A History Of Disc Golf – v1.4
From what we can tell…
Discus throwing becomes one of the Pentathlon events at the Greek Olympics. The winner of the event received the Discus.
William Russell Frisbie is born in Wallingford, Conn.
H.H. Olds hires William R. Frisbie to help sell his pies in Bridgeport, Conn.
The W.R. Fribie Pie Bakery is founded in Bridgeport, Conn., as Frisbie takes over Old’s business and established routes.
Charles Schwartz of Brooklyn, N.Y., applies for a U.S. patent for his “Spinning Toy,” (#476,825). This invention could be thrown from one person to another. However, no samples of this device have been found.
Upon the death of his father, Joseph P. Frisbie becomes president of W.R. Frisbie bakery, and expands it from production of a few hundred pies a day into an enterprise with routes across much of New England. This sets the stage for “Frisbie” to become a widely known term that will lends its name to a developing pastime.
The W.R. Frisbie pie bakery is now called The Frisbie Pie Co. and becomes a Connecticut corporation.
The Frisbie Pie Company starts to use the “Frisbie’s Pies” logo on its products and in advertising.
Yale is credited as starting the Frisbieing craze. This could have been a public relations ploy by WhamO to associate its Pluto Platter Flying Saucer with higher learning or, possibly to steer people away from Princeton University’s claim of first use.
Ten-year-old Tex Robertson and neighborhood friends in Sweetwater, Texas, are playing flying disc games with metal can covers.
Edward Early Headrick was born on June 28, 1924 and grew up in Pasadena, California. He was the father of 3 boys , 1 girl and all Disc Sports.
Classmates at Bladworth Elementary School in Bladworth, Saskatchewan, are playing an informal game on a prescribed course that they call Tin Lid Golf. They are modifying the metal can cover so that it can be more easily thrown for distance with a backhanded motion. The first known instance of anyone playing golf with a flying disc occurred in Vancouver, BC Canada in 1926. A group of school age kids played a game with tin lids, which they dubbed Tin Lid Golf. They played on a fairly regular basis on a disc golf course they laid out on their school grounds.
At Princeton University, Albert Einstein stops to admire a disc throw-and-catch game conducted with a round metal can cover. He is quoted as saying, “Very beautiful!”
The origins of the Frisbee goes back to a bakery named the Frisbie Pie Company of New Haven, Connecticut, established by William Russell Frisbie. Before the bakery closed operations in 1958, the tossing of the company’s pie tins by college students at Yale and Dartmouth led to Frisbie becoming a well known term for flying disc play in the Northeast. In 1949, California inventor Walter F. (Fred) Morrison realizes that plastics technology could be used to make a disc-shaped flying toy. That year, the first flying disc produced with his partner Warren Franscioni, the Pipco (short for Partners In Plastic Company) Flyin-Saucer, hit the market.
Walter (Fred) Morrison makes a drawing of the first plastic disc design that he called the “Whirlo Way.” Morrison’s disc design went on to become the 1948 Flyin Saucer.
On the east coast, Bill Robs markets the Space Saucer in college campus bookstores. In 1954, the first “Frisbie Match” was held at Dartmouth College. Morrison then improves his invention with a second disc, the Pluto Platter, with the now famous phrase “PLAY CATCH – INVENT GAMES” engraved on the back. Disc golf was one of those invented games! By 1954, a tournament for another new disc game called Guts is held at Dartmouth University.
Wham-O became interested in this flying disc in 1955 and about a year later began marketing the Pluto Platter after acquiring the rights from Morrison. In July 1957, the name was changed to “Wham-O Frisbee.” after the company heard about the pie tin game on the east coast called Frisbie-ing. In 1958, the first International Frisbee Tournament was held in Eagle Harbor, Michigan.
Wham-O applies for a trademark on the word “Frisbee.” The application is filed on July 28, 1958. (First use, June 17, 1957; in commerce, July 8, 1957).
May 26, 1959:
Frisbee receives Registered Trademark No. 679186.
Copar Company of Chicago markets a disc called the Sky Saucer that included a rulebook for the game of “Sky Golf” (looks more like Frisbee croquet).
Wham-O introduces the “Official Pro Model” to be used for all disc sports, including disc golf.
Modern Frisbee patent applied for based on design by “Steady” Ed Headrick of Wham-O, who would later become known as the “Father of Disc Golf”.
Ed Headrick starts International Frisbee Association (IFA) and establishes standards for various disc sports such as Distance, Freestyle and Guts.
The U.S. Navy spends nearly $400,000 on unsuccessful tests of many flying discs to keep flares aloft for longer periods of time. The first game of Ultimate Frisbee, a disc sport similar to football, was played in 1968 at a New Jersey high school. This disc sport is now played at over 600 colleges in 32 nations.
The first official disc golf tournament was held at Brookside Park in Pasadena, California. The goals were natural objects marked with a ribbon. Later, George Sappenfield organized several Frisbee golf events in Southern California. Disc enthusiasts introduce the concept of disc golf to other parts of the country. “Object Courses” using anything from lamp poles to fire hydrants as targets begin to crop up in the Midwest and East Coast.
The Berkeley Frisbee Group (BFG) establishes a standardized 18-hole Frisbee golf course on the campus of U.C. Berkeley. Players use man-made and natural objects as targets. Berkeley is gaining a reputation as the “Mecca of Frisbee.”
The first “Frisbee Club” is formed in Rochester, New York and disc golf is played on a regular basis.
Bill Schneider is teaching the first accredited Frisbee course at Sacramento State University in California.
Rochester, New York becomes the first municipality in the world to hold an Annual City Disc Golf Championship.
Flying Disc World becomes the first magazine for disc sports. Dan Roddick wins a brand new 1974 Datsun B-210 at the disc golf portion of the American Flying Disc Open in Rochester, New York. The modern era of disc golf competition begins.
Jim Palmeri and his brother John open the first Frisbee retail store called “The Flying Disc and Chess Shop” in Rochester, N.Y.
Oak Grove Disc Golf Course located within Hahamonga Watershed Park in Pasadena, California becomes the world’s first permanent disc golf course. It was an instant success. Later that year, Wham-O introduces the World Class 119G disc, a marked improvement for discs in competitive sports.
Ed Headrick organizes the Disc Golf Association (DGA).
“Steady Ed” Headrick and his son Ken invent and patent a standardized Frisbee catcher called a “Disc Pole Hole.” In 1975, they install the first permanent disc golf course at Oak Grove Park in La Canada, Calif. During its first year of operation, nearly 5,000 people play disc golf during a given week. “Steady Ed” markets the first line of golf discs, the “Night Flyer.” The game was formalized when Headrick invented the first Disc Pole Hole™ catching device, consisting of 10 chains hanging in a parabolic shape over an upward opening basket, (US Patent 4,039,189, issued 1975).
The first PDGA tournaments are held in Mobile, AL and Northern New Jersey. The modern era of disc golf competition begins.
UCI is where the Whamo World Overall Championships were held from 1978-1981. The Winner of the disc golf portion of this overall tourney was recognized as the World Champion
Wham-O and the Disc Golf Association sponsor the $50,000 Frisbee Disc Golf Tournament at Huntington Beach, Calif. In sudden death, Tom Kennedy wins the event over John Connolly.
The first Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) World Championships are held in L.A. at La Mirada, Sylmar, Oak Grove, and Huntington Beach, CA. Harold Duvall is the winner.
Innova Champion Disc Golf markets the first beveled edge golf disc, the Eagle. The beveled edge allows for far greater throwing distances than had been possible, radically changing the game of disc golf.
PDGA Champion – Open 1983 Huntsville AL Jeff Watson FL 1406 5 120
Dave Dunipace, past World Distance and Disc Golf Champion, invents and patents the triangle-rimmed disc. This innovation brings the advantage of distance with accuracy to the games of amateurs and professionals alike. As a result, courses begin to get longer and more challenging; the excitement grows.
Disc Golf World News begins publication. This is the first magazine for Disc Golf. The same year, the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) is established to promote disc golf and Ultimate Frisbee events worldwide.
Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., awards the first bachelor’s degree in Frisbee to John Dwork.
PDGA Champion – Open 1984 Rochester NY Sam Ferrans CA 2872 5 141
The World Flying Disc Federation organizes the first “World Championships” held outside of the United States, in Helsingborg, Sweden. Players from 21 countries attend. Around the world, players continue to lobby parks departments and college campuses for more disc golf courses. By the end of the decade, permanent disc golf courses are installed in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan.
PDGA Champion – Open 1985 Tulsa OK Harold Duvall CA 2018 $2,000 2 200
Allen Risley produces the firstis published
PDGA Champion – Open 1986 Charlotte NC Johnny Sias WV 1700 $1,090 7 166
Disc Golf World News (later shortened to Disc Golf World), the longest running magazine in the history of disc sports, began publishing in March of 1987. The last issue came out in January of 2008. All told, there were 84 issues.
PDGA Champion – Open 1987 Toronto ON Gregg Hosfeld GA 1602 $2,500 Playoff 143
Snapper Pierson is the first player to win the Master overall and the WFDF (open overall) world championships in the same year.
PDGA Champion – Open 1988 Cincinnati OH John Ahart CA 3455 $3,500 2 209
PDGA Champion – Open 1989 Waterloo IA Steve Wisecup OH 1467 $2,000 3 158
Ultimate is shown as an exhibition sport during the World Games in Karlsruhe, West Germany. This year also marks the first World Club Ultimate Championship, in Cologne, West Germany.
PDGA Champion – Open 1990 Phoenix AZ Ken Climo FL 4297 $2,042 1 180
PDGA Champion – Open 1991 Dayton OH Ken Climo FL 4297 $2,700 10 160
World’s Biggest Disc Golf Meet features over 12,000 players participating on 200 courses around the world on the same day.
PDGA Champion – Open 1992 Detroit MI Ken Climo FL 4297 $3,500 9 164
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports accepts flying disc sports as a new category for Presidential Sports Award.
Lavonne Wolfe establishes the PDGA Hall of Fame. The PDGA begins to chronicle the history of disc golf.
PDGA Champion – Open 1993 Huntsville AL Ken Climo FL 4297 $2,539 4 136
PDGA Champion – Open 1994 Port Arthur TX Ken Climo FL 4297 $2,500 18 151
Scott Stockley becomes the first person to break the 200-meter distance barrier in competition. (World Record toss of 200.1 meters.)
PDGA Champion – Open 1995 Port Arthur TX Ken Climo FL 4297 $2,350 4 114
PDGA Champion – Open 1996 South Bend IN Ken Climo FL 4297 $3,600 3 160
PDGA Champion – Open 1997 Charlotte NC Ken Climo FL 4297 $3,000 7 164
PDGA Champion – Open 1998 Cincinnati OH Ken Climo FL 4297 $3,581 4 179
PDGA Champion – Open 1999 Rochester NY Ron Russell MI 9999 $4,000 4 173
USDGC Champion – 1999 Ken Climo, Florida – Total Score: 204; Won by 15
PDGA Champion – Open 2000 Ann Arbor MI Ken Climo FL 4297 $7,303 8 238
USDGC Champion – 2000 – Ken Climo, Florida – Total Score: ; Won by 5
The number of permanent disc golf courses in the United States surpasses 1,000.
Disc golf becomes a featured event and Ultimate becomes a medal sport at the World Games in Akita, Japan.
PDGA Champion – Open 2001 St Paul MN Cameron Todd SC 12827 $3,065 6 201
USDGC Champion 2001 – Barry Schultz, Wisconsin – Total Score: 245; Won by 1
Christian Sandstrom sets world distance record of 820 feet. Christian shattered the distance record April 26, 2002 at “Big D in the Desert”. His record throw of 250 meters (820 feet) was made with a DX Valkyrie. Former team member Ken Jarvis was first to break the record with a throw of 247 meters. Ken’s record lasted a mere 45 minutes! The previous record of 217.05m (712 feet) had been set by Chris Voigt of Germany.
Ken Climo wins his 11th PDGA World Disc Golf Championships, extending his record.
USDGC Champion 2002 – Ken Climo, Florida – Total Score: 237; Won by 7
Steady” Ed Headrick, suffered two strokes while attending the 2002 Professional Disc Golf Association Amateur World Championships in Miami. He died in his sleep, August 12, 2002, at his home in La Selva Beach. He was 78. As per his wishes, his ashes were incorporated into a limited number of discs. The discs were given to friends and family and the limited remaining discs will be sold with all proceeds from the sales going to a nonprofit fund for the “Steady” Ed Memorial Disc Golf Museum at the PDGA International Disc Golf Center in Columbia County, Georgia.
PDGA Champion – Open 2003 Flagstaff AZ Barry Schultz WI 6840 $5,000 6 150
USDGC Champion 2003 – Barry Schultz, Wisconsin – Total Score: 243; Won in Playoff
PDGA Champion – Open 2004 Des Moines IA Barry Schultz WI 6840 $5,300 9 154
USDGC Champion 2004 – Ken Climo, Florida – Total Score: 255; Won by 5
With 250+ disc golf courses built this year, the number of permanent disc golf courses in the United States reaches 2,000!
PDGA Champion – Open 2005 Lehigh Valley PA Nate Doss CA 11794 $5,000 3 130
USDGC Champion 2005 – Dave Feldberg, Oregon – Total Score: 244; Won by 2
Ken Climo of Clearwater, Florida becomes a 12-time World Champion, establishing a new record that will probably never be broken. The book Flat Flip Flies Straight – True origins of the Frisbee is published by Fred Morrison and Phil Kennedy.
PDGA Champion Open 2006 Augusta GA Ken Climo FL 4297 $5,500 5 125
USDGC Champion 2006 – Barry Schultz, Wisconsin – Total Score: 236; Won by 11
Wham-O celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Frisbee by reissuing the original Pluto Platter in gold and other flying discs. The 50th Anniversary 3 disc boxed set, including a replica of original 1957 patent for the Original Frisbee, is a popular Holiday gift.
May 2 – Dave Felberg appears on Conan O’Brien – video
Decemner 18, 2007 – Terry Calhoun starts the Disc Golfers R Us (DGRUS) social network
PDGA Champion – Open 2007 Highbridge WI Nate Doss CA 11794 $5,500 1 142
USDGC Champion 2007 – Ken Climo, Florida – Total Score: 233; Won by 11
Ben Calhoun and Greg Hosfeld share a round on what makes the 1,000th different disc golf course that both of them have played. Earlier in the year, Wham-O releases a 60th Anniversary 3 Frisbee boxed set with a limited edition glow in the dark version of the original Pluto Platter.
PDGA Champion – Open 2008 Kalamazoo MI David Feldberg OR 12626 $6,000 14 145
USDGC Champion 2008 – Nate Doss, California – Total: 236; Won by 4
Inductees Lynne Warren Crazy John Brooks Michael Sullivan
Tigers Woods golf for the Nintendo Wii adds disc golf to the game
8/13/09 Tim Selinske passed away. Tim was one of the four founding partners of INNOVA-Champion Discs and served as the company General Manager and spokesman. Tim was a tireless promoter of disc sports in general and Disc Golf in particular.
PDGA Champion Open 2009 Kansas City MO Avery Jenkins OR 7495 $5,500
USDGC Champion Nikko Locastro overtook veteran Dave Feldberg and claimed the United States Disc Golf Championship with (-34).
10/14/2009 3,000th disc golf course installed!
1.3 – added USDGC Champions
1.4 – Snapper Pierson’s additions / changes
Please feel free to add to this history by sending us a link or reference to more information.