“Help change the world, teach a kid to putt”

“Help change the world, teach a kid to putt” ~ promotional statement from E.D.G.E. (Educational Disc Golf Experience)

Sometimes you can never say it better if someone has already said it perfect the first time. This statement from E.D.G.E. epitomizes many things about disc golf and why I love our sport.

As an avid promoter of disc golf and player when I get the chance (no one ever gets to truly play enough), I am always looking for opportunities to help the community, grow our sport, and help others like kids learn about the fun that our sport holds.

As a board member of the Austin, Texas Waterloo Disc Golf Club I recently took on a project that would help qualify that statement from E.D.G.E. and I hope it will change the world, by teaching kids to putt; one kid at a time.

On November 20, 2014 a disc golf basket was installed at the Austin Children’s Shelter (aka Austin Children’s Services) and it’s my hope that their lives will be forever brightened from it.

ACS

The concept and idea all spurred from a conversation and an observation with fellow disc golfers; Gordon Maxim-Kelley (President of Waterloo) and Mike Olse (Vibram Discs Team Member).

In a happenstance chance of fate, Mike had learned that the Austin Children’s Shelter (ACS) new location in East Austin had many outdoor amenities at their location, but they were for kids of young ages. The facility had playgrounds for toddlers and elementary school aged children, but nothing notable for pre-teens or older kids to do. With this observation, it struck upon him: Why not install a disc golf basket? This could provide kids and staff that extra benefit of an activity to keep them busy and relieve any stresses from the day. It would be perfect!

This was a great observation, my sympathy for their needs, and the mission focus of the Waterloo Disc Golf Club was willing to help.

To understand the deeper need that this basket could provide, you must know the purpose of the Austin Children’s Shelter.

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ACS front desk with custom art of their logo donated by Austin based disc golfer Joseph “JoJo” Thompson.

 

Their mission is that Austin Children’s Services protects and heals children, young adults and families in need. [ACS mission statement quote]

With an amazing ability like that, there is always a need to de-stress and relax from the worries of the day; for the children, for the families, and for the staff at the facility.

Within a small amount of time I contacted the ACS and developed a working relationship with their community relations coordinator, Lindsay Contreras.
This was the first time that they had ever worked with a project like this, so it was “different” for them, but nothing they were not willing to work with.
Lindsay was an overall great steward for the project by getting the internal agreements and support, appointments with the maintenance/grounds persons, and answering many of the questions a project like this entails. Her support and trust was invaluable.

Simultaneously as I coordinated the activity at the ACS, I worked with Gordon and Mike as they worked their own resources and tapped into their personal experiences to help gather the needed supplies, contacts, and materials to keep the project moving.
This may be a single basket installation, but its priority was high for us and the location was “sensitive” in nature. We simply could not just show up to work on it like at a public park.
To protect the children’s environment, and respect the security of the location, we needed to coordinate visits/work and do our best to not interrupt the staff’s limited availability and schedules.

Not to be thwarted by such protocols, we continued forward and worked in a timely manner over a few months to get the site surveyed, verified, prepped, setup, and the basket installed.

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(wet from the rain) Custom marble Waterloo dedication marker handmade by Austin disc golfer Joseph “JoJo” Thompson.

 

The tasks needed for this “simple” project were:
– locate a basket and coordinate any needed repairs
– utilize Eco-friendly techniques for the installation (heavy duty sprinkler collar/cover,
base padding, mulch, etc.) so that if the basket needs to be removed for any reason the
basket mount will be safe from causing possible injuries
– provide an Innova DISCatcher Traveler basket that could be used during inclement
weather or indoor play times
– locate an artist to create a dedication marker for the site
– collect about 50 new lightweight putters for donation

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Completed basket installation with 4ft dense pad (all covered in mulch) under it to protect the ground from dig-outs and an industrial sprinkler collar w/cover.

In the end, we were able to complete all of the items off of the list and exceed the needs for the installation. All items were fulfilled from the great Austin, TX disc golf community. Deep in the heart of Texas our disc golf hearts are bigger; everything in Texas is bigger!

For the basket, people pitched in to transport it back and forth, clean it up, fix welds and brackets on it, and ensure the locking collars were perfect.
For the base location we were able to utilize a heavy duty sprinkler housing with lid that would allow it to be safely covered if the basket is removed. This prevents sprained ankles, etc. Around the base we used a durable thick porous padding to protect the soil from “dig outs.” It will last many years as people step on it and pivot to retrieve their discs without digging out the ground.
For the traveler basket it was donated from the Waterloo Disc Golf Club inventory
For the marker a great local disc golfer, Joseph “JoJo” Thompson, stepped up and offered his skills and materials
For the putters, container, and other supplies many disc golfers, disc golf and sports equipment businesses donated greatly.

When it came to the day of installation, it was overcast and rainy, but the area was filled with bright smiles when the kids learned what we were doing and when we placed the basket in the ground.

Soon thereafter, the container of discs was opened and the kids instinctively knew what they were for.
They immediately started throwing the discs to each other. The kids were happy and excited, then one curiously exclaimed “Are these are for us?
I replied (along with some others) “Yes and you can keep them.
Awesome! We can KEEP them!” resounded with more laughs and smiles from the kids, the disc golf volunteers, and the ACS staffers.

With all of the discs and fun flying around, the great epiphany of the day occurred when we stepped into the fun fray of flying plastic and showed them “how” to use them with the basket that we just installed.  [silence and watchful eyes focused on us]

A few of us stepped up, threw a few putts into the chains to show them how the basket stops the discs, explained the concept, and marked the ground for them to give it a try…

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Larger view of the basket installation with fresh mulch near the playground

 

Then, at that moment, a second level of amazement was instantly achieved. We opened a whole new world to them. We couldn’t do anything but smile big and experience the raw joy of kids playing and having fun.
This was something they have NEVER experienced and us few that were there, we saw it all in its entirety.
Soon there after, the sounds of ringing chains permeated the air accompanied by the phrase “Did you see that?! …I MADE IT!“  [Yes, I did see that (smiling)]

There are not many times in your life that you get to experience a raw unfiltered moment of joy with kids, I think as adults we forget this, but on this day we all saw it. It was like a Christmas morning for everyone.

Looking back on this day, I really do hope that we change the world from teaching these kids to putt. With the trials and tribulations that some of these kids and families go through, they need the joy of play in their life.

We will never know what led them to need the services of the Austin Children’s Shelter, but they deserve a little play time, they deserve a little disc golf, and they do deserve to change their own world one putt at a time.

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It was raining and wet, but smiles all around. A few of those that helped. [LtoR: Troy Herman, Joseph Thompson, Gordon Kelley, Steveo Barnes, Glenn Schleicher, Lindsay Contrearas]

May the sound of chains from disc golf baskets ring throughout their life and may those sounds always remind them of the joy they felt on that day and every other time they played disc golf.

Play It Forward

DiscTroy

 

Thanks are well deserved.

This installation will last for many years to come, but NONE of this could have been possible without the disc golf community and the kind staff at the Austin Children’s Shelter.

Thanks for this project go to…
For the wide variety of the 50 putters that the ACS was given for the kids, they were donated by the Waterloo Disc Golf Club, local disc golf and sports equipment businesses (Disc Nation and Play it Again Sports) as well as several club members (Troy Herman, Rich Harpel, and Bert Lirette).
The custom dedication stone was engraved by hand by local disc golfer Joseph “JoJo” Thompson. The Waterloo Disc Golf Club purchased the materials and tools while “JoJo” donated all of his time, his energy, and his great artistic skill.
Others who have contributed greatly to the project are Mike Olse, Dale Gibbins, Damon Neth, Jeremy Grange, Phil Haik, and Gordon Maxim-Kelley.

 **Special Note** Usually I include links to pictures or pictures from the event, but that was not done for this post. Due to safety and privacy concerns none of the children or staff (other than Lindsay) were documented or photographed. We wish them all the best and I hope to meet some of those kids one day and learn that they got their first disc golf experience from the work we put in. That would be awesome. ~~Troy

 

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37th Annual Waterloo Disc Golf Classic – Pictures on Flickr

During the weekend of October 18th and October 19th, 2014 the Waterloo Disc Golf Club held their annual disc golf classic benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas raising thousands of dollars.

I spent endless hours on the course as a Staff member of the event and Board member of the club.. here are the pictures I was able to capture.

I have also uploaded all the pictures from the 37th Annual Waterloo Disc Golf Classic on the Waterloo FB page.

Many made the cut and edits, some did not. If you were not included, I apologize, but some were poor quality, bad timing, questionable/unbecoming, I may have just missed you out of 180 players and two courses. Please enjoy responsibly and thank you for letting me capture the moments. [remember to read my copyright notes] Thanks. https://www.flickr.com/photos/troyherman/sets

Thank you for all of the support. Remember to always PLAY IT FORWARD.

DiscTroy

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Why Do YOU Play The Game?

Here in Central Texas we have everything that is larger than life (it seems) and it’s just a Texas tradition that is in our core values and spirit.

SoBigTexasGreetings

Most recently world famous actor Matthew McConaughey and Austin, TX favorite stopped in to visit his alumni at the University of Texas football training facilities to speak to them about their motivation by simply commenting on “Why do you play the game?”

[Video Here]

With that simple question, we all have our own answers. Your first response may be generic, “It’s because I love disc golf.”
Your other response may be more specific, for instance mine is, “It allows me moments of solo relaxation while testing my mental and physical skills to keep improving.” [back story: Disc Golf helped me as a Disabled Veteran, get back out there, to rehab and have fun again]
Whatever your answer is, disc golf is a sport that brings out our own personal answers to this question every time we play.

So the question still remains the same and I ask you, “Why do you play the game?”

The answer may be deep and it may be personal, but at the end of the day it changes everything about yourself. You grow, you develop, you push yourself, and you know that great feeling that it brings with it.

Let disc golf drive yourself like you throw your disc. Let it bring you far down the fairway, make some holes-in-one, and allow you to enjoy the time you get to play it.
Spend some time and listen to Matthew’s question of inspiration and then give it a deep thought that will inspire you when you need it.

“I’ve found that I have done my best work… (only) when I have pushed myself farther than I think I could be..” ~Matthew McConaughey

DiscTroy

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Dynamic Discs Helps You Follow Your Discs For An Amazing “Experience”

Disc golf can take you many places and you can follow your disc where ever it may go. The sport of disc golf can take you to parks and places you may never have seen even in your own neighborhood, town, or city. Disc golf can even take you on a journey around the world where you can’t speak the language, but through the ability to throw a disc, it simply translates everything you need without hesitation.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it can take you to phenomenal places of engineering achievement and world class recognition like the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the Dynamic DiscsDisc Golf Experience.”

The "Experience" Players Package

The “Experience” Players Package

Champion Eric McCabe with John Gold preparing players packs

World Champion Eric McCabe (L) with John Gold (R) preparing players packs

 

Normally for those who go to the AT&T Stadium they go as a spectator, but that all changed for many in a simple moment of amazement.
On the great day July 12, 2014 a great advancement and recognition for disc golf occurred. Disc golf would not be a spectator here, but it would be the main event showcasing the performances of a lifetime by many players. These performances would allow disc golfers that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at such a prestigious location and world class venue known as AT&T Stadium (aka “Cowboys Stadium” for the NFL Team that is homed here).

The view as you walk onto the field.

The view as you walk onto the field.

No matter what playing experience you may have had as a disc golfer, Professional or Amateur, walking through these corridors and being dwarfed by the dizzying size of the stadium overhead, with 80,000 seats around you and feeling the turf under your feet; you felt that surge of pride that YOU were playing for a sport that you love and you were not the spectator this time.

There were 550 players in attendance, 250 spectators and families, and the biggest witness I saw were the hundreds of non-disc golf players that actually watched the sport on display. These were the staff of the AT&T center and the many visitors that were taking tours of the stadium, visiting the Dallas Cowboys “Pro Shop,” those there for photo opportunities, and those that were there curiously trying to see what all of the tailgating, music, and activities on this day were all about.

This great event may not be the “Rose Bowl event of 1978” that many know of in the history of disc sports, but it is a great step in the direction to grow the sport of disc golf.

No matter what your sponsor or preferred disc manufacturer may be, you have to provide some great credit to Dynamic Discs Jeremy Rusco and his dedicated staff, teams, and volunteers for making the event a “Hole-In-One” Ace by getting this great opportunity and compounding it into a true “experience.”

A disc can bring you anywhere you throw it, but I never thought that it would bring me to a world famous professional sports and events stadium where I could be one of the first to put it on display in front of hundreds of players, spectators, and those who would have never known of our sport before.

The "Experience" Course Layout

The “Experience” Course Layout

The day was completely filled with smiles, awe, and the passionate sound of hitting chains accompanied by the the great confirmation of cheers from the crowd.
Around the stadium and on the field, players hit Aces that earned high fives and big accolades. Some had near Aces and the happy groans (like myself on the 50 yard line) that sometimes followed a statement of “if my throw would have been … it would have stayed in.” These were all individual things that make us so addicted to the sport and bring us back for more.
These great moments from the Dynamic Discs “Disc Golf Experience” showed everyone in attendance and everyone who played, that our sport is based in the true wholesome competitive fun we provide ourselves and that we never outgrew it.

Hole #10 Tee Box View. 300ft+ throw to the star on the 50 yard line, with a "mando" between the uprights.

Hole #10 Tee Box View. 265ft+ throw to the star on the 50 yard line, with a “mando” between the uprights.

We always strive to “grow the sport” in local media, social media, outreach, and through everyday sportsmanship of play, but on this day of “where a disc can take you”… Dynamic Discs grew it more than I think they even considered or what they could have imagined.

So, follow your discs and the spirit of our sport where ever they may take you, after all, you may never get the chance again to throw in a world famous professional sports and events stadium like the AT&T Stadium again, but if you were there, you can always look back on that day as a modern “Rose Bowl of 1978” and know that the Dynamic Discs “Disc Golf Experience” showed that Disc Golf was the superstar that everyone came to see on July 12, 2014.

Play It Forward. Grow The Sport.

DiscTroy

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Top 10 Things That Disc Golfers Do (that really ANNOY other disc golfers)

If you are new to the sport of disc golf or if you are a veteran of our beloved game, please spend a few moments to read and understand some of the top things that really ANNOY and bug disc golfers while playing. I compiled the list by actually listening to players conversations. It doesn’t take long for a disc golfer to share their passion on these things and this is not meant to be the “ultimate” list, but it is meant to enlighten, educate, and humor those who play our sport.

If you fall into one of these listed items, I am sure your friends and other players have spoken to you, or about it to you, at one time or the other. Let’s start at #10 and read to #1 and then let the conversation and highlights begin… (I welcome your feedback below)

10. PLAYERS WHO REFUSE TO “PLAY THROUGH
It’s as simple as you read it: Players who refuse to “play through” (see terminology section). These are players who catch up to your card, they do not care to play through, and yet catch up on you every hole with an attitude; never accepting the offer/request to “play through.” It does happen, and if it applies to you, don’t get flustered; after all, the group did offer you the opportunity.

9. “PLAY THROUGH” THROWERS
If you enter a situation that you are allowed to play through a person or group in front of you, be considerate and DO NOT throw multiple drives or more than one disc on the hole. When you do this it’s like a slight-of-hand trick to the people who just let you pass. Sure, they may not care, but many do. Now you are going just as slow playing your multiple shots as if you were still behind the group.

8. GROUPS NOT ALLOWING A “PLAY THROUGH”
Sometimes these are the most annoying to a single disc golfer on a busy course day. There will be some large groups that will not let you simply play through and yet you catch up to them on every hole. (sometimes they get offended each time you may have asked) Unless  you are in tournament or other very specific situation, let the single and double players pass, in most situations, they would have let you do it if you were asking as well.

7. THE TAKERS THAT DO NOT GIVE BACK
Each local course has them, the players who regularly play, but do not take the time to volunteer or help out on “work days” (big or small) or provide the needed support to those who do. Honestly, those who help maintain courses are not asking for hundreds of volunteer hours from it’s volunteers, just some consistent help. Donate supplies to the volunteer days, pick up trash while you play, coordinate the events, communicate the message, attend city meetings to defend or promote disc golf. Additionally, if you don’t volunteer to help, you lose your credentials to gripe about how “bad” things may be.

6. GENERAL RESPONSIBILITY
I have seen this at least once a weekend at almost every course I visit. People need to take responsibility for pets, kids, their friends, and non-playing persons that are with them. This is a greatly implied courtesy for EVERYONE at the course, it controls any safety concerns and lets everyone enjoy the day.
Pets  Be considerate of your pets running, barking, and agitating people on the course and tee box.
Kids  Ensure kids are cleared of dangers from discs, throwers and pets. Also, please do not let them pull discs from someone else’s bags and lastly, NO LITTERING etc. (Kids learn by example, teach them well)
Friends  Friends of players can be the worst sometimes, after all, the way you play together may be different than playing with others, so please show respect. The loud music, brash talk, and kicking of bags may not be cool around those you are currently playing with or around, so just look at it objectively (not personally) and still have fun.
Non-Playing Persons  I see this often as a “gallery” of people following or just hanging out with a player. Please remember that this is not a time for them to talk loudly on a cell phone,  climb trees for fun, or be involved in some other activity to the point it could be done OFF of the course. After all, were they there with you to watch, play, and learn or just do other things to annoy everyone?

5. THOSE WHO DO NOT RESPECT RULES
Pay To Play Respect the rules and pay. I see this from time to time and correct people and even pay for a few. The rules were established for the overall goal of course maintenance, municipal agreements, etc. (If it is a “donation” box that’s different) Most fees are minimal. Municipal courses have police patrols that will ticket you, so unless you like to spend a day in court, miss work, and pay a large sum of money; that $1 course fee is a wiser choice. If it is on PRIVATE property, that owner can press charges for theft. So just PAY AND PLAY.
Large Groups There is no law that tells you what to limit your disc golf “herd” (see terminology section) to, but some courses do have rules posted for courtesy asking that you keep your groups smaller. Do your best to abide or at least be considerate with others to play through if you are larger in numbers and slower than the rest.
Weather Bans Some courses simply need to restrict usage to protect the environment and course beauty; plus, your safety is in mind. If they have it closed or restricted, don’t violate the guidelines. You make disc golf look bad in the community, worst,  you could be the final cause to “why” a course closes. You make it damaging to the course if you don’t respect their request. KNOW THE RULES, RESPECT THE REASONS.
General Bans Substance use, alcohol, glass, music ordinances, types of trash, etc. These have been put in place for a reason and I know the sense of independence from disc golfers is strong. If you get busted, don’t fuss or cause a scene. Accept the fate and still remember to be great steward of the sport and abide by the rules/consequences.

4. ANIMAL WASTE (Packaged Or Not)
I really appreciate bringing my old “Ranger” dog onto the course with me, but I also bring with me bags and wrappers for his waste AND an additional bag to put it in until I reach a receptacle to throw it away in.
No one needs to find their disc hyzer planted as a “tombstone” into Fido’s stool sample. What’s worst? You learn that your disc gently landed directly on top of a steam pile, you unsuspectingly pick it up and place it in your bag. Yep, you gotta finish the round before you get to wash that bag out. Frustrating. FIDO DROPS IT, YOU BAG IT, YOU REMOVE IT.

3. VANDALISM (On A “PUBLIC” Course)
This one has caused MANY debates with regular players and infrequent players of our sport. People make an Ace, have a slang term, drug habit of choice, or obscenity and they feel they need to deface the basket, tee sign, tee box, benches or other amenities to tell the world about it. DON’T DO IT!
The key term here is PUBLIC course, not PRIVATE course, and it is classified as a criminal activity and it is vandalism. You are defacing a public property sponsored by tax payers and donors. Just as you couldn’t legally write your name on City Hall just because of your first visit, so why do it on our disc golf course. NO ONE CARES EXCEPT YOU.
If you make a monumental moment in your disc golf life, like an Ace, write on YOUR disc and not the PUBLIC basket. Those of us who work hard to maintain courses and get baskets installed do not wish to see them all tagged with your inane grasp of the modern language. It does not bode well for the course and it is illegal. If I read your name, I don’t remember that you Aced the shot, myself and the almost maximum majority just know that you ruined our course.
~ Additional thought ~ this goes for your business/group/club stickers as well. I am playing disc golf, not reading little billboards of advertisement to decide if I should buy your product. A plausible exception for this would be if that business/group/club was a key sponsor of the course, hole, amenity, etc.

2. TRASH AND LITTER ON THE COURSE
This is a NO BRAINER in my book. On most courses you CANNOT blame vagrants and school kids.
Sure in some of the frequent areas like trails and benches, everyone could be suspect of the crime, but who else would be deep in the woods in an area where, low and behold, you find beer cans, energy drinks, cigarette butts, and trail mix wrappers on the ground at a tee box? It seems that only disc golfers make it there to taint the beauty of the landscape. PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT.

1. THIEVES
I think most everyone can agree on this. These are the people who steal baskets, take park amenities, steal donations/pay boxes, and even take other players discs directly from the courses (even while in play!). There is simply no room for it. Disc golfers in general are a very socially acceptable group, if you need something, someone is always willing to give it to you, get it to you, work it out for you, or share it with you. There is NO NEED TO STEAL FROM THE COURSES… LET THE BASKETS SERVE THE COURSE (not you)!

 AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!!  The “Top 10 Things That Disc Golfers Do (that really ANNOY other disc golfers)“… so stop your reading and get to throwing… see you on the course and remember to Grow The Sport and Play It Forward.

DiscTroy

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Austin Bible Ridge Disc Golf Course ~ Volunteerism & A World Class John Houck Design

It has been a banner week for great stories in the local media about Disc Golf in Central Texas. Most recently John Houck of Houck Design was highlighted in a recent article in the Austin American Statesman.

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/church-turns-land-into-disc-haven/ngmt5/

The Austin Bible Ridge DGC is one of my all time favorites. The view from 11A/B is awesome. I always love and appreciate the course designs by John Houck. He is a player and master you can talk forever with about our sport and so much more.
If you have ever thought “Who made this hole?” (with a concerned sense of fear)… it was probably him, so don’t get frustrated, overcome the challenge and smile when you make par.
Raise your game and play a John Houck course.

For more on a great local legend and champion like John Houck, please spend some time and read about him and his course designs HERE.

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City Renovations of Zilker Park In The Local News

If you are member of the Central Texas Disc Golf community, then you most likely have played some holes at Zilker Disc Golf Course near downtown Austin, TX. It is a great course that has been around for many years and it is finally getting some major love and maintenance to address the environmental impacts and the increased use that has built upon it.

Here is a local newspiece highlighting the Engineering aspects of the maintenance and improvements: http://kxan.com/2014/07/22/city-renovating-zilker-park-disc-golf-course/

As a personal note, I know the fluff piece was just about the engineering, but I would have hoped that they would have included small notes about the park improvements coming from the Waterloo DGC and how they helped lower the cost of the project by providing our support as well.
The Waterloo DGC will be assisting with a new kiosk, tee signs, a course map with instructions and information, new tee boxes, replacement baskets, and landscaping that will shape the course for years to come.

It is great to see partnerships like this work between multiple levels of participation (public & private) and it is always good to see Disc Golf in the local news to raise positive awareness of our sport and its direct positive impacts in the community.

If you are interested in the location of Zilker Park Disc Golf Course, please check out the local “Course Updates” section of this blog and it will provide you some additional information.

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