, 2021-06-29 02:00:00,
A hole-in-one in just his fifth-ever round hooked Gillis MacDougall onto disc golf in 2019.
Two years later it led him halfway across the country to Milford, Mich., where he took second place in the 2021 PDGA United States Amateur Disc Golf Championship held earlier this month.
In just his third year of playing disc golf, the 17-year-old MacDougall now finds himself as one of the top-rated amateur players in the region.
After being exposed to the sport for the first time at Four Rivers Charter School in eighth grade, MacDougall took a casual interest in disc golf before his personality turned it into a passion.
“Anything I do, I don’t want to suck,” MacDougall said. “I’m a pretty competitive person.”
He started watching YouTube videos to correct his form, bought his own discs and began practicing throws in his free time.
MacDougall entered his first intermediate-level tournament in September 2019 and took first place. The following spring season was delayed due to the pandemic, but MacDougall continued to enter tournaments while raising his player rating.
Entering this spring season, MacDougall received an invitation to play in a national amateur tournament in Michigan, but said there were obstacles in the way.
“I looked at (the invitation) and was like, ‘I don’t have a license, I’m not even 17 yet, so probably not but I’ll ask my dad,’” MacDougall said. “I called my dad and was like ‘Can we go to Michigan,’ … and honestly it didn’t take too much convincing.”
MacDougall entered the final day of the event sitting outside the top three, but in his final round he shot a tournament-low 57 strokes, which earned him an “incredible” second-place finish.
He said it was a grueling weekend and he started to lose focus in the final…
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