Disc Golf: What to know to be in the know

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Disc Golf: What to know to be in the know

Gary Smith, Director of Operations, CUTV

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In the past two weeks we have learned how to get into disc golf and also some basics of how discs work.  In this week’s segment we are going to learn about some history of the sport, great players, and much more so that you can name drop when going out on the course and feel like a long time player in no time.

The sport of disc golf can trace its history back to the invention and marketing of the Frisbee after World War II.  The first “Pluto Platters” were a huge hit and the company Wham-O hired a marketing genius named Ed Headrick, who would become known as the father of disc golf.  He came up with a slight modification to the existing design by adding lines around the flight plate know as the “Rings of Headrick,” which added stability to the disc and made them more controllable.  Headrick was responsible for encouraging new games to be invented as he sold discs to individuals and stores, one of which was disc golf.  He was the spearhead behind standardized equipment, mainly the design and development of the target.  He founded the Disc Golf Association and was a key member of founding the governing body of the sport, the Professional Disc Golfers Assocation (PDGA) in 1976.

The next big mover and shaker in the sport would have to be Dave Dunipace.  Dunipace was a former competitive player in the 1970’s and in 1983 came up with a patent for the first disc ever specifically designed for disc golf, the Eagle.  The Eagle was different from a normal “catch” Frisbee in that the diameter was smaller and the overall height was narrower, resulting in a disc that could be thrown farther and offer more control than ever before.  Innova under Dunipace’s direction and leadership has become the biggest manufacturer of discs in the world and they are generally responsible for the 4 number rating system all other companies use to rate new discs.

Stamped on a large number of those Innova dics is the name Ken Climo (AKA The Champ).  In the relative short period of time that the sport of disc golf has been played, Climo has the greatest competitive record of all.  A 12-time world champion he won his first title in 1990 in Scottsdale, Arizona and his last in 2006 in Augusta, Georgia.  He has been credited with 231 Professional wins and was elected in the the Disc Golf Hall of Fame in 1995.

Currently the competitive landscape is filled with top quality players on both the men’s and women’s side.  The two names on the men’s side that are consistently at the top of the leaderboards are Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki.  McBeth made huge news this winter by signing the largest endorsement contract in disc golf history; one million dollars over 4 years by the disc maker Discraft.  McBeth’s money is well earned as he is a 4-time world champion.  Ricky Wysocki is a 2-time world champion and also received a huge endorsement deal from Innova this off-season.  

On the women’s side of the ledger are the two Paiges; Pierce and Bjerkaas.  Paige Pierce is a long throwing 3-time world champion from Plano, Texas.  She is sponsored by Dynamic Discs and has redefined the women’s game with both her prodigious length off the tee and deadly putting accuracy.  Paige Bjerkaas has grown up in the sport as both of her parents have been involved in competition, promotion and tournament organization.  The 21-year old won the world championship in 2018 and is also sponsored by Dynamic Discs.  The 4 players mentioned are at the fore-front of players being able to tour full-time and not have to rely on other jobs to make a living.

To find out more about the goings on in the disc golf world there are two podcasts to check out for the beginning player for tips and also to find out what is going on the national tour.  The Disc Golf Answer Man podcast is a question and answer show sponsored by Dynamic Discs and features Bobby Brown, 2010 World Champion Eric McCabe and Robert McCall who is a fine player in his own right.  PDGA Radio hosted by Steve Hill and Sara Lambertson is the official podcast of the PDGA.  It features tournament results and player interviews.  There are others which a quick internet search will reveal, but these are the two that has the best information for the new player. Check back in the next print edition of the Cal Times for more disc golf news and action!