Its Thanksgiving and one of the many things I am thankful for this time of year is disc golf. A tip o’ the hat goes out to the late Ed Headrick, the Father of Disc Golf.
Ever have a great round of disc golf and wondered who it was that made disc golf possible? Did you ever think about the effort needed to to get a course in the ground, or who maintains it? How about the last tournament you competed in, did you thank the TD for the time he/she donated so you could play? Who designed the course anyway? Take a look behind the scenes at any disc golf tournament or disc golf course to see and appreciate the effort put forth by disc golfers so that we may enjoy this great sport. Who are the people who make disc golf possible?
League director (LD). The LD has a largely thankless job. Being an LD means showing up for league early every time there is a league, keeping track of the funds collected, herding the cats (disc golfers) onto cards (groups) and paying out the winnings. This is a big responsibility because a large chunk of club revenues come from leagues. The disc golf club is the basic building block of disc golf. The local leagues, and the club that runs the leagues, are where most disc golfers learn the culture of disc golf. Many disc golfers aspire to compete in tournaments and the first time competing is almost always the local disc golf league. The next time you are late to league and then want to be assigned to a specific group after you have everyone redraw their card assignments make sure you thank your league director!
Your club’s president and vice presidents and other officers should have earned your respect by now. They do all of the planning and much of the labor in keeping the courses maintained and the disc golf club together. They plan all the fun club activities, recruit new disc golfers (the life blood of the sport), handle the press, maintain the local disc golf culture, and basically keep the sport of disc golf active in your area so that disc golf has a foundation to spread and gain popularity.
Your local disc golf retailer is the “go to guy” when you want to buy a variety of discs. Many times the local disc golf retailer is also a big tournament promoter. Sure we can all go to the local drug store or sporting goods store to buy discs, but who do we direct our questions to or get the colors and weights we want? The retailer has a stake in the success of the local disc golf scene and does what he/she can to support it. I send all new disc golfers to Sunking Discs, or TY Disc Golf so that Mike and Ryan can dial them in with discs and answer their questions. Why? Because if the new disc golfer has positive experiences they will stay disc golfers for a long time to come.
The Tournament Director (TD) is the one you thank for having such a great time at that last tournament. The tournament director’s job entails keeping the competition level up to snuff. He or she is the person that must execute the needed jobs – and there are several – to pull off that successful tournament. Chances are the TDs spend weeks preparing for tournaments. Any newly aspiring TD’s with questions may want to ask Mike & Linda Lennon (TDs for the Sizzler) for some tips.
The Tour Director. If you live and disc golf in Florida then you are familiar with Shawn Harrigan, the Fabulous Florida Tour Director. The tour director is like the tournament director, but on a much bigger scope. My first time “touring” was in the state of Florida and I had a blast! I was hooked on disc golf and I met some great folks on the Fabulous Florida Tour. In my opinion Shawn Harrigan played a big part in spreading the sport of disc golf throughout Florida and the South East. Thanks Shawn!
The Pro. As far as spreading the word of disc golf on tour lets not forget the role of “The Disc Golf Professional”. These are the folks who spend most of their time promoting themselves and the sport – often at their own expense. They have spent hour after hour and year after year practicing so they can give us the awe inspiring moments that will one day be part of a Nike or an Oakley commercial.
The PDGA. The reason disc golfers can participate in sanctioned events at a discounted rate, and compete in member-only events (SuperTours, National Tour Elite Series and Majors) is because of our main organization – the Professional Disc Golf Association. The president and staff do the tracking of player points, ratings, and player statistics. Our offiical DiscGolfer magazine is published wth the oversight of the PDGA. The next time you stop by the PDGA headquarters in Appling make sure you give a nod to the staff for their dedication to the sport. Check out the PDGA’s website on becoming a member.
Your Fellow Disc Golfers. You know who they are, the ones who make every round a blast so that you want to come back to play again and again. The ones who show up and help out at the courses before and after each event. The ones who keep egging you on with kind hearted smack talk. Your fellow disc golfers are the reason for showing up. Good people. Those are your fellow disc golfers.
So when you are seated at the table this week with your favorite people and you all state out loud for what you are thankful for don’t forget to give a shout out to the people that make disc golf possible. Have I left someone out? Leave a comment.
Happy Thankgiving from DiscGolfAddiction.com, and thank you all for your contributions to the sport of disc golf.