2001 – Austin, TX
2002 – Frisco, CO (and copper)
2003 – Wrightwood, CA
2004 – Augusta, GA
2005 – St. Paul, MN (and inver grove heights)
2006 – Paw Paw, WV
2007 – Estacada, OR
2008 – Vadito, NM (sipapu, picuris pueblo)
2009 – Springfield, IL
2010 – Warren, VT
2011 – Austin, TX
2012 – Seattle, WA
2013 – Springfield, IL
2014 – Southern California
2015 – it could be you? Go bid at 2012 – Seattle, WA
Ever wonder about the distance and SSA for the courses at Nationals? wonder no more
Each of the nationals have their own story to tell. Be sure to ask the winners of each nationals their story.
Austin, TX – site of the first unofficial Nationals. (if you really want to get unofficial, one could hold up an argument for pittsburgh, pa as the first nationals then..) The internet was beginning to fuel the fire of rapid communications. Wyndtell, Motorla and Skynet devices populated the masses as they kept in touch. It was these devices and the internet that encouraged a few out of state competitors to take on the texas masses. I remember Larry Poulin from New England, Michael Sherman from Minnesota, Kevin Harrer from Colorado, and Kent Schafer from Illinois among 25+ Texans. I remember playing in the mud and learning how texas is populated with dry dusty courses that lack proper irrigation so when it rains, it floods and the floods take forever to drain, hence the mud becomes synonymous with dg. The atmosphere was incredible as the social attitude kept us going nonstop with DG, DG, Bats, Deaf Club, 6th street, waffles, then some more DG. In terms of location – this town has an open invitation to those with an open mind.
Little known fact: The year before Austin, The 1st internet advertised deaf disc golf tournament on the internet was New Brunswick, Maine. Site of the Beauty and the Beast. Fred McKinley showed us all how it was done.
Frisco, CO –This nationals was hosted by Kevin Harrer. He added the concept of random doubles tournament with the hearies. A local pro won our cold hard cash with his random deaf partner. (lil known fact, This local hearie pro also won the $ from his deaf partner on a sidebet. The deaf partner didnt believe a “2” could happen on a 600 foot hole and the local pro says sure, if we get a two on this hole, I get your half. – agreed. Good ‘nuff. He rolls a disc 550+ to get a decent putt for a deuce. Nice of John Bird to donate his winnings to Wrightwood – site of our 3rd National Deaf Championships. In terms of beauty, camping within earshot of conveniences and having a “charter bus” transport us from 1 course to the other – this event was a crowd pleaser. Also site of where a rapport over the nightly campfire broke out an organization titled USADDGA with David Good, Kevin Harrer, Shayan Keramati and Chris Preston with Corey Driscoll as the first to step up and make this an official organization.
Wrightwood, CA – This tourney will always be remembered as Plan B in our eyes. The original concept had Ski Sunrise with 27 holes and the adjacent mtn with 18 holes well prepared, groomed, campsites on the same mountain top and pre-registration and the sorts alllllll ready. We walked the course and was drooling at the idea of tackling Ski Sunrise course.. 1-2 weeks before Deaf Nationals became a reality, the owner went bankrupt and had to sell the ski resort. With every intention of keeping the Nationals still on and having people arriving daily, Dustin Warren went ahead and worked out an agreement to get the baskets from storage and create a brand new course on the mountain down the road with help from Dan Doyle, Dan “Stork” Roddick, and Rick Rothstein. Dew even refunded some of the money back to those who pre-paid since the contract with Ski Sunrise was torn up. Many thanks to that ski resort to give us their blessing and run a TEMP course on that mountain just so we could have nationals. Given the circumstance, Dew did a fantastic job considering all things that blew up in his face and overcome all the odds. This was the site where DT had his infamous comeback and Rob Huizar blew up in the final nine. How many strokes did DT make up?? 7? i’ll remember the fun i had with Jesse Crawford as i help him work his way through 18 holes of mtn golf. Turns out help carrying Jesse since his knees are unable to bend and he has to use a brace to balance himself gave me my best score and for the 1st time, i was staring the lead card. Unfortunately – i could not keep it up. This also introduced the flight system where scores were separated like golf. Flight system did not work out much to the chagrin of the competitors. Everyone got paid. There was no major $ at the top due to such breakdown. It was here that we decided USADDGA would become DDGA. Officers were voted and Jeremy Quiroga snuck past David Good to become the President of DDGA.
With the help of Jeffrey Roberts, the next Nationals event occurred at Augusta, Georgia on two beautiful courses; Riverview course at North Augusta, SC and Lake Olmstead at Augusta, Georgia. The campsite and DDGA meeting were situated between hole # 7 and hole #8 at riverview disc golf course. We also had a nice trail that led to the Savannah river. With the temperatures in the high 90’s and the heat index creeping past 100’s, this waterspot served as a fantastic way to cool down after those hot summer rounds. Having the sun set as we played in the water served as the highlight for those who made the travel. Lake Olmstead had 9 holes on the side of a hill and 9 holes coming back against the side of a lake. This Nationals is the only time an Amateur Men champion scored better than the Open Men division champion on the same layout. The Long distance competition started here with the use of #18’s fairway at riverview park. Brian Graham was the coordinator and later became the PDGA president. We had some of our longest DDGA meetings ever as we tried to identify our goals during this building phase. We had 3 hour meeting nightly for 3 nights to discuss all kinds of issues as we moved forward with progress.
In 2005, the first 100% Deaf nationals (no hearing co-tournament director, nor a hearing volunteer in sight that didn’t know sign language) became a reality with Robin Johnson and Michael Wynne. With the two courses, Kaposia park and North Valley park, a competition was underway. Ricky Cornish III emerged as leader after the first round and after the end of the day, Kent Schafer and David Tomlinson were duking it out for the champion. After the fourth round, it became clear that David Tomlinson had the stamina and was ready to earn his second DDGA national title belt. At the very last hole, DT had some difficulty and nearly coughed up his title in the final nine. Fortunately for him, his lead was astronomical so no contender came close after round four. A putting competiton was added for the first time during this nationals. There were approximately 70 players for this event.
2006 served as one of the most challenging task ever for Deaf Nationals. An event was to be situated on a private property an hour from the nearest point of civilization. Members of DDGA voted to host the 2006 Deaf nationals at Paw Paw, West Virginia. 48 brave souls roughed it out on the most punishing courses ever at nationals. The paw paw committee were able to raise enough $ to pay out for the first time ever, $1,000 for first place. Fireworks, bonfire, social time, and tough courses to battle on will echo in the traveller’s head long after the event is over.
When Shannon Lally looked at his wife, Jackie, who was pregnant, he almost decided not to attend National Deaf Disc Golf Championships just a mere 3 hours away from his home in Baltimore. Thanks to Jackie’s resolve to join him on this adventure, 9 months pregnant and all, Shannon indeed did take it upon himself to make the short trek over to Paw Paw, West Virginia with Jackie and his future kid in tow.
People came from all over the country with the same noble goals as Shannon did. They wanted to test their ability to wield round plastic objects called discs blended with time honored tradition of golf. For those of you who don’t know what disc golf is? Disc Golf is played much like traditional ball golf, and many of the same rules apply. However, instead of a ball and clubs, players use flying discs made from special plastic. Disc golfers employ a wide range of discs with varying flight characteristics to suit their needs, much like how a ball golfer uses a set of clubs with different shapes. In short, you throw discs! The “hole” is not a hole in the ground, but a metal basket with chains. With this in mind – disc golf can be established at any park, backyard, or private property. Natural obstacles such as trees, elevation and water often come into thought when establishing a course. Most of the holes are within 250 to 400 feet. For you golfer fans, this is FEET not yards! Disc golf requires very little maintenance apart from the usual landscaping requirements.
Carved into the Appalachia is this beauty that was envisioned by Spencer and Gabby Thurman. 36 holes of varying challenges were present to test our mettle. The humidity, the elevation, the stunning backdrop and the denizen of trees sprouted by Mother Nature to whip our discs into submission left us with so many stories to regale. Never did we think that we would card so many 5′s..6′s..7′s..8′s.. Yes even 9′s..10′s.. And the occassional 11′s.. (Scorewise – Less is better; the average disc golfer gets three to five strokes per hole) Most of us left swearing yet relieved that we made it. We all left with memories that we will never forget during the four day weekend challenge of tossing and heaving them solid discs into elevated metal baskets.
It was a fantastic weekend as the MADDGA (Mid-Atlantic Deaf Disc Golf Association) Crew managed to make this isolated event into a fantastic weekend for all who made the trek into the middle of nowhere. This was the first tournament hosted away from civilization in a sense. The nearest town was 20 minutes of drive time. Mad props to the MADDGA crew for providing food, ice, water and various activities for all the people involved in this event. (Note to all: When out in the boonies, don’t forget to bring Toilet paper) They took the time to mow the property and put up sponsor tee signs on every one of the 36 holes. Their effort was truly appreciated.
I’ll never forget when my disc soared over land and water on hole #18 of the Whipping Post Course. Upon the disc’s final descent, the disc’s impact on the metal basket earned a solid ricochet off the basket back into the water. I made the 30+ foot putt for a circle THREE – I made only two throws plus the Out of Bounds (O.B.) due to disc in water. If your disc surrounds water, it is o.b. Remember the reference earlier about some of us left swearing – In my case, from a potential ONE on the scorecard into a THREE, grr.
Apart from the Singles Format which it’s every man (or woman in this case) for themselves to make the least amount of throws over a period of time to become the champ, there were other competitions that took place.
For throwing prowess, Eric Hamlow (California) put on a show by tossing his disc 412 feet to boldly stake his claim in the longest throw department for the weekend. For accuracy contest – Shannon Lally proved it’s the archer, not the arrow showcasing his putting skills.
Teamwork is a necessity in doubles format for reducing strokes. Strategy, communication and skill was utilized for the the leaders were 4 strokes off tying the course record in the entire history. Dain Sivak (Georgia) and Kent Schafer (Illinois) blended chemistry and talent into defeating the rest of “bring your own partner” showdown.
Tamara Majocha (Maryland) continued her domination of the Women’s division. She has won four out of the 6 nationals hosted so far. Women, if you want to learn how to play and have the opportunity to learn from the best, Seek Tamara out, there’s a rumor that she’s enrolled on the east coast so there should be sufficient opportunities to see a female deaf disc golfer in top form!
West Virginia’s native son John Buck finally captured the Advanced Amateur title and is ready to move up with the big boys in Open Division. Remember Shannon Lally? On July 29th, he kicked Paw Paw patoot to the tune of $1,000 and a nice cool dip into the pond as the 6th annual deaf disc golf national Champion! A few days later, Shannon became a proud father to Katelyn Riley Lally. 7 lbs, 11oz. Way to go Shannon!
Larry Pearce (Maryland) shared with us the following: “I never thought he would have so much fun — and do so well — at my first ever deaf nationals. My fifth place finish was a pleasant surprise, given the experience and determination of several veteran players. ..saw a lot of old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in many years. They helped to provide me with a sense of calm, of familiarity, and that helped enhance my overall experience. Also, I made several new friends, some of whom I look forward to seeing again at future disc golf events. I’m proud to say that the event was a tremendous success in terms of course difficulty, organization, and large payouts (cash and merchandise). The courses were long and difficult, just the way we like them; the committee covered many painstaking details to ensure success; and the sheer size of the payouts pretty much shocked everyone.”
In the year of 2007, the nationals headed west to Estacada, Oregon which is about 30 miles southeast of Portland. There, we were able to play the site of the annual Beaver State Fling.
In 2008, the nationals went down to Sipapu, New Mexico which is about an hour north of Santa Fe, NM.
Springfield, Illinois laid claim to the 2009 Deaf Nationals. For the first time ever, we had too many participants and had to split up the courses. Half of players would play one course while the other half would play the other course. Luckily we had enough volunteers to make this become a reality. “Hey, I’ve got a question. Did that really just happen? It’s over already! I was expecting time to stand still for an eternity, the way it should for those priceless moments that you can’t replace. But it never does. Heck, this tournament wouldn’t have reached a conclusion if time didn’t march right on. And it’s only because of time that I can look back on the week with the kind of affection that I normally reserve for the best times of my life. The National Deaf Disc Golf tournament belongs in those hallowed archives and I want to take a moment to tell you why.
The fun began when the players descended upon the city of Springfield in the state of Illinois one by one until droves of deaf disc golfers were swarming the parks in anticipation for the best tourney of their lives. Over 100 competitors were expected and they could be seen practicing on the courses up until the event. We had a record number of Deaf Disc Golfers in one location.
Most fortunate were those who came and experienced the full package of playing in the weekly Springfield Disc Golf Club (www.discgolfclub.org) leagues on Wednesday, the bring your own partner doubles on Thursday, and the whopping 4-round singles tournament on Friday and Saturday. News stations came and gawked, which drew locals to the event like moths to a lamp. One local was quoted in his amazement to find that the baskets were not deer feeders!
Due to sheer size, we made the last minute decision to split the courses and volunteers. This was done to ensure maximum output for the players to compete and minimize backups. Definitely a fun problem to have as this was history in the making.
The players had so much fun at the various locations such as the hotel, pool, campground, and the player’s party on Friday night at the Pizza Machine restaurant where two six-foot diameter pizzas were devoured by the hungry crowd. The parents and children had so much fun that they even asked to go back on Saturday night!
The long distance competition showcased the finest limbs in the nation. First, David Tomlinson of Texas eeked out a throw of 385 feet to claim 3rd place. Then, Dan Burton of Wisconsin and Jeremy Farnsworth of Iowa riled up the crowd with a head-to-head shooting spree. Dan pulled with all his might in defense of his crown, launching a bomber that spun for 415 feet, but it wasn’t enough to contend with Jeremy Farnsworth and his bazooka arm which unleashed an amazing 435 feet of hangtime! The choice of disc to get that much distance was the star wraith.
Due to nightfall and the length of the driving competition, there was no putting contest or 50/50 ctp. As a result, the prizes allocated for those events will instead be donated to VT10 with hopes to put on an even better show! Yes, $280 will be mailed to VT10.
To avoid a lull in the crowd at 8:45pm as the awards ceremony approached, there were misc t-shirts, minis, and discs scattered into the crowd from the main stage. Talk about an adrenaline rush! The adults were clambering over themselves under the shower of free merchandise, and the juniors didn’t have a leg to stand on. Note to future tournament-givers: Set juniors aside from adults so they can stand a fighting chance!
We had a record number of Recreational Women and Juniors take up the $0 free entry and play the courses.Each division winner won trophies, varied from quality collectible discs to picture frames featuring candid shots of themselves during the weekend. The ceremony closed with hoots and hollers as Justin Ashton from Texas was awarded back to back championships for Open Men and fireworks blazed in the night sky above.
Justin Ashton of Texas had an exciting comeback in the final nine as he canned some lengthy putts to upstart the local player and Tournament Director/Event Coordinator, Kent Schafer. Congratulations Justin!
A newcomer on the scene for the women division raced to the finish and claimed her 1st ever nationals title. Will she try to repeat at VT10? Keep your eye peeled out for Bethany Hummel of Oregon.
For the master’s division, an old stalwart who had the taste of the 1st ever open division championships came back from a long hiatus and won his respectful division. He is the first person to snag chains on Hole #6 at Douglas Park to a tune of $104 dollars! Talk about a huge welcome back for Jimmy Starr!
Not to be outdone, Daniel Sweet of Texas made an incredible comeback in the fourth and final round to emerge as victor of the Amateur division. Reminds me of the old adage “It aint over til it’s over.” Be sure to look out for Daniel among the big boys next year!
Many thanks to Tournament Director Brad Dow for taking the time to help run a pool on Friday before he left to go to Wisconsin for his mother-in-law’s funeral on Saturday. David “Tree” Robson was able to take his place to ensure the split course show would go on. The weather teased us at every twist and turn with clouds and one 5 minute shower on Wednesday afternoonbut nary a drop was spilt on our competitors and we were blessed with hot, sticky humid weather that was barely offsetted by the hundreds of gallons of water distributed on both courses. How about them water cooler, folks?
Huge props to the MacMurray College for sending out four student intern interpreters to gain more experience interpreting for the Deaf. Ricky Rogers, Jenna Buck, Ina Ayala and Chelsey Lapinski. They spent over 30 hours in 3 days soaking up the experience of a lifetime as they mingled with over 100 deaf players, fans, and family from 25 different states. If you are looking for future interpreters to assist in your events, I personally recommend Ina and Chelsey! They went out of their way to learn deaf + disc golf. Check out your local Interpreter Training Programs in your area if you want cheap convenient Sign Language Interpreters for your event.
For the people fortunate enough to witness the 9th Deaf Disc Golf Nationals, memories of IL09 will live for a very long time. A multitude of thanks from DDGA to everyone involved with this tournament, all of the volunteers, parks staff, local law enforcement, the city mayor, news stations, and especially hearing TD, Jim Trotter, who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that this experience mirrored as closely the dream that we all had of a perfect disc golf adventure.”