It’s safe to say that America is obsessed with youth. If we discover anyone who excels at something early, that storyline hits that sweet spot of what sparks the imagination. A disc golfer full of possibilities and who may be destined for notoriety is Hailey King PDGA #81351.
Affectionately called “Hailstorm”, because of her huge putts, Hailey joined Discraft in 2017 representing their Junior team, but as of this year she was promoted to the women’s Discraft team at 17 years of age. I wondered if this year felt any different considering the backdrop of one of the bigger years for player shuffle and Hailey responded by saying, “Discraft has been supporting me since I started taking the sport serious, and they’ve given me more opportunities this year.”
Although Hailey is young and not very imposing in stature, her style of play is anything but meek. Almost everything she throws is maximum weight. That alone may be peculiar until you mix in exactly what she throws which is often the most stable discs in the Discraft line-up such as Forces, Vultures, and the Nuke OS. The Nuke OS is a lighter version, but with it she was able to throw her longest distance, 453 feet. On average, she throws 415-430 feet with a Big Z Nuke.
Hailey is a player that has only competed a few years, but in those few seasons she has made believers out of many of the pros including Brad Schick. I asked Brad which young player he was looking forward to see play this year and he had a clear choice saying, “This is an easy one for me. Hailey King is a young, talented player from Wisconsin and I think she has the ability to compete for a World Title.” For a seasoned professional to say a player is good enough to take down the World Championship is no small compliment.
Having the talent for disc golf is one thing, but having a strong supportive system around you might be the best way that a player of her age will succeed. I asked her what disc golfers she looks up to and she answered, “I got to admit I look up to Zach Melton. In a way he was a mentor to me. Zach is overall the coolest lefty I ever met, and he’s kinda cool.” I asked her if she had a FPO favorite. “Madison Walker. She went to college for Marine Biology, which is what I was thinking about doing. She is kinda weird, but she’s pretty cool. Zach and Madison are genuinely good people. They have supported and helped me so much.”
Introduced to the sport by her father at age 13, Hailey mentioned why disc golf became so important to her by saying, “I love nature, and going to play disc golf is just a way for me to do things that I love.” When you see a disc golfer come so far so fast, you have to wonder if she can see a future in full-time touring. “As of now I’m looking at it as a hobby. I’m going to tour for a year or two and decide if I can do this for a living, or just for joy.”
Unfortunately, finances are always a major concern for the touring pro and she backed up this point by saying that, “I am currently signed up for only one event, which is the GBO. Money’s a little tight so I’m trying to sign up for events soon before they fill.” Hailey has chosen to enroll online. “I did this so that I could work and save up money, that way I can start touring sooner. I would love to tour for the rest of my life. It’s been a dream of mine for a long, long time.” Since this interview, Hailey has begun to fill her schedule with notable tournaments one being The Ledgestone Insurance Open.
Discraft’s 2018 Hailstorm Stamp
The 2019 Hailstorm, with the proceeds going toward Hailey King’s upcoming tour, will be arriving soon…
Because of all the off-season acquisitions, the face of Discraft has changed quite a bit. I asked about the addition to Paul McBeth onto the team and what were her thoughts. “I think it’s pretty sick. He’s a good guy and he’s doing big things with this sport.”
With the start of the 2019 season, most disc golfers are full of optimism of the tournaments that lay ahead. I asked Hailey of her goals for the year and she replied, “My goals for 2019 are set pretty high. I like setting high goals because it makes me work harder. I want to make more putts and be more consistent.”
Not many young players have been blessed with the amount of potential that Hailey King possesses. With 16 wins out of 42 events and a PDGA rating rising nearly 30 points in one year, the sky is the limit for this young player. She will face the toughest competition that disc golf has to offer this season. The question is, are the players in the FPO division ready for her?