If you’ve never heard of disc golf before then you are in the same position that I was in 17 years ago when I first came to town. Crescent City is where I learned this amazing sport and playing here with the wind, the rain and the longer holes has made me good enough to play against some of the best players in California, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It has also - apparently - made me good enough to compete internationally.
I’ve been invited by the Professional Disc Golf Association to play in the Disc Golf Masters World Tournament 2019 in Vermont this June. By the end of this letter I hope you’ll consider helping me to make that trip.
For me it all started after finishing my AmeriCorps obligation as an environmental educator. I started leadership summer camps in 2002 to share the things I’d learned in the Corps and it was one of the first groups of summer camp kids who shared with me the local litany that, “there’s nothing to do in this town.”
I had recently been working with Kevin Hendrick and his wing man, Tedd Ward, suggested that we go out for a “smoking break,” which involved zero tobacco. Instead, Tedd placed a flattened out Frisbee in my hand and he made up an obstacle course in Beachfront Park that took us 10 minutes to play. It was challenging, fun, and a very good way to take a brief break on a sunny afternoon. That same week a friend introduced me to an actual disc golf course in Eureka.
One day, on a whim I shared the sport with the kids after camp. The kids were hooked after the first round and so was I. As a group the kids and I talked and we concluded that we’d need a few courses — one for adults, one for kids and something in between. I reached out and one local principal responded and a very supportive school district provided the guidance needed for my first foray into disc golf course design and development.
Since then I have designed and built a number of disc golf courses in the NorCal/Southern Oregon region, run tournaments, provided disc golf lessons/clinics and equipment to community and schools, even provided Disc Golf Yoga classes at the college.
With the help and support of disc golf enthusiasts in the community I was able to broaden my understanding and appreciation of this strange and wonderful pastime. Thank you Tedd Ward for introducing me to the game, Mark Scatchard for taking me to my first course (Cooper’s Gulch in Eureka), Paige Swan for having faith in my design for the Joe Hamilton course, Blane Dodson for taking me (resistant and whining) to my first tournament at Lake Selmac, Sue Currie for helping me win many tournaments by making her guest room in Grants Pass available, Dan Weatherspoon for getting Wild Rivers Disc Golf Club on the net, Scotty Withers for making me aware of my potential and and Kris and Tom Griffin who’ve provided floor space for discs at Griffin’s Furniture Outlet for the past decade, and the list goes on.
I have never experienced a sport whose participants were so generous with their equipment, time and space. Of particular satisfaction to me is watching men and women who would normally be addicted to electronics play many afternoons at Beachfront Park when it’s not raining... and many times when it is.
I believe that the camp and art programs provide amazing experiences in self awareness development but it’s the disc golf program which is the most accessible and affordable and I believe has had the greatest cumulative impact. The last disc golf census at Beachfront Park was done in 2015. At the time the course was used 200 times a week. I can only assume that since then usage has increased.
My reason for being on the earth seems to center around being an educator in the outdoors. And of the different things I do, disc golf is nearest my heart. It combines my love of nature and survival with my love of competitive sports. Yet as a teacher and promoter of the sport I still lack experience and knowledge at its highest levels. It’s important to me to speak and teach from experience and the Masters World Tournament would be my greatest experience yet in this realm. It would mean a lot to have a shot at the top and be able to bring those experiences back to my campers and the community of Del Norte County.
I’m hoping you will visit https://www.gofundme.com/send-ron-to-2019-masters-world-tournament and support my bid for the championships in Vermont. The site will run April 24 to May 20.
To get this invitation I had to accumulate enough “win points” at various PDGA tournaments to be listed as a contender for the championships in 2019.
Only a 1000 people in the entire world are invited to participate. Thankfully, summer camp and pastels in the park are managed by competent help to a degree I can pursue what is considered one of the largest and most prestigious events in disc golf. Thank you for letting me share my story and with your help a follow up can be expected.