Here is the story:
by - TAZ
I started Disc Golf back in 83 when I was in High School, but had to quit due to a stint in the military (no pole holes on aircraft carriers) and then came back to the game in the early 90's and fell in love with it. Actually, obsessed is a better word. I began devouring anything and everything I could find relating to Disc Golf. I read the Disc Golf Journal like a lawyer studying for the bar, learning the big names and decided that I wanted to make an impact, too!
Thinking about that, I soon realized that this was not going to be accomplished through my playing. I am not one of those gifted with natural athletic ability and although in my career I improved to a certain level of competence, I knew early on I was never going to be great. No, I was going to have to utilize a different talent if I wanted to contribute anything at all.
I had noticed that Disc Golf lacked exposure. The only place you really heard anything about it as a professional sport was in the Journal or if you happened to go to a Major Tournament. The coolness factor of the sport was so obvious that I was in disbelief at it's smallness. Why not a Disc Golf Channel or ESPN Show? People were playing in organized tournaments all over the world, networking, sharing hotels, and thousands, maybe even millions of dollars were out there to be had and yet no major company had really taken any notice. Baffling.
So I decided right then and there that I wanted to write a book. What better way to get the word out to those who had never heard of this amazing sport? But I wanted golfers to enjoy the book, too, so I knew it had to be entertaining as well as educational. A tall order to be sure, but I was enthusiastic about it. I didn't even care if it made money. I just wanted to write it!
Right away, though, I realized that if I was serious about the project I needed to go to Florida, specifically, Clearwater; the home of Ken Climo, the best disc golfer on the planet, and in my opinion he still is the best. I don't care what the statistics say. I have never seen anyone who can change the mood of a tournament in the way he can by just participating. He forces everyone to elevate their existence by his mere presence, and as soon as they see him most golfers know they are going to be competing for second place.
In my mind, Ken was the guy that should be putting the sport on the map. His dominance was unprecedented and his personal story was made for advertising. In fact, I couldn't see how they had missed him. With the proper spin and some dollars, the world of Disc Golf could be transformed almost overnight. I set out to do my part.
What happened next was unbelievable, like something out of Aladdin, where the stars line up for you and put everything into a perfect place for you to realize a dream. At that time I was a salesman for Sears. One day I was reading an advertisement at work about a new software company in (you guessed it) Clearwater, Florida, and I called to find out more about them and this opened up a continuing dialogue which ended up with my receiving a job offer. I even found a place to stay while I looked for a home. It was perfect.
My bags had not even been unloaded from my car when I got to Clearwater and I was looking for Cliff Stephens Park. One of the things that surprised me right away when I got there were the signs telling me to beware of Alligators. I don't like alligators. I stepped up to the first tee and looked for the basket, didn't see it right away, so I looked at the sign for guidance and it showed me the general direction. I squinted. Surely it could not be that little shiny thing way out there between the trees and the gator infested water? I looked at the sign again. It said 500 and some odd feet for distance. Holy Cow!
According to the sign I was standing on the professional tee, but there was also picture location of the amateur tee so I walked over and checked it out. It was still something like 300 feet to the basket. Amateur? I was looking at a brutal par three, especially with it's left to right "anyhzer" approach, and not a sharp turning one either, but a long slow fade of the kind that most golfers spend their lives trying to develop - and this was the amateur tee! Unbelievable.
So I walked back over to the pro tee and began my first round at Cliff Stephens. I was thankful by the end of it that no one else was around. It was a humbling experience. The holes were twice and sometimes even three times as long as the ones I had played in California, and technical beyond belief. Every hole required you to pull out a different kind of shot. The course was designed in such a way as to punish golfers who lacked a versatile game. I stopped keeping any kind of score about the fourth shot on hole one. But, as rough as it was, it was also an exhilarating experience because I knew was right where I needed to be in order to write the book, and soon, I was sure that I would be in the company of the people who would help me put it all together!
next segment - "Introductions"