I was given the opportunity to caddy for Team Innova and Team SDG member, Uriyah Kelley, on Saturday when he competed in the Don’t Poke the Bear B-Tier at Woodland Valley. It was pretty cool because I’ve never caddied before, and I hadn’t gotten to see Uriyah throw in person yet. It was definitely an eye opening experience and it’s lit a little fire in me. I’m going to make sure I practice more so I don’t lose to him by too much when we play in the future.
First things first, watch out world, Uriyah is here to win. As I watched him warm up with fellow SDG Team member, Nate Delisle, he was bouncing like any other 11 year old would do. Laughing, running around to his friends and saying hi, sinking some putts in between; it was like Uriyah didn’t have any nerves. When we got to the first teepad he was joking with his cardmates about beating them last weekend. But when that 2 minute warning came, and the start call chorused through the woods, Uriyah went into competition mode.
He’s a forehand wizard in the woods. I mean he really just seems to hit his line almost every time. As I watched him rip Innova Wraiths and Innova Mambas down the fairways I was intrigued with his line selections. There were a lot of things that stood out to me about his game, but I want to talk about his fearlessness. He’s ready to throw a tight line that I’d avoid if it means a better landing zone for him. His scramble game is up there with anyone I’ve ever played with; he was using Innova Rats and Innova Caimans for most upshots and it didn’t matter backhand or sidearm. And Uriyah only had to 2 putt a couple of times, I think that’s a big key to his success. I never thought he’d miss on the putting green when he stepped up.
He throws within his capabilities for speed and it’s awesome to see. As an 11 year old he’s not big enough or strong enough to rip on max weight discs (and he knows that and accepts it). Uriyah has a bag with plenty of light plastic and only a few heavy discs. Throwing lighter discs for Uriyah gets him additional distance and he’s got plenty of control so he knows what they’ll do. So often folks get a max weight disc but that’s not what you want for max distance unless you’re playing in MPO.
He ended the first round a single stroke back of the lead, and talked the entire lunch to me about how he really shouldn’t have been even and he should have had 3 or 4 of those strokes back. I could relate, as I feel that way almost every round that I’ve left some strokes out there. I guess we all probably feel that way after a round, unless you shoot the course record.
When the second round started we’d loaded the cart back up with snacks (important for caddy morale) and we headed on our way to the lead card for AM2. Uriyah began the round by taking a stroke on the card to get into a tie for first place. Despite taking a double bogey on one of the later holes he never gave up his share of the lead after the 19th hole. Uriyah took down the event by 2 strokes for his 3rd win in 8 days! He’s on fire at the moment so every AM2 in New England had better watch out.
The thing I hear the most about Uriyah and other kids who are incredible at disc golf is “I wish I started at that age.” It’s a common lament, and I’ve said it too, I never really played until I was 20. But here’s the thing about Uriyah, he's not just good because he’s young. He loves the sport, he fits right in with the disc golf community and he practices all the time. He’s got a wonderfully loving father who supports him as well. They get to play disc golf together all the time because they both share a love for the game. It was pretty hilarious to hear the way they rib each other despite both being on the lead card for the second round and finishing first and second in their respective divisions.
Quick show of hands, who here has practiced 10,000 putts this year? I know I haven’t, I’d be willing to bet most people haven’t done that yet this year. But Uriyah took 10,000 putts from 20 feet in April this year and made 6,846 of them! He told me he makes sure to eat a salad every day, “a big one” when I asked the size of the salad. We debated which are the best vegetables and his top 3 in order are green peppers, carrots, and celery. He’s taking disc golf seriously and it shows. He’s generous in his praise of others and humble about his own game. We’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot more about Uriyah in the future. Especially if he keeps parking discs on hole 3, 390’ on the Black Bear Course.
So he’s won 3 tournaments in the last week, he’s shot well above his 877 rating the last month with his lowest rated round 913, still 36 points above his rating, and he’s just continuously getting better. If you want to follow Uriyah as he becomes a better player, then check out his social media that his father runs. You can also follow us here in our MNewsBites for more updates on the Granite State Kid.
May your discs miss all the trees, and if you face Uriyah good luck,
Andrew Streeter #70397
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I’m a sports management student at USM and for the most part I don’t like pay-to-play sports. I’d argue that they’re detrimental to the growth of the sport, target rich people, and ruin the fun nature of sports.
But disc golf is different.