Whether or not you like him, Brodie Smith is talked about. And talked about. And talked about. Having seen the galleries following him at USDGC in person, his popularity and polarizing nature also flows into the real world. But I like numbers, and here are Brodie’s.
In the last 12 months: 5 Top Tens at 23 events with an average finish of 27th. His event earnings were $9,984. I’m not here to scoff at these numbers or say he sucks at disc golf. He’d kick mine and every other keyboard warrior’s ass up and down the fairways. But in terms of exciting new players who burst onto the scene, there’s one I’m much more excited to see continue their career next year and see how far they can go.
Numbers: 15 Top Tens at 21 events with an average finish of 9th. Event earnings of $7,360. (If those numbers don’t tell you everything you need to know about the galling disparity in FPO/MPO payouts, nothing will).
I’m talking about Ella Hansen, who has played a grand total of 25 career events and is already rated 925. She took third at USWDGC in May, won two B-Tiers, and also finished in the top ten of DGPT events at Portland and Maple Hill. For reference, Paige Pierce did not crack a 925 player rating for a single event until her third season in 2008. Catrina Allen was a little faster, accomplishing it in her second season in 2011. Pierce and Allen are the best FPO players of the last ten years by a substantial margin, and Hansen is outpacing them, even against a deeper field than they faced at the start of their careers.
There must be something in the water in Oregon that makes great disc golfers, and has finally made it past dudes named Nate. Hansen didn’t even start playing disc golf regularly until early 2020, a few months before masses of pandemic-addled people everywhere also took to the course for the first time. And for my money, “One Throw Ella” would smoke the lot of ’em.
Whether or not Hansen starts a YouTube channel, or starts selling custom equine-stamped runs of her discs, there’s at least one disc golf fan that hopes Discmania and the DGPT can give Hansen the spotlight (and payouts) such a burst onto the scene as hers deserves. She fits the Discmania mold (pun intended) of absolute crusher of the disc set in place by Simon Lizotte and perfected by Eagle McMahon, even laying down a now-fabled 550 ft. roller in Portland.
And in a time when disc golf’s two premier players are in the latter half of their best athletic years, Hansen is also young. In her lies a potential future for disc golf, on ground paved by the aforementioned Allen and Pierce, where all the bright stars of the FPO field are allowed to shine in tandem with the MPO stars, rather than the current status quo in which few FPO players are visible to casual fans other than Allen and Pierce. To that I say, bring on the bagel sponsorships for 2022.