John E McCray PDGA #9852

John E McCray 2014 Disc golf Tour.

 

About 15 years ago I had the pleasure of playing a round of disc golf with John E McCray, in Daytona Beach Florida. For those of you who do not know John E or haven’t seen him play, it doesn’t take long to understand a few things about John, You get what you see as he can’t hide his intensity or passion for the sport of disc golf.

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He’s the kind of guy that will help show a new player around the course or the next up and coming pro in his area by practicing/training with him, teaching him what he knows, giving him a ride to the league or tourney. John is relentless in his training and know how to separate it from playing casual or playing in an event, so when he gets to the course on game day the gloves comes off and the game is on until the last putt is thrown. He won’t root against your shots during the round ( he doesn’t have to) but he won’t let up when he’s up by ten either. This is my type of guy, he’s the same kind of player I used to be and why our relationship is so good and has lasted so long.

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I had heard of this guy before, he’s the guy that gives Ken Climo and every other opponent something to think about when t hey see his name on the list of those registered.
He’s the type of guy that brings it (his skills and determination) from the first hole to the last, every time he laces em up and does so with a huge smile on his face. Don’t take it personal, he’s playing he course and never letting up. He doesn’t know how to put in the second team when he’s up by ten with three to go,, it’s not in his DNA. He’s looking for course records every time he plays..
I use the term laces em up, because John is a soccer player at heart. From the moment I met him I knew this guy,,,, it was like looking in a mirror. It was so apperant for me to see this guy was one of those soccer players I grew up playing with and against from the age of 5-20.
During those 15 years of playing soccer and other team sports, I went to war with my teammates time and time again. I always gave it everything I had, I tried my my hardest because I didn’t want to let the team down. I learned early in life how to play as a team but also how motivate myself and the team to get what we wanted and I wasn’t afraid of failure. At 7 or 8 years old all I thought about and wanted was to win games with my team.

What I developed through the game of soccer and from my soccer coaches was the same thing john developed, it’s to accomplish what you set out to do,,,, your goal ( both literally and figuratively). Not one soccer game, league or tournament I ever played in did I NOT go into thinking about winning. It’s why we were there, why we signed up, what we had trained for, went to sleep thinking about and woke up thinking about.

If you didn’t grow up playing a sport like soccer with the kids from your neighborhood and parish, (in cities like Tampa or St Louis, where soccer moms get into fist fights) you might not understand this, over the top attitude about winning. From that first encounter in Daytona playing with John E, until my recent trip this winter to Florida, I can assure you one thing, John E McCray knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

Theres a big difference between playing on a team and playing for yourself, is the outcome is all on your shoulders, you get all the glory but you also need to take the defeats. I just heard a guy on the TV say this about golf in reference to Rory’s meltdown yesterday ” if you don’t own the defeat you cannot fully embrace the victory”. Transitioning for some from team sports to individual sports can be difficult, but for guys like John and I, we like that kind of pressure, it drives us to train harder and to be more prepared then your opponent.

Last fall when I heard John E was going on tour this year, I knew what that meant. It meant, every event that John E entered into, that John E would have to be beat. John E rarely beats himself and regardless of how many strokes he may be down, “HE” never thinks he’s out of It. If theres a mathematical chance for John E to still win, then theres a good chance he might. Along with ken Climo, Dave Greenwell and Nikko, he’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever met in the sport and probably why ken Climo started traveling so much in the mid 90′s. ( just kidding ken)! Actually John E has a lot of respect for the champ, and often gives Ken MOST of the credit for driving him to be the best he can be. Imagine having to go head to head with Ken Climo when you first start playing and then twenty times a year every year! I was at Kens house back in 1999 playing cards the him and the Winnie crew, Ken sat out every ten or so hands and went outside in his yard, in the dark with just a porch light and threw 30 or so putts at a time every 30 minutes all night long. Having someone like Ken to play with and against when John started back in December 1995 certainly shaped him and his game and fit right into that mold of a soccer players mentality. In order or be the best you have to beat the best!!!

Johns first victory against Ken came at water tower park in Sarasota Florida after about 25 or so head to head events. John was down 6 going into a Sunday round and came out blazing, shooting a course record -13 and then followed it with a -12 and Wound up beating them Champ by 6. Quite the the feather in the cap that day for John and I can only imagine what Ken must have thought. Up until then not many players had really challenged the champ especially not in his home state of Florida.

This past weekend John E played in the Memorial Championships n Phoenix AZ. His 49 was tied for first after round one and going into the last was just a few shots back.
With a very strong field of competitors John wound up in second place and snagged himself a nice healthy paycheck of $3,000.00

While John E performance this past week came up a few strokes short of a PDGA NT win at the Memorial championships in Phoenix Arizona, John certainly set the stage for his ” it’s about time tour” !
So far this year John has already played in 6 Events and has finished 1st in 5 of the 6:
1st at Throw Down the mountain II in Brooksville FL =$800.00
1st at SW Florida Open in Port Charlotte =$432.00
1st at Barnett Park Ppen in Orlando FL = $600.00
1st at Cedar Hill Chill in Cedar Hill TX $600.00
1st at Towne Lake Pro-Am in = $500.00
2nd at the Memorial in Phoenix AZ = $3,000.00

Anyone that has ever played with John or saw him play for the first time this past week, can’t help but want to watch him play again. John E is a power player that can throw a demon 400 feet and his Wizards just as far. He rarely lays up from the tee or when putting. His confidence it making the comeback putt is off the chart. He throws shots exactly like you should, with the thought process that the results will match the intention. If he misses, there will be no cursing, no stomping, no crushing the mini or throwing his disc in the bag. He simply steps up to his next shot with the same. Determination and confidence he had with the last throw. He’s truly playing the course and wants to go low, REALLY low every time!

John E has been throwing exclusively Gateway discs for the last ten years. During this time John has been ranked in the top ten for the majority of it, has won nearly 80% of the events he’s entered. IMG952014011995110146in the bag with John E McCray

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzUgexSb_6E

 

John and was within a throw or two of 1st place at the PDGA pro worlds in Augusta GA in 2006 going into the semi final round. Unfortunately for John, there was a miscommunication about the start time on the final day. I got a call about 7:00 central ( (8:00 eastern) from Mike Barnett. “Hey Dave, where’s Johnny? The semi final rounds getting ready to start and he’s not here!” I quickly hung up the phone and called John E’s number, he answered on the first ring.

David: ” hey john what’s going on? ”
John: I’m sitting here eating breakfast getting ready to win the world championships!
David: Well Sunking just called and said the rounds getting ready to start.
John: no It starts at 9 like all the other rounds.
David: not sure who told you that but Mike said they already blew the two minute warning.
John: (after about 4 seconds of silence , he said) thanks, I gotta go!

I washed him luck and hung up the phone.
John raced to the course and eventually started the round, but not after missing 2 holes and taking quadruple bogey on each for being late.

He’s started the most important round of his career 8 over par.
Did this discourage John?
Would he have a melt down and fall a part?
Well what happened was that JohnE, without a single practice shot on the day, proceeded to birdie 11 of the next 12 holes and eventually, when the round was done shot a 54 5 under par and kept himself in the top 8.

John went on to place T7 with Steve Rico that year, which I’m sure was a huge let down after being so close.

A few years later john he fell Ill with Lyme disease, but not before he was mis-diagnosed with gout and was put on a special diet that wasn’t very good for the Lyme disease. The improper diagnosis put him in the hospital and he nearly died. It took John E over a year to fully recover.
Did john learn a lesson from all of this?
Were these the type of life altering experiences , a fork in the rd that could break his spirits about life or the game of disc golf?

Of course not, John is not a quitter, he exemplifies the phrase of ” whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”!

The moral of these two stories is about not giving up after adversary or set backs, and is just part of part of the story of John E McCray and what’s makes him the man that he is today.

I’ve never heard him complain about what happened the day he was late day or lay blame on anyone else. He excepted the mistake as his own, put his head down and did the best he could, shot after shot, until the final shot was thrown just like he always does!

It took a while, but John overcame his illness with the support of his wife friends and family and eventually regained his strength to compete and perform at the highest level.

I know john loves the sports deep down and would play disc golf even if there were no trophies or prize money. He plays disc golf to beat the course’ to break course records and to challenge himself, but it’s also how he supports his family. If you asked him he would tell you he plays for his fans, his home state of Florida, for Gateway Disc Sports, for the future of our sport and of course for the love of the game.

JohnE is disc golf competitions poster boy!!
On the course, he’s the professional that is expected of him. Off the course he’s a husband, a father, a disc golf promoter/coach and someone (that as a parent), you’re more than comfortable with your son or daughter idolizing as their role model. Even if your a Discraft guy or an Innova guy or have a brand new company you support with your disc choices, you can’t help but finding your self rooting for john E!

Johns loyalty to me and Gateway Disc Sports is unheralded. I am so proud to have John E represent our brand, he is a extension of myself and day in and day out uses gateway discs as if he’d made them himself. Several times over the last few years I told John E it was ok to use discs from other companies that it wouldn’t effect our relationship with him and that our company has a long term plan for him. I know there are discs from other companies that could help John E the same way Niiko used discs from Gateway, Innova and discraft, to break and still hold the yearly money earning record of nearly $50k) , win player of the year three years in a row from 2009-2011 and capture the largest purse in PDGA history of $15k at the 2009 USDGC.

It’s no secret that I believe a player has a competitive advantage if he uses the very best disc from each one of the disc manufactures.

Is having a mixed disc bag good for the sport?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYfytPTs5qU

John has refused to use anything but Gateway discs since we started sponsoring him over ten years ago. I’m pretty sure that John likes being the underdog ( although he is definitely one of the favorites at every event he plays) and that throwing only Gateway motivates him at times to find that extra gear.
He likes the the role of ” JohnEGateway” vs the world and uses it to his advantage to motivate him.

Please visit John E’s website for information on his tour.

http://www.johnemccraytour.com/

John E’s ” it’s about time tour” is just that! It’s time players and fans all over the world get to see John E play and what it means to be a professional in all sense of the words.

he and his wife and kid are traveling around the country playing disc golf tournaments and running clinics and participating in league nights promoting Gateway discs.

On the road with Captain John

On the road with Captain John

If your city or course is within their travels and you would like to have John out for a clinic, I would not pass up on the opportunity to have John out for a day.

To arrange for a clinic at your home course, Jen McCray can be reach at Email me! or call 813-323-4779 just contact her and she will try and set it up for John E to show off his skills and our products and help teach players in your area a thing or three about how the game is played!

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Gateway Disc Sports Schedules

2014 Gateway Disc Sports Schedule

2014 Monthly Tournament Series – California Singles

February 16, 12:00pm Creve Coeur Park 1 Round

Divisions

Pro

Advanced

Recreational

Women

Juniors

 

Cost:

$10 / Player

(All Divisions)

 

Options

$2 Ace Pool

$3 50/50s & CTPS

$10 Super Pro

$5 Super Am

 

Logan University GDS Tournament Nov. 9th!!

Logan Inaugural Tournament

2013 Ozark Mountain Final Ascent

OzarkFinalAscent2 (web)

NEW disc golf courses opening up in the st louis area!

Its been a while since i last posted but its not like i haven’t been busy.

Theres 3 new 18 hole courses I’ve been working on, 2 are already in the ground ( Wilmore in south-west st Louis and Fort Zumwalt in Ofallon MO) and the 3rd is currently being installed at Logan College in Chesterfield.

My efforts with getting a disc golf course installed within the st louis city limits started nearly 20 years ago when I set up a temp course in Carondolet park and ran an event.
after all these years the city finally saw the light and the Wilmore course is up and running, Its a well manicured park with a JB / Sioux Passage feel.

The Fort Zumwalt park was installed last week for a 2 month soft opening, when the city of Ofallon parks and rec will pull the baskets once they begin installing the christmas tree lights for the winter wonderland.. The course will re-open for a grand opening in March of 2014, so they will be cleaning up the holes a lot better and installing Concrete tees over the winter.. If you play this course please understand that there will be a lot more work done before the course is officially opened, but your feed back is more than welcome.

Now on to the jewel of the 3,, Logan College in Chesterfield ( which I first started the disc golf course idea for in 2002) will rival any course in the world once its full completed.

I’ll go out on a limb and say this course will give Carrollton Park in Bridgeton and Foundation park in Centralia as the best PARK course out of the 51 I have been a part of designing and installing and the nearly 700 i have played. ( Ozark MOuntain Akitas Run and Spencer Davis still tops the list
but I may be too partial)
The magnificent course lay out covers about 60 acres of land, plays around 3 lakes and a creek. There are a nice mix of holes in the open, holes in the woods and plenty of elevation. Par on the course is looking at around 66 from the long tees to long pins with lots of course management needed to shoot under par. Short tees and shot pinswill play at around 7500 and will give more birdie chances for the average disc golfer.

Plans are for a soft opening in about 2 weeks with a grand opening later this fall.

I will add some pics and scorecards of all 3 course later this week so check back soon.

if you have any questions or need directions please visit our website or check disc golf course review.

Dunegant Park Open

 

Poster for the Dunegant Park Open, July 27th, 2013

3 NEW videos posted by Gateway Disc Sports

In this first video, David McCormack demonstrates the features of the Titan Pro 24 disc golf basket made by Gateway:

 

 

The second video is of some player warm-ups for the 2nd day of the 2013 St. Louis Open at Carrollton Disc Golf Course:

 

 

The third video is a brief history of the disc golf course at Endicott Park recounted by David McCormack:

 

 

2013 St. Louis Open Re-Cap

Planning for the 8th Annual St. Louis Open (Supertour/A-Tier status) began nearly a year before the weekend of June 21st -23rd.  Scheduling, Player’s Packs, course reservations, sanctioning agreements, and securing an adequate amount of volunteers takes more planning and time than one can imagine.  The traditional STLO date of the first weekend in May had to be changed this year due to a last minute conflict with the PDGA’s own NT event, the Hall of Fame Classic.  As big of a disappointment/hassle as this may have been, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and make the best out of a situation.  After the club took a close look at the available dates, they rested on the weekend of June 21st-23rd.  The Kansas City Wide Open (PDGA NT event) took place the weekend prior, so the theory was that the touring pros would be in the area and making a quick drive to St. Louis would look pretty attractive.  As it turns out, a few other clubs had the same idea.  When the final scheduling was released by the PDGA, the STLO was going up against 6 other Supertour/A-Tier events!  I am not sure what the PDGA was thinking on this one, but as the old saying goes, “The show must go on”.  In the future, the PDGA should probably be a little bit more forthcoming with their scheduling information.  Even with all of the competition, the STLO was able to bring in the 2nd highest amount of entrants out of all of the events.  198 total players participated in this year’s STLO.  A big “THANK YOU” goes out to everyone that signed up this year!

The festivities started off on Friday morning with Check-In at Endicott Park.  Everyone (including the PROs) received a Player’s Pack/Gift Pack.  Without a doubt, this year’s Player’s Pack will be a contender for Player’s Pack of the year…the value of the bag of goodies was off the charts (eclipsing $100 in value by a long shot).  Here is a quick rundown of the contents:

  • Tournament Dri-Fit T-Shirt
  • Stock stamped Dynamic Discs Bio-Fuzion Disc (mix of drivers and midranges)
  • Tournament stamped Innova Disc (Roc3, Ontario Star Roc, KC Pro Roc, TFR Flat Top KC Pro Roc, Champion Tern, Metal Flake Tern)
  • Tournament stamped Discraft Disc (Buzzz in Elite X, Z, ESP and Cryztal plastics, Nuke in Z and ESP plastics, Zombee in Z plastic, and Drone in Z, ESP, and Cryztal plastic)
  • Tournament stamped Gateway Disc (super grippy black RFF Wizard)
  • Schlafly logo stamped Disc (a sweet ultra-lightweight Gateway putter perfect for playing catch and warming up)
  • Aluminum water bottle
  • 24 oz. Koozie that fits around the water bottle
  • Scorecard Clipboard – custom CNC milled to fit inside of a Gateway putter
  • Erasable Scorecard
  • Tournament Pencil Set
  • Tournament Sticker
  • Player’s Handbook with all of the pertinent information for the entire weekend

As you can tell, all of the AMs should have pretty much felt like winners before the competition even started!

After Check-In, all of the players had a couple of choices for what they could do for the rest of the day.  Kyle Whitaker of Pin High Discs ran a PDGA C-Tier 1-Round Showdown at Carrollton Park DGC.  This was a FLEX start event that gave the out of town players a chance to play the newest addition to the STLO course lineup.  Local hotshot Zackeriath Johnson absolutely lit it up, shooting an insane 55 (course record).  Although the PDGA currently has his round rated at 1054, the reality is that he was probably a lot closer to shooting an 1100 rated round.  The closest competitors (both 1000+ rated players) were a distant 9 strokes behind, so you know that he absolutely crushed the championship layout!

The other option on Friday afternoon was the traditional Bring-Your-Own-Partner Doubles event at Endicott Park, run by Lars Nordgren of LSDiscs.  This event is always a blast!  The sounds of golfers enjoying some light-hearted competition could be heard throughout the evening.  It is always nice to get a little fun time in before you have to tighten the screws up for the official weekend.

9AM Saturday morning was the official start of the 8th Annual STLO.  The various pools played their 1st rounds in clear weather.  The weather forecast all week had called for clear skies all weekend with a 20-30% chance of some spot storms.  As fate would have it, that 20-30% chance turned out to be 100%.  A nasty storm developed right over the St. Louis metro area right as the first rounds were finishing up or were completed.  Some golfers reported torrential rain, flash flooding, hail, hydroplaning on the highway (yikes!), intense lightning, and, generally speaking, some dangerous weather.  Luckily all of this pretty much took place in between the 1st and 2nd rounds.  The 2nd round start times were delayed a bit because of this, but in all honesty, we were VERY fortunate that no one got caught out in the middle of the course when the weather gods threw down their best.  Once the 2nd rounds got started, everyone had to deal with some lingering drizzle, standing water, and slick fairways/tee boxes, but the nasty stuff had moved on for the most part.

After the 2nd rounds were completed, most everyone headed back to Tournament Central at Endicott for the Player’s Party.  All of the scores were tallied and displayed for everyone to see, there were some side games (Basket Toss and Accuracy Toss), and there was a nice spread of food catered by Qdoba restaurant.  The only regret of tournament staff all weekend was that they didn’t monitor the food a bit better.  Unfortunately some of the PROs were left out as their rounds didn’t finish up until close to dark and the rest of the pools maybe had a bit too much time and free reign…lesson learned.  In the future there will either be more food or some volunteers making sure that everyone only gets their fair share (can’t blame the hungry golfers).

Sunday morning came around with the top cards in all of the pools getting their final chance to make a move before the Final 9.  The PROs finished up their last full round at Endicott, with George Smith, Nikko Locastro, Justin Bunnell, and William Themm on the Men’s Pro Open lead card.  The battle for 1st place was only separated by 1-2 strokes, so the competition was hot and heavy!  As fate would have it, after the 18 holes were completed, the lead card was STILL only separated by 1-2 strokes going into the Final 9.  This might have been the closest the competition has ever been at the St. Louis Open!

Just about every division’s lead card played a Final 9.  The Pro Open Men, Pro Master Men, and Advanced divisions played a Safari Final 9, while the rest of the divisions played a Select Final 9.  The Pro Open Men were the last to go.  A very nice sized crowd of spectators followed them around and cheered for the good shots and groaned on the bad ones.  It is always a nice treat to see some of the top golfers in the world show off their amazing skills and also show that even they are human and make a bad throw every now and then.  The lead bounced around throughout the 9 holes, providing for some good drama.  After all of the dust had settled, the 2013 St. Louis Open Champion was crowned.  Nikko Locastro came out on top for his third year in a row!

Just as soon as the Final 9 rounds were completed, yet another set of nasty storms decided to pop up, cutting the Awards Ceremony short.  All of the plaques and payouts were handed out as quickly as possible and everybody high-tailed it out of there.  It was definitely an anticlimactic finish to such a great weekend, but St. Louis weather in June is what it is!  No matter how it finished, when it was all said and done, the 2013 STLO was great success!  A big “THANKS” goes out to all of the players, volunteers, spectators, and especially to Steady Ed Headrick for developing the game that we are so thoroughly enjoy!

See you all next year!

Perfect weather for the Deer Creek DG/BG Scramble on 6/8/13

I am going to start off by saying, “If you missed this event, you missed out on an incredible day of golf”!  The weather was perfect, the courses were in as good as shape as I have ever seen them, and the overall atmosphere was quite jovial.

When we first arrived at the course, there was another golf outing that was just getting ready to head out onto the ball golf course.  They all had their “breakfast drinks” in hand and an entourage of lovely ladies to “help” them around the course.  It was pretty apparent that we were going to have to try really hard to be the unruly bunch of the day.  SIDE NOTE – It was also noted later in the day that one of our groups was privy to a little unplanned side entertainment.  Since everyone in attendance was of legal consenting age, I guess you could just consider this a bonus!  But enough of the interesting anecdotes…let’s get to the competition…

The tournament started off with 2 rounds of 4-Man Scramble disc golf on the 4700’ White Course.  It was decided that both rounds would be played back-to-back to help save a little time.  Everyone was allowed to take a little break as they passed the clubhouse if desired, but it didn’t appear that anyone felt the need other than for the bathroom or for some cold beverages.  A bunch of good scores were tallied and there even was an ACE by Team Hogan.  It was a very tight race going into the ball golf – 3 teams were separated by only 3 strokes.

Deer Creek C.C. provided a build your own taco bar lunch in between so that everyone could stay on site.  Nothing like a couple of overstuffed tacos/burritos and a couple of cold ones to get you ready for the afternoon!

Since this really is a disc golfer event, the 2 rounds of disc golf helped keep the importance of the ball golf round down a bit.  As you would expect, most teams brought in a ringer that could take the pressure off of the rest of the ball golf newbies.  Either way, it was a refreshing change to play the original game that inspired the one that all of DG’ers love so much!  Team Stacked and Bogey Golf both turned in awesome scores (63 and 64 respectively), and overall I was very surprised at how low the ball golf scores were.  Not bad for a bunch of disc junkies!

Team Stacked ended out coming out on top when it was all said and done.  Considering their team name, it was probably a bit of a relief and a respite from any long-term ribbing from the other teams.  Teams Ballz Deep and Slow Pokes rounded out the top 3 spots.  Congratulations to the winners and to everyone that had as good a time as I did!  This event will certainly become a mainstay in the GDS tournament lineup for years to come.  The format might get tweaked a bit here and there, but the fun level should always remain the same.  See you next time!

 

P.S. The next Gateway Disc Sports event will be the Iron Man on July 6th.  The details are still being hammered out, but rest assured that this event will truly be the definition of “No Wimps, No Whiners”!

2013 DG/BG Scramble – 6/8 – Deer Creek C.C.
Team Name Buy-In Payout RD1-DG RD2-DG RD3-BG Total
Team Stacked (4) $120 $160 43 45 63 151
Ballz Deep (4) $120 $80 43 42 69 154
Slow Pokes (4) $120 $60 44 41 76 161
Bogey Golf (3) $120 48 50 64 162
Team Hogan (4) $120 53 52 71 176
Ace Holes (4) $120 53 56 69 178
Good Griefs (4) $120 57 57 78 192
Team CTPs Payout Calculations
Disc Golf Total Cost ($30/man)
Round 1 – Hole 18 – Team Stacked  - Greens Fees ($20/man)
Round 2 – Hole 18 – Ballz Deep  = $10/man to payouts
 + $30 from Bogey Golf (4th Man)
Ball Golf  
Hole 8 – Team Stacked Total Payout = $300
Hole 12 – Slow Pokes 1st – $160  2nd – $80  3rd – $60