Interview with 3x Legends Champ Pete May
Posted by mleefry
This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting 3x Amateur Legends World Champion Pete May (#12700). I first ran into May during a practice round at Emporia Country Club a few days before the Amateur World Championships. Luckily someone in my group pointed him out to me, or I would not have given much thought to the man in the cowboy hat walking the course on his own. I caught up with him again later in the week at the dgNOMAD Glow Ace Race, and learned more about his accomplishments and aspirations in the realm of disc golf.
May has lived in Augusta, GA for the majority of his life, and is a Senior Vice President of Morris Communications and President of the International Barrel Horse Federation. He started the Collegiate Disc Golf Championships, invented the disc golf game Hott Shott, and has earned the Amateur Legends World Title in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Here’s more about May and his achievements, in his own words:
Dogleg: When did you first start playing disc golf, and how old were you?
May: I first started playing with my oldest son and his two buddies, I was 58, they were all Table Tennis Olympians.
Dogleg: Explain the concept behind “Hott Shott.”
May: Hott Shott is my newest start. It is an indoor court game using elements of disc golf. Its noble purpose is the get middle school kids doing more with their hands and eyes and less with their fingers (cell phones). The business purpose is to create cottage businesses for the disc golf community… It is a putting type game that simulates bowling or darts [in terms of scoring]. The goal has a five year plan to start 7,000+ leagues nationwide in middle schools, churches, rec centers, senior citizen [centers], and similar gyms. I believe this is very doable. This game is fun, easy to learn, and hard to master—a nice combination. The game could have a profound effect on the growth of disc golf.
Dogleg: In your opinion, what are characteristics of a “perfect” disc golf course?
May: A perfect or sustainable disc golf course should…
• Be pleasing to the eye
• Have no more than 1 par four each nine holes
• Have at least two ace runs [per nine holes]
• Most par three holes should be designed for players that throw less than 350 feet; that distance is only thrown by 5% of all players
• Have tee shots that are fun to throw, but difficult to make a two unless the shot is very precisely placed
• Take more than 1:45 to 2 hours [to play]
• One water hazard per side adds to a great course
• Five to seven tree tunnel holes create the skill factor, not just distance
• No more than 3 blind shots on a course
• Close to the basket trapping is one of my course design features
• I like tough but not “mean” courses
• I like elevation change if possible
• I like 20 hole courses with par at 62
Dogleg: What inspired you to start the Collegiate Disc Golf Championships? How has it evolved since its first year? Where do you see it going in the future?
May: My youngest son was a college freshman, and my “boss”—the owner of Morris Communications—showed interest at the same time. I had just been a TD of the 2006 Pro Worlds in Augusta, and my boss said, Why can’t we have this here every year? I said it moves about. He said, Let’s have our own tournament. So, since there was no Collegiate Championship, and my son was in college, I asked him to help me start one.
The first year, 2007, we had University of Georiga, Clemson, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia Southern, East Georgia College and Southern California. Wow, what a start. We played on one course.
Last year we had four courses going on one site with 63 college teams, [including] seven schools from the west coast. This year we will have 16 regional tournaments feeding into the Championship, which we expect to be 80 teams. This is our max.
In 20 years, I will expect ESPN to cover the tournament and up to 10,000 spectators at the event. I do not see disc golf merging into the NCAA.
Dogleg: In an article from the Augusta Chronicle about your win in 2012, you were quoted saying “I didn’t really go there to win.” What was your goal going into the 2013 World Championships?
May: My goal for the 2013 World Championship was to broaden the reach of Hott Shott and win the Over 70 Championship… Winning is never easy and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Dogleg: What is the most fun disc golf tournament you’ve ever played in?
May: This recent World Championships in Emporia was my most fun competition.
The town respected us, the courses were fun, competitive, and logistically
easy to get to and from.
Dogleg: How do you prepare for tournaments?
May: At the practice rounds at the tournament sites, I keep a journal on each course. I play fast practice rounds only teeing off and looking at the upshot and making notes in my journal. I will usually get 3 rounds per course logged in. I waste no time putting in practice rounds. I do this alone with no playing partners so I can stay focused.
Dogleg: What do you mean when you say you consider yourself a gamesman, not an athlete?
May: A gamesman usually has great eyesight, very soft hands, and good balance. They will train obsessively and are usually very confident. They don’t necessarily run extra fast or jump excessively high or lift ridiculous amounts of weight over their head.
Athletes can run very fast, jump very high, are super strong and many times hate to train, because they are so gifted out of the box.
Dogleg: Should the PDGA and TDs be doing more to get more individuals who are over 50 to play in tournaments? What advice would you give them?
May: I think the PDGA should group all seniors over 50 into one Senior Championship.
The age breaks should be each 5 years. They should combine both Pros and Ams together for more senior fraternity. In my opinion, there is not and will not be enough money in these divisions to make a difference one way or the other.