Violet Main can toss a Frisbee better than most, so good in fact that she recently walked away with third place honors at the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) Junior World Championships in Emporia, Kansas.
Main, set to begin her senior year at South Pasadena High in August, was among 250 invited participants in the competition, including one of nine in her under-18 age group division.
“I knew going into to the competition that I didn’t have the tournament experience that a lot of the other girls had, which made me the underdog,” explained Main, who has grown up in South Pasadena. “After the first round I was in third place. My goal was to not fall back and to finish on the podium. And I did! This was the biggest tournament I’ve ever played. So, it feels really good to finish third and to be recognized as a top player with girls my age.”
Disc golf, according to the PDGA website, is much like the sport played with clubs, but in this case Frisbees –- or discs, as they say –- producing the same results. The object of the sport, formalized in the 1970s, is to complete each hole in the fewest number of strokes, or in the Frisbee version, the least number of throws.
“Players drive, putt, get birdies, bogies, and each hole has a par,” said Main. “You use different discs for different shots, just like you use different clubs playing ball golf.”
The PDGA says it’s one the fastest growing sports in the United States with more than 5,000 courses and more than 3,000 sanctioned tournaments played each year. The Association further notes that 50 million rounds of disc golf are played annually worldwide, breaking it down to more than 140,000 disc golf rounds per day, or nearly 100 started every minute.
Main’s father, who grew up in La Cañada Flintridge playing the sport in Hahamongna Park, first introduced his daughter to Frisbee golf. Inside the park’s boundaries is the popular Oak Grove Disc Course, the first of its kind in the world. Throughout the years her dad has always kept a few discs on hand, and around the 5th grade Violet started casually throwing them, later becoming highly attracted to the sport. Two years ago she began signing up for local tournaments and success started coming here way.
With her accomplishments, Main has reaped other rewards like a sponsorship from Innova, the largest disc golf company in the world. Team Innova consists of approximately 330 of the top players around the glove. Working with the firm, she is looking to organize clinics in the area to introduce the sport to others.
The pandemic, in some ways, helped her free up her day to devote to the sport, Main explaining: “I don’t think I would have had the time to dedicate myself to all the practicing had it not been for COVID. Attending school online and having all my other extracurricular activities canceled gave me lots of extra hours to fill. I don’t like to sit around and do nothing so I decided to focus on my health. I changed my eating habits, started an intense workout plan, and spent many hours at the course.”
During the Junior World Championships in Kansas, competitors were separated by age (girls and boys compete separately) – 18 & under, 15 & under, 12 & under, 10 & under. Main, taking the third spot in the 18 & under completion, finished behind winner Melody Castruita, the 2019 defending champion, from Texas and runner-up Stacy Hass from Michigan.
Now that she’s had a taste of the world stage, Main is anxious for more as she continues to practice at the Oak Grove course in La Cañada and occasionally showcase her talents in her hometown. “Sometimes I practice my drives on the high school football field,” she said. “I can throw 350-plus feet so I need a lot of open space. I also have a basket in my backyard to practice my putting. I used it a lot during COVID when I had a break between classes.”
When she’s not mastering her skill nearby, weekend travels will take Main to different courses throughout the Southland. It also helps explain her love for the sport. “It is really important to play a variety of courses because everyone is designed differently,” she said. “The obstacles, distances, weather, etc. force you to really learn about what disc to use for each shot. Disc golf is a very technical sport where you have to decide what disc is best for the shot you’re trying to make.”