Eagle McMahon excited to be back in Vail area, wins GoPro Mountain Games disc golf competition
Erikah Weir wins women’s division
Eagle McMahon visited the Vail area in 2015 and 2016, playing in tournaments organized by the Eagle County-based Flying Eagle Disc Society.
Since then, the Boulder resident has went on to win some of the most competitive events in the sport, playing disc golf in Europe, Australia and “pretty much every state in the U.S.,” he told the Vail Daily on Sunday.
Walking the course at Maloit Park in Minturn, McMahon said he was happy to be back.
“It was actually a deal maker for me that this was not (Professional Disc Golf Association) sanctioned, because I just wanted to come up here, play in the mountains, have some fun and just tone it down for a while,” McMahon said.
Women’s winner Erikah Weir said this year’s GoPro Mountain Games was a hot-ticket event on the disc golf calendar.
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“It was a race to know when the registration is going to happen,” Weir said. “Disc golf is one of those sports that really exploded during the pandemic, so we’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth.”
Steve Klehfoth with the Flying Eagle Disc Society said that the 2021 GoPro Mountain Games tournament sold out in less than 48 hours.
Stopover before worlds
McMahon is on his way to Utah to compete in the 2021 PDGA Professional Disc Golf World Championships in Ogden starting June 22. He said the GoPro Mountain Games presented a perfect stopover opportunity for him.
“I’m friends with Steve Klehfoth and I saw they had this event, and I wasn’t really doing anything on the weekend anyway, so I figured perfect little stop before heading out to worlds, have some fun out here and decompress,“ McMahon said. ”The statistics (at the GoPro Mountain Games) don’t count for your overall career stats, which, it’s a good thing that we record stats, but sometimes you just kind of want to be off the record, take a deep breath and have some fun.”
McMahon was first drawn to Flying Eagle Disc Society disc golf tournaments in 2015 when he learned that the club’s annual event would be taking place on a traditional golf course or, as disc golfers call it, a “ball golf“ course.
“It was definitely cool to be playing disc golf on a ball golf course in the mountains at the time,” McMahon said. “That was the time when you weren’t seeing as many ball golf courses. But ever since then, it’s become a very normal idea, and you see if all over the country.”
Professional disc golf
With disc golf exploding in popularity, it has allowed the idea of the disc golf professional to become a reality. But that also brings the pressures of the task at hand.
“Disc golf is my job, but I got into it as a hobby, and it’s my passion,” McMahon said Sunday. “So (at the GoPro Mountain Games) I can bring it back to my roots, not worrying about it, and just playing for the love of the game. That’s kind of what brought me here.”
The emergence of the professional disc golfer has also brought fans. The top finishing local on the day, Nathan Matlack of Edwards, got to join McMahon’s foursome on Sunday after shooting the low round on Saturday.
“It was surreal to watch Eagle on Jomez coverage, at a huge event last weekend, and just geek out like a fan, and then be watching him sink 90 footers in my face, live, the next weekend,” Matlack said.
Matlack was able to ask McMahon questions about disc golf and specific tournament moments he has watched via streaming services in recent years.
“It was really cool to chat with him in person,” Matlack said.
Matlack finished tied for 5th in the open division, taking home $215 for the effort.
McMahon and Weir earned $1,000 apiece.