Team SDG member Uriyah Kelley #98747 has had a fantastic season so far. As it’s winding down I thought I’d catch up with the young phenom and see how his season had been. I got a chance to interview The Granite State Kid over the phone last week and here’s what we discussed.
Last year this time you were rated 878 now you’re 905. That 28 point jump means you’re 3-4 strokes better on average per round. What’s been the biggest thing contributing to your improvement?
Uriyah says putting has been his best improvement. After he did those 10,000 putts in April, he didn’t suddenly stop practicing. I spoke with both Uriyah and his father Kevin, they’re convinced putting is propelling his success this year. The other thing that’s keeping his rating trending upwards is practicing for 45 minutes every day.
You’ve played 17 tournaments so far this year, and you did the 10,000 putts challenge. Disc golf is clearly your passion. Do you wake up every day excited to play?
Yes is the short answer. Uriyah is hoping to get 3 more tournaments in and bring his number up to 20 PDGA tournaments this season. That’s almost every weekend this last summer! He’s traveling and playing the sport he loves, so he enjoys it. He also recognizes that he’s fortunate to be sponsored by companies like Innova, FlightTowel, and many others, including SDG. So he feels like practicing is rewarding their investment in him.
I see you had a 949, and a 948 rated round this year. What clicked during those rounds at Pinnacle Spring Bash and the Rally of Rochester?
Well everything, driving and putting and upshots were working. One of the big things that contributed to his game was a caddy. Remember Uriyah isn’t even a teenager yet and he weighs about 72 pounds (or 186 max weight drivers). If his bag weighs 30 pounds (not unreasonable with discs, water, kwik stik, snacks) that’s 40% of his body weight! We may sometimes take for granted that we can easily throw a bag over our shoulder and play a couple of rounds. For someone Uriyah’s size, that’s much more difficult. Having a caddy helps everyone, but it especially helps a kid who is basically a lightweight disc.
Do you find that players offer you more advice or do they accept what you’re telling them as advice?
Uriyah’s humility is truly special here. He’s always willing to take advice from anyone he meets on the course, despite the fact that he’s better than many players. Uriyah does give advice to those who ask him for it. He’s not bashful or proud, he’ll just let you know what he thinks. He seeks out advice from the pros when he gets a chance, and they’re especially willing to help because they know Uriyah is willing to put in the work to get better.
What kind of courses are your favorite?
Uriyah prefers wooded courses for a number of reasons. He feels that the satisfaction he gets from puring a woods line is better than anything else. It also suits his game exceptionally well, as Uriyah is a forehand upshot master. His scramble game is only going to get better, and that’s scary.
Have you changed up your bag much or are you still crushing with those low weight Wraiths and Caiman?
He’s still throwing the lower weight distance drivers. The Blizzard Wraith, GStar Thunderbird, Eagle, and the Champion Leopard. As for the upshots, Uriyah has kept with the Rat and Caiman, and he still putts with Aviars.
Why do you seem to play better in the second round of each tournament? Is it that you know the course better, is it that second round you’re grouped with (generally) better players, is it that you're warmed up?
This is probably the most interesting and fun thing I got to talk with Uriyah about. I put a lot of thought into this question and looked at Uriyah’s rounds. On average in multiple rounds per day tournaments, he’s 21 ratings points better in the second round. That’s 2-3 strokes better on average. He has tournaments where he shoots worse in the second round, but in 7/11 he’s improving. I wanted to know why.
The answer is none of those things that I thought. It’s not his competitive nature, or his knowledge of the course and conditions. Uriyah’s round 2 secret is “Swing Juice” also known as Root Beer. He gets excited for lunch and his afternoon root beer. He doesn’t pound it down, he slowly sips it and savors the carbonated beverage. Both Uriyah and his father laughed, but they told me it’s true. It’s a nice pick me up. When I asked Uriyah what his ideal lunch would be, he said it would be pepperoni pizza and root beer. So I guess if you’re looking to improve your second round average, this is what you need to do. Also Mug, Barq’s, and A&W should probably start courting him now for a sponsorship.
It was great to catch up with Uriyah. SDG is proud to support this smart kid who is poised for success in disc golf. If you get a chance to play a round with him, do it; if he gives you disc advice, take it. And if he has a root beer in his hand, he’s probably going to shoot the hot round.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397