The World of Disc Golf with Tõnis Soppe, the Disc Golf Fanatic

The World of Disc Golf with Tõnis Soppe, the Disc Golf Fanatic

Meet Tõnis Soppe, the driving force behind the Disc Golf Fanatic phenomenon, a name that resonates in disc golf circles worldwide. Let's delve into the world of the fanatic, exploring his disc golf journey, and the staggering number of rounds he plays annually. 

Who are you, what do you do?

Hey there, I'm Tõnis. You might know me as the guy who keeps spamming Facebook groups like European Disc Golf Players.

Tõnis Soppe Disc Golf Fanatic Disc golf europe

How long have you been playing disc golf?

I've been into disc golf for eight years now. It all started back in the summer of 2016 when my classmates and I, on an internship near Männiku course, spontaneously grabbed a couple of discs from Sportland in Järve center and hit the course. My first ever discs were Innova Eagle and Discmania MD2.

Being a fan of various throwing activities, disc golf quickly became a favorite sport of mine, and the rest is history.

What are your favorite discs?

Currently, my top picks for backhand throws are the Dynamic Discs Escape and Latitude 64 Explorer among fairway drivers. For forehand throws, I lean towards the Dynamic Discs Sergeant, while for mid-range shots, I prefer the Innova Mako3 and Axiom Hex. When it comes to approaches, I trust the Discraft Zone, and for putting, I've stuck with the Latitude 64 Macana in medium plastic for years.

How much do you actually play?

Shortly, on average, I play one and a half rounds, which is 27 holes, per day. If you think about it like that, it's not much at all.

When we dive a bit deeper, I usually play one or two rounds a day, occasionally three or four, but there are also days when I don't play at all. It mostly depends on the company and my mood. The latter is the most important, and I don't mean playing under the influence but just the feeling that I want to play. Many people spend hours every day in training, gym, running, or walking. Essentially, I do the same but with disc golf.

While for most people, strong wind, rain, snow, darkness, and other harsh conditions are disruptive factors and they don't find joy in playing disc golf in these conditions, for me, all kinds of extreme conditions make the game more exciting and challenging. 

Tõnis Soppe Disc Golf Fanatic European disc golf

Playing in very strong wind is, of course, a class of its own, and you can't experience that kind of fun anywhere else! I definitely recommend everyone to try it (within reason, of course).

But in numbers, how many rounds per year?

2023 – 500+ rounds played;

2022 – 613 rounds;

2021 – 537 rounds;

2020 – 575 rounds;

2019 – 392 rounds;

2018 – 287 rounds;

In 2016 and 2017, we recorded the rounds with acquaintances in some app on the phone, and unfortunately, all those rounds are lost. Still, I can confidently say that even in the early years, I played more than 150 rounds a year.

Additionally, I must mention that in the summer of 2022, I participated in a 24-hour disc golf marathon at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, playing a total of 575 holes with Vaiko Järvi! The last 9 hours were in pouring rain. 575 holes mean around 32 rounds on an 18-hole layout...

Tõnis Soppe Disc Golf Fanatic European disc golf

How do you manage this, and do you not work? What does your family think?

Regarding work, I can say that disc golf and playing it are part of my job, allowing me to dedicate ample time to this fantastic sport. My family is always supportive and cheers for my endeavors.

You won X10 last weekend, surpassing Estonia's top players. How do you putt so well?

Winning the recent X10 event at Viru Keskus, where I outperformed Estonia's top players, was a bit surprising. Early in the morning, we were still setting up the course, and focusing on two rounds after the installation has been challenging in the past, especially when competing against the likes of Rasmus Metsamaa and Mauri Villmann, the Estonian disc golf champions of ‘22 and ‘23. But in the second round, I ate a bag of M&M's, and things just clicked. Interestingly, at times during the second round, I felt like I didn't know how to putt at all, but looking at the scores later revealed that the second round went even better than the first, leading to my first X event title.

Tõnis Soppe Disc Golf Fanatic European disc golf

What has been the evolution of your putting – were you naturally skilled, or did it involve discovering techniques and training?

There's no natural talent here; it's all about consistent training over the years and a wealth of experience that played a key role in my recent success. I've faced various challenges in putting. I vividly remember a time at Männiku when I was scared to putt from a 10-meter circle, thinking I would miss anyway, so why bother. Luckily, I've overcome these mental blocks, and I'm really satisfied with my current form and mental resilience.

Additionally, if I ever feel off during putting, I have a couple of video clips from a competition at Tallinn T1 shopping center where I felt I was doing the right thing (even though I didn't win the competition). If needed, I review these clips and make minor adjustments.

My approach to putting is simple - run every putt, and if it misses, it misses. There's nothing to fear; it's just a game. Here, I'd also like to thank my coach, Silver Lätt, whose disc golf group training I've been part of since 2018.

What is your favorite disc golf course in Estonia?

Anytime, any weather, I can play Kurna, Kõrvemaa, and the various layouts at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds for 24 hours straight.

Tõnis Soppe Disc Golf Fanatic Kurna European Disc Golf

Have you played abroad?

I've participated a couple of times in Europe's largest disc golf event, the Tyyni Open in Finland, and played the courses there. Additionally, I've played in Spain, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic, where I even managed to ace a shot at Ladronka disc golf course. However, on a broader scale, my international play has been limited. While I'd love to explore and play all those fantastic courses in other countries, resources, mainly money, are limited, and unfortunately, it doesn't grow on trees. Sometimes you have to balance playing with work.

What are your off-season plans, or do you even have an off-season?

Honestly, there's no such thing as an off-season for me. During winter, I play a bit less due to thick snow and cold, around 20-30 rounds a month.

As mentioned earlier, thick snow and darkness aren't obstacles for me. Winter games with friends have revealed that good glow discs are visible even through a 30-40 cm thick layer of snow. Hence, we often prefer hitting the course in the dark during winter. With layered clothing, UV & LED flashlights, a brush or shovel in hand, and we're good to go!

Your other alias is Disc Golf Fanatic. Tell me, how did that start, where did the idea come from?

The creation of the Disc Golf Fanatic website and brand was primarily to document and archive my disc golf experiences. I realized around the summer of 2020 that I play a bit more than the average hobbyist and decided to share my journey in some way. It evolved rapidly, and now, creating disc golf content and sharing it has become one of my main occupations.

Tõnis Soppe Disc Golf Fanatic European Disc Golf Albert Bazooka Tamm

Foto: Mauri Levandi

Tell me about the statistics too - how many followers, and where are they from?

As the Disc Golf Fanatic brand and website are primarily geared towards an English-speaking audience, about 75% of my followers come from the United States, the world's largest disc golf country. The remaining 25% are distributed among other major disc golf nations like Finland, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Overall, I have around 25,000 to 30,000 unique followers across various social platforms.

What are the future plans with Fanatic?

At the moment, I don't have a concrete answer to future plans for Fanatic. The current plan is to continue creating disc golf content and covering the sport.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming season?

I'm most excited about the European Disc Golf Festival scheduled for the summer of 2024 in Estonia, taking place on July 26-28 at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. It's a top-tier event in the Disc Golf Pro Tour Elite series, and hopefully, it will attract the absolute cream of the disc golf crop to Tallinn.