From the Founding President of the DDG
I lived in Delaware all my life and never heard of disc golf until I went to San Diego, CA. There I played Morley Field and met Snapper Pierson. I bought 12 newly released Aeros with the Morley Field stamp and brought them back to DE.
I met Rich Hughes at Lums Pond State Park. He was selling midnight fliers as golf discs and running mini disc golf tournaments for the State Parks. We became fast friends around our mutually found new best interest… Disc Golf.
Rich and I formed the Delaware Disc Golfers in 1983 with myself as President and he as Treasurer. At that time there were six 9 hole disc golf courses in Delaware State Parks. Lums Pond, Brandywine Creek, Bellevue, White Clay Creek (Carpenter), Cape Henlopen, and Killen’s Pond. I saved Killen’s for last because that was the original 18 or some say 27 hole course in DE. I don’t know which course was first but all the others were only 9 holes. The course at Killen’s didn’t work out so they dismantled it and sent 9 baskets to White Clay and kept 9 at Killen’s in a shed. Later they went in the ground haphazardly in a 9 hole course that actually was a lot of fun.
Rich and I started a club and ran 1 round events and built the club gaining members and started a newsletter and Rich came up with the idea of a tag challenge which I think it was the first in the country. We found our way to Sedgley Woods, the second disc golf course ever installed by Ed Headrick. Ed invented and patented the pole hole back in 1975 or 1976. At Sedgley Woods we met Jim Powers, Darby Willaby(sp), Dale Crawford, Paul Fine and a host of other historically legendary disc golfers. We learned a lot from them about clubs, newsletters and running events.
Rich’s dream was to convert all the 9 hole courses in DE to 18 holes and we began that work in 1985 starting with Brandywine Creek. Ed Headrick himself came out and gave training on course design and walked us through the course giving us recommendations on course flow and land use. We finished the course in 1986. We were hooked and in with the State who shared our vision by helping financially and with labor.
We completed Lums Pond in 1988 and held the first Breeze and Treeze that year. During that tournament we achieved the highest SSA ratings in the country. Brandywine and Lums were dubbed the hardest tournament played courses in the country that year and the next. Just to say we were at the front of the course development curve!
Time marched on as it does. We began upgrading baskets for the courses which the State Parks paid half and the DDG paid the other half. We then took the old baskets and converted the other 9 hole courses starting with Killen’s Pond next, Cape Henlopen, White Clay Creek then Bellevue. During this time our club grew, our tournament schedule grew and so did the size and reputation of Delaware PDGA tournaments. As Rich moved on, I met Jimi McIlvain who signed on as Treasurer and became a mentor on how to run the club and pay outs for tournaments which made DDG even greater than it already was. Thanks Jimi.
We constructed our first ground up 18 hole disc golf course at Trap Pond in 2003. We decided to build a “super course” with multiple tees and pins. It turned out to be a great course and opened up a whole new genre of disc golf course for DE and the rest of the US. Many new huge and challenging courses were popping up all over the country. To this day Trap is probably Delaware Disc Golf’s best kept secret and I recommend playing it to anyone. Just bring you’re A Game!
Now we were ready to do something really special and it fell into our laps in 2007, when the County asked us to design and install a course. Iron Hill County Park had previously been closed for over a year for refurbishing. The club, along with the County and John Spence designed and built Iron Hill disc golf course. 18 holes of the most magical and torturous disc golf on the planet. Over 10,000 feet and counting in length with multiple tees and baskets making Iron Hill Disc Golf Course the gem of the DDG.
Soon thereafter with the success of Iron Hill we were offered to install 18 holes at Carousel Park. Mainly because of the land we ended up building another monster course that is an amazing thing to play. A beautiful piece of land that was donated by the DuPont family to the County. Rolling fields with old growth woods and we took full advantage of it.
As President, with a bit of experience at running tournaments and designing courses, I knew Delaware needed a short course. I started working with the city of Wilmington to get a course started at Canby West. In 2012 that course is in the ground and being played as a short fun course for beginners and pros to have a great time.
In clubs people come and they go. They bring a new set of eyes, ideas and blood. I was president for 28 years and finally ran out of ideas and blood. It is said if you build something well you can walk away and it will live on. In 2011 the DDG elected Mike Tolbert as President of the Delaware Disc Golfers. Mike is the greatest thing that could happen to the club and between him and all the other new great people involved the DDG will continue to grow and be a Mecca for disc golf.
It’s been great,