Landon Brooks, 7, putts a disc at his home in Turner on Wednesday afternoon. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
Landon Brooks, 7, shows off his many disc golf trophies at his home in Turner on Wednesday afternoon. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
TURNER — Landon Brooks isn’t having the typical summer of a 7-year-old kid.
This week, he returned from Kansas with his second world championship in disc golf, and he’ll head out soon for tournaments in California, Vermont and Michigan.
He has gear and apparel sponsorships and is already comfortable with news interviews. But, his father, Robert Brooks, said most importantly, Landon is “having a blast.”
And why not? He began competing in the sport at age 5, and has already seen half the country. And his trophies are piling up.
He competed in his first Professional Disc Golf Association events when he was 5, after the association announced expanded divisions for younger ages.
His first junior disc golf world championship came two years ago in the 5-and-under division. Last year, at 6, he took home third place in the 8-and-under division. This year, he competed in the 8-and-under division and bested 11 other competitors. He also took home the top prize in the doubles category.
Disc golf is formatted much like traditional golf. Participants attempt to throw small Frisbee-like discs into a chain basket with the least amount of throws, which is repeated on a number of “holes” with varying pars. Like golf, courses are normally nine or 18 holes.
When asked this week what he thought about the recent tournament, Landon said the field was talented.
“I fought to keep up,” he said.
Landon said he sees many of the same competitors at each tournament, and has fun hanging out and making new friends. In a video posted online last week, Landon was interviewed alongside a friend and competitor at a zoo near the tournament.
His favorite thing about doing the competitions? “Trying hard. If you don’t try, you won’t know,” he said.
Robert Brooks said Tuesday that he and his wife had always played disc golf as a hobby, and when their son was born, they started bringing him along.
Robert said that by the time Landon was 3, he began throwing the discs and eventually played rounds with them.
“He was able to throw it far enough that he could walk the course with us,” he said. “We kind of knew then that he was going to be really good.”
The family’s “home course” is Sabattus Disc Golf in Sabattus, which supports Landon’s practices.
“They have one of the best facilities in the country and we are very grateful to have it as our home course to play on,” Landon’s mother, Jessi Brooks, said about Sabattus Disc Golf. “They have been super welcoming and supportive of Landon since the start.”
Landon is also sponsored by MVP Disc Sports, a disc manufacturer
Disc golf as a competitive sport is gaining momentum, and the presence of more young people is positive news to those in the industry.
Brittanie Betsch, marketing director for Sabattus Disc Golf, said Maine has seen a rise in interest in disc golf in general, but also competitively.
“I’ve heard of the number of local tournament participants doubling, even tripling in numbers over the previous year. So the interest is definitely there,” she said.
She said at a recent local tournament, there were 72 participants ranging from 5 to 18 years old.
“There’s a strong interest in the disc golf community in the younger players,” she said. “We hope to see even more of this type of thing, especially in Maine, in the future.”
Landon seems to be a natural athlete, and disc golf is just his summer sport. During the rest of the year, he’s on the wrestling team, and participates in soccer, baseball and track.
Robert believes that Landon’s experience in wrestling has helped him in a tournament setting, especially while facing adversity.
“Wrestling is intense. He’s been down in wrestling and lost,” he said.
Robert said it has translated to disc golf tournaments, where Landon doesn’t get upset if he’s losing.
The tournaments are also formatted like traditional golf, with a number of rounds adding up to a total score. In Kansas, Robert said Landon started out in the lead, but lost it at one point.
“He came back the next day,” Robert said. “It was a pretty stressful ride. I think it’s more stressful for the parents.”
Landon Brooks, 7, stands with his trophies after winning a world disc golf tournament in Kansas this past weekend. Brooks will compete in tournaments this summer in California, Vermont and Michigan. (Submitted photo)
Landon Brooks, a 7-year-old from Turner, recently won his second world championship in disc golf, this time in the 8-and-under division. His “home course” is Sabattus Disc Golf. (Submitted photo)
Landon Brooks, 7, of Turner accepts his trophy after winning the junior disc golf world championship this past weekend in Kansas. (Submitted photo)