Brad Schick PDGA #7992
If you are a fan of disc golf the way I am, you know that there are so many players to follow these days. It seems like each week a new, up-and-coming player might show up on the lead card at a tournament in your neck of the woods. The concept of disc golf parity might be commonplace for new fans of disc golf, but for some of us that patiently awaited our sport to grow from a fledgling niche sport into a mainstream phenomenon, the wait has taken forever.
One professional player that has scorched the courses when disc golf was in its infancy is Brad Schick PDGA #7992. If you haven’t heard of Brad Schick you are truly missing out. When he agreed to an interview and a round of disc golf, I jumped at the opportunity. Within every disc golf community there are players that represent their region, and Brad is considered an Ohio legend.
When he started his career in 1993 he quickly moved up the division ranks, but had yet to break through in the Open division until May of 1998 at the Toronto Island Open. I asked Brad how he got his first disc sponsorship only a year after his first Open win and he replied by saying that, “back in 1999 there wasn’t very many sponsored players, especially by Discraft. I went to the Greater Peoria Open with Ben Botte and Scott Stokely happened to be at the event as well. Scott was one of Discraft’s top sponsored player and team captain at the time. I believe Scott was chatting with Ben and me after the tournament and mentioned a small sponsorship for the two of us. We were super excited and of course we accepted!”
Over the span of a 26 year career, Brad has averaged over 30 tournaments each season with almost no fluctuation in the amount of wins or high finishes from year to year. With a respectable PDGA rating of 1010 and 153 career victories under his belt, he has put up numbers that many young pro players could only dream of achieving. To put it into perspective, since his first pro season in 1994, he has averaged nearly 6 wins a year for 25 years, an astounding feat in any era.
Wins are always a great notch, but Brad Schick has had his share of shining moments as well, most notably his 2008 Brent Hambrick Memorial Open (National Tour) win. I asked him what that win meant to him and he cheerfully commented, “That one was beyond special, especially after getting so close in 2007 when Dave Feldberg edged me out by one stroke. I remember being devastated after that event. To come back the next year and actually win it meant a lot. That also may be the last time I actually beat Paul McBeth at a tournament.” Brad added with humor.
For many years the names Discraft and Brad Schick were synonymous. I couldn’t help but ask about the aggressive off-season moves by his longtime sponsor and if he saw these changes coming. He replied enthusiastically by saying, “Absolutely not! I mean every year Discraft is looking to find new players and spice things up a bit. But I had no clue they were going after McBeth. I, like many others, didn’t think that was even a possibility. Boy was I wrong.” Most fans are breathlessly awaiting the outcome of such a high profile move as obtaining Paul McBeth and Brad may have hinted at its future success by adding, “Discraft ran about 10,000 of each mold and were hoping that would meet the demand for the first run. They were not sure because of the Buzzz of Paul moving over.” That early disc run prediction by Discraft might fall well short of demand.
Brad has been a Discraft team member for so many years, and with that longevity comes the opportunity to offer Discraft insight of some potential great additions to their team. Brad has been instrumental in bringing some attention to young players such as Corey Ellis (who joined the team last year) and had a part in getting Sam Lee who just signed in 2019.
Another newly joined player, Team Captain Paul Ulibarri has mentioned in interviews that he may lean on Discraft stalwarts such as Brad Schick throughout the season. What role Ulibarri is eluding to hasn’t yet come to light, but Paul commented on being on the same team with Brad by remarking that, “He’s (Brad) just always been a stand-up guy. He’s maintained a high-level of competition for a long time, and has an insane amount of wins. Class act.”
Watching Brad take the tee box, glide across the cement pad, and put his whole body into the drive gave me a good sense of how he attacks everything in his life.
The question that comes immediately to mind and perhaps to the mind of many of his fans is “What if?” Why does a pro player of his caliber with all the tools, great character, and the ability to win so often, over so many years, not tour full-time? What would the disc golf landscape be if he had? I asked him what the main obstacles were that kept him primarily a Central Ohio pro disc golfer and he replied honestly, “The main reason has been my job, and while working full-time I also got married in 2003. After college, I landed a great sales job and decided that my disc golf career would be regional. To be honest, I think I would lose interest and not really enjoy the lifestyle of sleeping on random couches or in the back of a van.”
Currently, disc manufacturers must take into consideration both a player’s media savvy as well as their disc golf attributes before agreeing to sign them onto their team. Lines are often blurred between what a player can do on a course and what value they may return to their sponsor with likes and shares that drive disc sales. Brad Schick is the exception to this rule. Social media aside, he is the prototype of all the characteristics that a disc golf manufacturer wants in a player.
Although the potential rewards for disc golf have gone through the roof, the reality for most disc golf hopefuls is still just making the cash cut to keep their tour moving forward. I asked him if he had any regrets not venturing out further or being introduced to disc golf when the sport is exploding and he confessed that, “I often wonder what it would be like, but I have no regrets.” This comment sums up all you need to know about Brad Schick.
During this interview, Brad Schick had just signed a one year extension with Discraft. The signing event was nothing out of the ordinary. Many can’t imagine a Discraft team without him, but what stood out for Brad was that this was the first year that a contract felt much more formal. A sign of the times for disc golf I suppose. I asked him what his future holds and he said, “I am a creature of habit and I will probably continue down a similar road. I do hope to get to some Disc Golf Pro Tour events and maybe the U.S. Masters or even Worlds again. I would be kidding myself If I didn’t say the addition of all these amazing players didn’t excite me and motivate me to up my game in 2019.” Whatever Brad Schick does, there is no doubt he will give it his all. Discraft would be hard-pressed to find a better role model for the brand or the sport.