The History of Disc Golf A.K.A. Frisbee Golf or Frolf
Disc Golf, which is also know by the names of frisbee golf and frolf, has many beginnings in a way, due to many different occurrences of it being played well before it became an established sport. For instance in Bladworth, Saskatchewan in 1926 a group of kids played what they called “tin lid golf.” The kids had played this game fairly often and even had a makeshift course around the school grounds. However as the kids grew older and started playing the more notable sports the “tin lid golf” slowly fizzled out of existence. Similar games had also been heard of being played throughout the years of 1930-1960. A big commercial attempt by Copar Plastics in 1960 tried to sell a game called sky croquette, which also had instructions on how to play “sky golf.” This, however was a failed attempt due to the fact that the “frisbee” was not yet a popular enough activity.
Later in 1968 George Sappenfield, who was the parks and recreational supervisor for the city of Thousand Oaks, California thought it would be a good idea to hold a frisbee golf contest for a recreational program. He contacted Wham-O MFG Company and asked for some help to sponsor the event. Wham-O did help, they sent frisbees and also hoola hoops to use for targets. The following year George managed to convince Ed Headrick of Wham-O into including a Frisbee golf event in the big All Comers Frisbee Meet that Wham-O was planning to hold at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl fields as a promotional event. Then the existence of frisbee golf seemed to almost disappear….
In August of 1970 a small group of people from Rochester, New York started to play disc golf as a competitive sport. They played disc golf on a regular basis including weekly league play and even began holding tournaments. By 1973 the group of competitive disc golfers had successfully held two City of Rochester Disc Frisbee Championship events, in which Disc Golf was the main event. In 1974 the group had heard that there were other competitive disc golfers all throughout the United States. After hearing this the group wanted to see just how many other disc golfers there were out there. This prompted the group to make the City of Rochester Disc Golf Championship into a national event and renamed the event, The American Flying Disc Open. In order to attract the attention of as many disc/frisbee golfers as they could they announced the winner of the competition would win a brand new 1974 car! After the word began to spread about the competition the disc golf community began to flourish with many new competitors.
Ed Headrick of Wham-O seen this wildfire growth in the disc golf community as an opportunity. So in 1975 he hired the winner of the 1974 American Flying Disc Open, Dan Roddick, to be the director of a new Sports Promotion Department at Wham-O. After getting some feedback from the small but quickly growing disc golf community Dan and Ed decided to add a disc golf event to Wham-O’s World Frisbee Championship, which was an overwhelming success! Due to this success and the feedback of the competitors at the event Ed have decided that disc golf could turn into something BIG!
In 1976 Ed resigned from his position at Wham-O to create his own business, the Disc Golf Association. Meanwhile the director of the sports promotion department at Wham-O, Dan Roddick, was able to incorporate the disc golf event in the national tour of qualifying tournaments for the big World Frisbee Championship event which was hosted annually by Wham-O. This move introduced the concept of disc golf to thousands of Frisbee players all at once, causing even more people to begin playing the game. Which in turn opened up a big market for Ed Headrick’s company Disc Golf Association to begin installing disc golf courses all around the country. Soon every neighboring city to one that had a course installed by Disc Golf Association began calling and wanting to buy a disc golf course from Ed.
Many disc golf competitors shared a dream, national tournaments and organized play. So they got together along with Ed Headrick and formed the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) to oversee and organize the rapidly growing sport. The sport has grown so fast that now the PDGA is now a worldwide phenomenon and is yet continuing to grow at an incredible rate!