My first two years playing disc golf were primarily all about quantity. I played every chance I could get including the winter. I played between sales calls for lawn-care in the spring, after work all summer at a few different leagues, taking road-trips to hit multiple courses on a weekend or to play in a tournament, or just a casual round with friends. I played almost daily and maintained an average of 18 holes played over the first few years after starting the game. My game was improving rapidly which often happens when you play every day. MY PDGA history had a traumatic start with a Triple Circle 8 on my 1st PDGA hole ever. Yes I tin cupped a water hole where I knew I could clear the water . . . darnit I made the “birdie” on my 4th drive! Eventually I saw my rating start to climb. I won my first Recreational tournament a little over a year into the game and moved up to Intermediate despite my 846 rating. I kept improving and got my rating up to 915 by the end of 2010 which remains my highest rating ever. I’ve pretty much floated between 900-915 with a couple of times due to 1 or 2 really bad tournaments.
I also began to blog about my experiences on a very simple website which was mostly text and some marginal quality photos to try to tell a story. I focused a lot on course design concepts as well as maintenance and construction issues that I saw on my travels. At the time I didn’t realize just how much work was being done by volunteers so while I may have rubbed some people the wrong way with my critical nature of some of the courses I came across, it was only intended help people learn. I can’t blame someone who volunteers at a course to build steps with rebar and old cutup logs . . . because their parks department doesn’t have the man-power or the funding to make that stairway come to life . . . but when most of my travels only see a course at one moment in time . . . the negative things are the easiest to spot so that is what my blog was about mostly . . . with my own personal experiences in travel and tournament play sprinkled in from time to time.
I began to volunteer at my local course Valley View in New Berlin, WI. It started with just moving baskets around and leading workdays to clean up the course. We would get the city to drop mulch in trouble areas (due to moisture and erosion) and we would apply a layer of fresh mulch so we can play the course without any issue. Over time it developed into dead tree removal, creation of new basket locations, hauling baskets to our winter holes and back out in spring and whatever else I had time to take care of . . . with a lot of help from others along the way. At this point the idea of a disc golf business was started in my mind, albeit just an idea. I wanted to be a professional course designer so that I could use my background in Horticulture, my 20 years experience of designing and maintaining lawns and landscapes including 10 years of golf course management, along with my passion for the sport of disc golf to help provide safer and more sustainable disc golf courses for the future.
This also happened to come at a time where some of my friends were encouraging me to start running my own league because they appreciated my passion and the way I conducted myself. I also enjoyed the weekly league competitions more-so than any tournament I had attended so that was my natural first step. I ordered up some disc golf clothing from DGA, some Gateway glow discs (because my first league was a glow league), and tried to establish a relationship with the larger Disc Golf companies as a new entity in the sport.