After the March 2022 PDGA ratings update, Eagle McMahon is once again the highest-rated disc golfer in the world. At just 23 years old, he is already one of the most accomplished players in the game's history, and he hasn't even reached his prime.
Since he broke onto the pro scene in 2015, Eagle has been a torchbearer for a new generation of disc golfers. While he continues to push the limits of what is possible with a disc, he has also used the rapidly evolving media landscape to tell his personal story.
Eagle's growth from young phenom to perennial contender reveals both the explosive growth of the sport and the possibility of what is coming next. Here are 13 interesting facts about one of the most exciting players in the game.
His Name Really Is Eagle
The name Eagle Wynne McMahon just seems destined for golf greatness. Eagle has more than lived up to both the low scores and the "Wynne-ing" ways the name promises in his young career. But the story behind his unique name has nothing to do with sports.
As the story goes, after finishing a run at White Rocks Nature Preserve in Boulder, Colorado, Eagle's parents took a moment to think about what to name their son. They wanted something unique. His father Patrick saw an eagle fly by and, struck with a bolt of inspiration, the name "Eagle Wynne" popped into his head, and a legend was born.
Disc Golf Runs In His Family
A family friend introduced the McMahons to disc golf in June of 2007. A month later, tragedy struck. Eagle's mother, Stephanie, passed away. Suddenly father and son faced the challenge of persevering through an incomprehensible tragedy.
In the excellent documentary "An Eagle's Trail," Patrick says that finding disc golf "saved our lives." Produced by Jomez Productions and directed by Brian Guice, this heartfelt film tells the story of Patrick and Eagle bonding through their shared love of the sport.
By intercutting home footage of young Eagle ripping discs with in-depth interviews in the present day, this short documentary illuminates the depth of feeling at the core of his journey to be the best in the world.
You can watch Eagle's inspirational story here:
He Was Homeschooled
Eagle never stepped foot in a public school. We are all familiar with the common term "homeschooled," but McMahon actually refers to his education as "unschooled." This informal learning method allows children to delve into their personal interests rather than following a set curriculum. Eagle credits this academic freedom as a significant factor in growing his disc golf game.
One of Eagle's main rivals, two-time World Champion Ricky Wysocki, also didn't attend formal school. I suppose if you want your kid to become a 1050+ rated disc golf phenom, get them out of school and put them on the course. From Putting 101 to Advanced Hyzer Theory, you'll have a disc valedictorian in no time.
His Home Course Is In Colorado
Eagle first sent his discs soaring at Harlow Platts Disc Golf Course in Boulder, Colorado. This wide-open course has plenty of space to learn how to shape lines and crush discs for maximum distance.
This is a perfect track for beginners, and with the beautiful mountain views as a backdrop, it's no wonder Eagle fell in love with the sport. For him, this course feels like home.
His Dad Plays Too (And Is Good)
Eagle's father is an excellent disc golfer in his own right. Despite Patrick's formidable skills, young Eagle was still able to beat his dad by the time he was 13 years old. This father-son duo dominated the Colorado disc golf scene as a doubles squad. Unfortunately, Patrick's PDGA profile is not up to date, but it does show he has won nine events and has $4300 in career earnings.
Despite his modest success as a player, Patrick insists that he and his son taught each other to play disc golf and always pushed each other to take their game to the next level. It's a great reminder that no one becomes a champion without the support and love of family, friends, and community.
He Went Pro At Age 13
In September 2011, at the ripe old age of 13, Eagle entered the Mixed Professional Open field. After a few mediocre performances at small events, he signed up for his first A-Tier tournament, the Colorado State Championships.
In the first round, he put up a 1029 rated 45, good for a tie for third place and beating out well-established pros Cale Leiviska and 2008 World Champion Avery Jenkins.
While he fell back in rounds 2 and 3 and finished the event in 28th place, Eagle certainly raised some eyebrows that weekend. Three years later, he returned to the same tournament and dominated the field, winning by seven strokes and establishing himself as the disc golf king of the rocky mountain state.
He Made Lead Card At His First Major
Eagle's rise runs parallel to the growth of disc golf media giant Jomez Productions. As if he were destined for greatness, the stars aligned for Eagle at his first Major event on the National Tour: the 2015 Glass Blown Open in Emporia, Kansas.
This was just the third event covered by Jomez, and both the fledgling production company and the 17-year-old from Colorado were relative unknowns in the disc golf world.
While his 9th place finish was a bit of a disappointment, being on the lead card with Paul McBeth, Dave Feldberg, and Will Shusterick significantly boosted his profile. Watch Eagle revisit his final round "meltdown" in this video:
He Learned From Watching Nate Sexton
In the first few years of his pro career, Eagle quickly became one of the best players in the world. But his first major victory still eluded him. McMahon was so talented that he could compete at the highest level while playing a hyper-aggressive attacking style. He started refining his game and quickly became an unstoppable machine by incorporating techniques he learned from watching Nate Sexton.
It all came together in Europe at the 2018 Konopiste Open in Benesov, Chech Republic. Eagle tore up the beautiful Franz Ferdinand course en route to his first major victory by combining his big distance with a more conservative and thoughtful playstyle. Over four rounds, he shot 58 under par, with an average round rating of 1067.
The always humble Sexton recalls hearing about Eagle's adoption of his signature playstyle and thinking, "well, I'm never going to win again." A bit of an exaggeration, of course, but it's hard to imagine anyone catching Eagle when he's playing his best.
He Is Vegan
On a recent episode of his podcast "Running It," Nate Sexton recalls traveling with Eagle to Europe and watching him wolf down a bowl of pasta dressed with nothing but "the most black pepper I've seen a human use." Eagle had to survive on dry pasta with pepper when there were no vegan restaurants nearby.
Eagle points out that the challenging part of his diet is traveling since finding vegan options can sometimes be difficult. In light of this, Eagle has relaxed his diet somewhat but remains hyper-conscious of how his food is sourced. He approaches his diet with the same thoughtful discipline that he approaches a tricky green.
His Forehand Is Next-Level
It seems like every professional player has a good forehand game these days. But not too long ago, it was considered a specialty shot. Ken, "The Champ" Climo, famously won 12 World Championships throwing 99% backhand. As the sport grew, so did the popularity of the sidearm shot.
Eagle has taken his forehand throwing technique to a whole new level in the past few years. There is little debate that he has developed the best forehand of all time.
Read Next: The 11 Best Sidearm Distance Drivers
Combining unparalleled power and pinpoint accuracy, Eagle's forehand has evolved into a devastating weapon that he can unleash in even the most uncomfortable situations, such as this standstill 400+ foot approach while straddling a freakin' guard rail:
Just listen to the astonished reactions of three elite forehand players–Sexton, Jeremy Koling, and Paul Ulibarri–on the commentary. These guys make their living with power forehands, and they still can't believe what they just saw.
He Is Ambidextrous
In the fall of 2021, Eagle injured his right shoulder while throwing a trick forehand shot with a full 360-degree spin during his run-up. You can see a video of the moment he suffered the injury here. While his shoulder heals, Eagle is reluctant to throw full power forehands, leading to the next evolution of his game: throwing left-handed.
At the Las Vegas Challenge in February 2022, Eagle unveiled his lefty power backhand during a Pro Tour event. Just watch him crush one well over 300 feet.
Time will tell if he develops the left hand into a viable long-term weapon, but for now, we can marvel at the seemingly inexhaustible well of throwing talent this man possesses.
While his tall and lanky frame is ideal for launching discs, Eagle puts in work to maximize his innate talents. He follows training principles developed by Seth Munsey at Disc Golf Strong for cross-training. This training program is built on the idea that disc golfers should treat their bodies like other high-level athletes.
Disc Golf Strong promotes mobility and elasticity over brute strength through many bodyweight and elastic band-based exercises. Munsey's programs target body areas specific to throwing discs, and his methods are cheap and easy to accomplish.
This focused attention on cross-training is a relatively new development in a sport long associated with crushing beers just as much as crushing discs. This is yet another area where Eagle is at the forefront of pushing the sport to another level of skill and professionalism.
He Is Good At Breaking Down Technique
Ever since I picked up a disc way back in 1998, I've been searching online for instructional videos and articles that might reveal the secrets of good throwing technique. I know from experience how hard it is to find a good teacher, as many great players are much better at throwing a disc than they are at explaining how they did it.
It turns out Eagle is very good at breaking down his throwing form in an easy-to-understand way. His "Sidearm Clinic and Form Breakdown" video is my go-to recommendation for players who want to learn the forehand shot. Obviously, you can't expect to match Eagle's unique arm action exactly, but he does a great job of explaining the fundamentals so you can build your own style: