechanical sport, and there is a proper way to learn it.” My number one tip to beginners is to understand that there is a correct way to throw the disc, and that it may look different than others, but there is a correct way to do it.

La Mirada is home to a lot of history, and the first DGWT event. What stands out to you about the course?

La Mirada always stands out to me as a golfer’s place. It’s a place where the people who are playing the best disc golf at the time are unbeatable. When I was in my prime, I was unbeatable there. Climo was unbeatable there. I played McBeth there last year when he was having his best year, and he wasn’t beatable last year. That’s how it is. When you’re playing the best you can play, that place really shows it. There’s no luck. It’s also one of the very strange places in the United States, or the world even, where people who you’ve never heard of will come out of the woodwork and and put up professional scores at that tournament because California has a lot of talent. A good example is when Bobby Musick, a local kid from across the street came out and whooped me and Ken Climo in a final 9, and there have been many others. I will predict there will be at least one local kid in the top 10 that nobody’s heard of. One last thing about La Mirada. It’s where my mentor of the sport ran his tournaments, and that was Tim Selinske. I have a lot of memories there. And other mentors at the time, Dave Dunipace and Sam Ferrans, would meet me and Avery Jenkins there and play doubles on Saturdays when me and Avery worked at the [Innova] factory. They would take us to dinner afterwards, and we were young players, so those are my memories of La Mirada.

Thank you to Dave for taking the time to talk to us, as he kicks off his tour season this week. Be sure to check back for our final Player Spotlight Series interview and all of the latest information surrounding the Disc Golf World Tour.

Previous Player Spotlight articles:

Part 1 : Paul McBeth
Part 2 : Ricky Wysocki
Part 3 : Simon Lizotte
Part 4 : Nate Doss