Holly May is in one of the biggest months of her life.
By August’s end she will be competing in the 2022 Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships in Emporia, Kansas. She is spending this month preparing, training to compete in that event, which will – as the tournament’s title indicates – bring together most of the world’s best at the sport.
Only five and a half years into her disc golf career, the former University of the Southwest softball scholarship player is getting to mix it up with elite disc throwers.
And she is of two minds about doing so.
“I’m really nervous,” May said. “It’s my first big tournament, biggest field ever. But I really am excited. It’s in Emporia, Kansas, which is the Super Bowl I would say, or the Omaha (where the college world series is held) of disc golf. Yeah, I’m just really looking forward to it, just for the experience as well.”
That experience will be invaluable for May because not just anyone can play in the worlds.
“It’s an invitational,” she said. “You have to be at a certain rating to get that invite.”
According to May, disc golfers who compete regularly in tournaments have a PDGA number, getting a rating each time they play a round, and the ratings build up round after round, tournament after tournament.
May found out about her invite in early spring. The world championships will begin August 30 and run through September 3, so May is now within a month from the most important opportunity of her disc golf career so far.
“I’m extremely excited for her,” said May’s husband Josh, himself an avid disc golfer and tournament competitor. “I’ve always wanted to see what she could do against the top girls in the world, and now she’s getting her opportunity. I’m super proud of her.”
Holly May has played at some tough courses, including Ruidoso’s Moon Mountain Disc Golf Course. “It’s mountain golf,” she said, “and so it’s a whole other experience over there because it’s like you’re hiking. It puts you in your place about how good a shape you’re in.”
Holly May has also tackled Big Mack Memorial Disc Park in Lubbock, the longest disc golf course in Texas. “It’s a pretty large park where they have two courses,” she said, “and then another one just across the street from there.”
The Ruidoso tournament was the furthest the Mays have traveled for one this year, so the 10-1/2 hour stretch between Hobbs and Emporia, Kansas will be a trek by comparison. It is also likely to offer adverse weather conditions once they get there.
“Typically they say Kansas is windy,” Josh May said. “And they say that’s what gets most people – the wind.”
Which could be an advantage for Holly May, who has played on plenty of windy days in Hobbs and other parts of this region.
“I’m not going to say we hope it’s windy,” Josh May said. “I really just want to see where she fits.”
Windy or not, the world championships will offer Holly May an opportunity to test her skills, her strategy, her stamina against all the disc golfers who will converge on Emporia.
“These are your top females in the world,” she said. “Since it’s the largest field I’ll be playing in, I would be ecstatic if I finished in the top half of it. You have Paige Pierce, Kristin Tattar, those are your top female players.”
Pierce, of Plano, Texas, is a five-time world champion and 15-time major winner. Tattar, of the country Estonia, has won 71 of the 128 events she has entered, and pocketed nearly $67,000 for her troubles. Pierce and Tattar are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively.
That’s a lot of pressure for Holly May, a world championship newbie.
“Hopefully I can caddy good for her, keep her calm,” Josh May said. “We’ve always wanted to go play a tour event. This is her chance. Playing local tournaments is not the same; the way they cater to you at tour events, it’s going to be a different experience.”
“I’m excited for this experience, just learning everything,” Holly May said, “because I really feel like I have so much more to learn. Every day is a new day.”