How To Explain the James Conrad Holy Shot to Non Disc Golfers

How To Explain the James Conrad Holy Shot to Non Disc Golfers

Recently I got the chance to introduce and play disc golf with my former college advisor. She’s incredibly well versed in all sports, because she’s a sports management professor and a great passionate fan. Even if she does like ‘the’ Ohio State…

I’ve known her for about 10 years and every single paper for class I could tailor to writing about disc golf, I did.

We talked about the growth of disc golf throughout the pandemic, and if there were any big moments that I could point to that contributed to the sports growth.

Naturally I brought up the “Holy Shot.”

I found myself trying to articulate how impressive the James Conrad “Holy shot” was in our sport. And to compare it to other sports moments.

I said it was the “greatest sports moment of all time.”

A huge statement. I mean there are so many other incredible moments in the history of sport. It’s subjective, as are all the ways to define the greatest moment in sports. And I’ve only been around for 33 years, and really started caring about the Red Sox when I was 2 years old.

There are:
Feats of speed like Usain Bolt running a 9.58 in the 100m.
Feats of stamina like Michael Phelps 7 world records and 8 golds in the 2008 Olympics.
Feats of strength like Greg Ernst lifting 5,340 pounds.

There are underdog stories in sports that could be considered the greatest sports moment of all time.

  1. The USA Olympic hockey team beat the Soviet Union in 1980. I think everyone has seen that movie by now. If you haven’t, go watch “Miracle” and feel an overwhelming sense of hockey induced patriotism.
  2. Rulon Gardner versus Aleksandr Karelin in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. (The announcers call it “akin to the 1980 win over the Soviets.” Karelin finished his career 887-2 and is the undisputed GOAT for wrestling.
  3. 2015-2016 Leicester City won the Premier League as a squad that had only been promoted to the league that year and was expected to finish last.

There’s game winning plays that we talk about for ages. These could be considered the greatest moments in sports.

  1. Auburn’s 2013 Iron Bowl field goal runback. This was one moment where I remember everyone in the room being speechless. “No flags, touchdown Auburn” was such a great call by the announcer.
  2. Jordan’s 1998 NBA Finals shot against the Jazz. I think this clip is shown at least once a week on ESPN. It’s iconic, everyone knew Jordan was going to get the ball and shoot it. And it was a perfect shot.
  3. Joe Carter’s Game 6 Walk Off. This is that moment when you’re a kid with a wiffle ball and bat in hand. You tell yourself it’s the bottom of the 9th in the world series. You toss it up and smack a long shot to win it all for your hometown team. Joe Carter did that, but in real life in 1993. “Touch ‘em all Joe. You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.”
  4. Faker’s “What Was That?”. I’ll throw a little love to the gaming community for this one. In League of Legends, the GOAT is a player named Faker. His Zed play is so famous that it was said that his opponent “Ryu” died every 60 seconds because people watched the play so frequently.

Then there’s technically beautiful shots in sport. Those skills that anyone who has played the sport understands are pure skill. Golf seems to fit this the best. I’m not sure if it’s the camera work, the fact that anyone who has ever hit a golf ball knows how frustrating it can be, or if how long the ball is in the air leads to longer anticipation of results.

  1. Nick Brett’s Bocce shot.
  2. Tiger Woods “Better than most”.
  3. Tiger Woods 2005 Masters Hole 16. *Side note, Tiger took 84 seconds there before making contact with the ball. That’s twice the time allotted by the PGA for hitting a shot and he probably should have received a penalty stroke. But that would have killed the moment, so I’m glad it didn’t.

All of the moments mentioned above were incredible, special, memorable. I tend to go with championship moments when creating the best sports moments of all time. They mean more, have more pressure surrounding them, they usually have higher levels of competition.

When speaking with my professor I compared Conrad’s shot to a ‘Hail Mary’ in football. Because it’s a play that everyone knows is coming and you have to execute it. That’s where that comparison should end though. Because that play is successful almost 1 in 10 times according to this ESPN article written by Kevin Seifert in 2019.
There was no way James was making that 10% of the time. So I decided to try to compare it to another sport with a lower success rate.

You could try to compare it to hitting a HR off of 1999 Cy Young Winner and 2nd in MVP voting Pedro Martinez. Because he gave up 9 homers in 835 batters. That’s a 1.7% chance for the best hitters in the sport.

But that’s still too high right?

What percent chance can I give James Conrad to hit that shot?

Does 1% sound good? I think it’s still too high.

We’ve seen plenty of videos of Simon Lizotte trying to ace for a long time. He’s known as a trick shot guy, and an ace run guy. I think this is probably the greatest promo video ever made in disc golf. If you’re looking for a Sky God IV I think we still have some left at Sabattus, and they’re on clearance.

You can see by the third hole how red in the face Simon is trying to throw these in. And that’s with practice with the same disc over and over again, and on holes that appear to be much shorter than the 247’ shot by Conrad. I wonder what his percentage of makes is when he shoots these videos.t

UDisc’s Win Probability calculator would have been so epic to see what percent chance it gave Conrad to win the event. But it came out a year ago in 2022, and it’s always something I check on the computer when a tournament is going on.

So let’s get back to Conrad’s throw in.

It was probably less than a 1% chance. Probably less than a 0.5% chance of going in.
It was to tie Paul McBeth, the greatest player of his generation and arguably the GOAT.
It was for the World Championship.

Jomboy did a great job breaking down the Holy Shot for non disc golfers. He captured a lot of the moment, that feeling of insane joy from an entire crowd of people. Even as a McBeth fan, I was home cheering for Conrad in that moment.

So is this the greatest sports moment of all time?
Does it beat “He under hands to first, and the Boston Red Sox Are World Champions” For Red Sox fans in 2004?

The more I think about sports as a whole, and watch professional and amateur play, the more I think that there might be no single greatest sports moment of all time. All of those moments mean different things to different people. And I’m sure I missed countless moments that have happened.

Unless the human race has to play basketball against aliens and Michael Jordan comes out of retirement to throw the ball in while being fouled by 2 Monstars, I don’t know that there will be a unifying single sports moment that is universally agreed as the greatest sports moment.

I guess I’ll just chalk the Holy Shot up as one of the greatest sports moments of all time, and for now the greatest in the history of disc golf.

May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397