The story of Eagle and his dad, Pat, is a great reminder of how amazing this sport can be.
June 18, 2021 by Darren LeMay in Opinion, Video with comments
An Eagle’s Trail is the latest disc golf documentary by director Brian Guice and JomezPro, and joins a growing list of incredible docu-style disc golf content released in the past year.
The film’s focus is more than just a career highlight reel of Eagle McMahon, or even a primer on the pro’s success at a young age in the lead-up to 2021 Pro Worlds where McMahon is among the favorites. Instead it focuses on Eagle and his father, Pat McMahon, and how they grew their relationship through the sport.
The Eagle Wynn Trail, from which the film borrows its name, is a combination of several different trails circling Eagle’s hometown of Boulder, Colorado, mapped out by Pat and Eagle’s mother, Stephanie. In total it is about 40 miles or so in length and was created with the intention to be completed annually. It also helps guide the film and sets an incredible timeline to Eagle’s life.
While most viewers will probably already be aware of Stephanie’s untimely passing, Guice does well to capture the heartbreak and add details to the story, as well as focus on how the McMahon family dealt with the tragedy. As a father of three whose children are all about the same age as Eagle when his mother passed, I can only imagine the struggles Pat went through for not only his son, but himself as well. Eagle states he personally was, “pretty wrecked.” Watching home videos of him as a kid and thinking about how terrifying that must have been for him at 10 years old is brutal. So is thinking about Stephanie never seeing what Eagle has become as not only an athlete but an adult. Even if you’re not yet a parent, it’s an impactful act of the film.
“Finding disc golf…..I would say it saved our lives.” – Pat McMahon
Included home videos Pat shot during Eagle’s youth become integral to the narrative. It was a very forward thinking effort to film so much of their lives together in a time without the ease of cell phone videos. As I watched I found myself very impressed that they not only shot these but held onto them for this long. All the videos of them playing disc golf and enjoying life are not only great to see, but helps us understand why Eagle has been so successful with his own vlogs and live videos.
The film does a wonderful job showing how disc golf was a medium for Eagle and Pat to not only cope with the death of Eagle’s mom, but for them to grow such a strong bond as father and son. They learned the game together and in turn learned about life together. Eagle’s progress from all the hours they spent playing and practicing is documented. Having his dad push him to play as well as always being there to play with and compete against was such a great driving force to improve his game, and unknowingly conditioned him for the professional side of the sport.
The breathtakingly beautiful landscapes of Boulder helps serve as an amazing backdrop and a bit of a subtheme of the documentary. It is easy to see how they were able to stay grounded and keep the train on the tracks, if you will. That place appears to really be something special. As Pat states, “You feel like you’re in a bubble in Boulder.”
While it is on the shorter end for a documentary, it covers the intended topic in nearly full detail, and keeps the film short enough to appeal to the disc golf fans who are accustomed to typical round videos being in the 30 minute range. There were a few spots that I would have liked slightly more insight, but that feels very nit-picky by the end.
As for the technical aspects, the film looks and sounds absolutely incredible. All of the camera work is flawless and crystal clear. The color and brightness levels all seem to flow perfectly. The shots on the snow-filled landscapes really shine in HD. The audio side of the film is just as strong — an incredible score and soundtrack lay perfectly behind the content and never outshine or underperformed against the imagery being presented.
Overall this was a fantastic job by director Brian Guice and the entire crew. This story was the perfect opportunity to give audiences content on the sport without any direct correlation to the professional game we get so much of. A lot of personal information about the top pros in disc golf is readily available online and in interviews, especially Eagle who has lived his entire professional career in front of a camera. Learning these unknown aspects of his life was quite a revelation as a viewer.
The story of Eagle and Pat and their path into disc golf is a great reminder of how amazing this sport can be. There are several takeaways from this film that will directly reflect many people’s lives.
We all have problems and can learn from the McMahons’ journey, and use plastic and chains to help us escape and resolve those issues.