Senior throws an ace: Places 17th at Junior Disc Golf World Championships

Senior+throws+an+ace%3A+Places+17th+at+Junior+Disc+Golf+World+Championships

By Reese Wang, Co-Editor-in-Chief

After watching a disc golf video on YouTube at age 13, senior Shane McCullen was hooked.

“I like watching the disc fly, I think it’s cool, and the physics of discs. You can manipulate it, make it do what you want. I just thought it looked cool and I wanted to do it,” McCullen said.

Similar to its better-known peer, golf, disc golf is played on a course with 18 “holes,” called baskets. Players try to throw discs into the baskets in the least number of tries. A year after picking up the sport, McCullen entered in his first tournament. His wins include the 2021 Lost Valley Open and the 2019 and 2020 Philadelphia Disc Golf Open, as well as placing 7th at the 2019 PDGA Junior Disc Golf World Championships and 17th in 2021.  

To qualify for the Junior Disc Golf World Championships, McCullen competes as an amateur in tournaments mostly located in the Northeast United States. He accumulates points for each player beaten, until he reaches the threshold of points required to qualify for the tournament.

At the Junior Disc Golf World Championships, McCullen played six rounds in four days, and met players from around the United States and world. During the three-hour competitive disc golf rounds, McCullen and his competitors discussed everything between favorite disc golf courses, favorite companies, and preferences between overstable and understable discs. 

“I don’t see a lot of kids who like disc golf, in my normal day life. But I’m surrounded by them when I go to junior worlds. So it’s kind of welcoming,” McCullen said. “If I talk about disc golf with most people, they won’t understand anything. But if I talk about it with people who know disc golf, I can have a more in-depth conversation and not feel like I’m explaining everything.”

At local tournaments, McCullen usually competes against adult amateurs. Competing against kids his age gave him goals to work towards.

“The first time I went, I had no idea how I would compare it to other kids my age. So I think after that it motivated me to get better because I mean, I did good but I didn’t win, so I wanted to win,” McCullen said. “I got to see how good kids my age were, how much farther they could go. This year I went and there was a kid who could go 100 feet farther than me, which is a lot. So I’ve got to work harder to get that good.” 

Since most disc golf courses are at least half an hour away, McCullen practices daily in his backyard or at the field behind the Easttown Library, working on shots, putting, and long drives. 

To reach his goal of turning pro, McCullen plans to continue practicing and playing at a college with a disc golf course nearby. He hopes to make a living off going on tour in the United States after graduating from college.

“It (disc golf) is what I’m passionate about,” McCullen said. “I’d rather live to work than work to live.”


Reese Wang can be reached at [email protected]