My name is Justin Weilacher and I fell in love with disc golf about 5 years ago. I had just moved to Flagstaff, Az. for work. The job didn’t work out and I found myself unemployed for about a month. During that time, I played as much disc golf as I could. I had played a few times in Gainesville, Fl. while in college with some friends. The rounds were as much about beer and friends as they were about golf. I still have a soft spot for the course there, Northside Park, and play it every chance I get. Hopefully, I can compete in an event there someday.
I was lucky that I found disc golf in Flagstaff. There are 4 quality courses within a 20 mile radius: McPherson, Northern Arizona University, Thorpe, and Snowbowl. There is so much variety at these courses: long holes, shorter technical holes, holes with elevation change – everything you need to master most aspects of disc golf. No wonder the new Tour Events Manager was part of this community.
There is also one of the best disc golf communities I’ve seen. The Flagstaff Disc Golf Club, run by a great guy named Barley, was very inviting, ran good tournies, maintained regular weekly events and encouraged new players to learn and love the sport. Their website is well maintained, consistently posts weekly league scores, and encourages communication in a very inviting community There is a wide range of skill levels and all are welcome – unlike some of the communities in California that shun new players.
After two years playing Northern California disc golf, I was unhappy with the golf scene. Some local clubs were exclusive and resentful of poor players on their courses. I witnessed rudeness and douchebaggery on a level I had not imagined. I was at the Rocklin golf course when a weekly league started and all of a sudden there was a group of 5 on every hole with no regard for the folks already playing the course. They acted like we were trespassing. No signage, no offer to play through, just a stern “this is a weekly league and this is our tee-pad.” We would have never acted this way in Flagstaff.
Soon after, I met a golfer out of the San Jose area named Armando during a PDGA event. We discovered that we had played together in some Arizona events in the Show Low area and that we shared the same feelings about etiquette. We agreed that disc golf needed a new direction, a direction to make disc golf a mainstream sport that is respected.
Last year, I saw a clip on SportsCenter of an amazing catch during the first Professional Ultimate Frisbee Championships. The anchors made some jokes about hippies and beer. All disc sports have this stigma but there are thousands of serious athletes in Ultimate and Disc Golf. There is currently a petition asking ESPN producers to add Disc Golf coverage to their programming. Please check out the link and sign the petition.
A good friend set up this WordPress page for me. Without his initiative, I might still just be complaining all the time rather than finding a constructive outlet for my feelings. Thanks Joe. This blog has helped me define what I want to achieve and how I want to achieve it. It has helped my behavior on the course evolve for the best.
My hope is that this blog will create a discussion, an open dialog, that will allow other golfers with similar feelings to come together to elevate our sport to a respectable level like ball golf. I invite all opinions to be expressed here. Until we feel comfortable talking about these issues, we will never be anything but a niche sport.
While I have always disliked rudeness on the course, it seems particularly bad in Northern California. From some of the feedback I’ve gotten from this blog and from Reddit, it seems clear there are thousands of respectable golf communities and millions of responsible disc golfers out there all of whom want more for our sport. It also seems clear the PDGA is concerned about many of these same issues. Check out my post on Ratings Manipulation and the PDGA’s efforts to curtail it and look for a future post about the PDGA’s efforts to create a True Amateur system.
Thanks for reading and remember that every time you are on a course you are an ambassador for our sport.