My voyage into the disc golf world began at the Kensington Park "Tunnel" course during the winter of 1998. The snow was deep, the discs were lost, and my group didn't make it past the first few holes. Despite my unsatisfactory initial attempt at disc golf, the dynamics of the game fascinated me, propelling a mere interest into what you might call an obsession; a situation many disc golfers can relate to, I'm sure. To my luck, the course at Cass Benton was installed for the 2000 PDGA pro/am World Championships- a disc's throw away from my house. When I relocated to Kalamazoo to attend Western Michigan University, I found myself in the midst of several fantastic courses hosting a strong disc golf community. The frequency of my play increased, obsession grew, and I began participating in tournaments and venturing out to new courses around Michigan as well as other states such as California and Colorado.
During an escape to Northern Michigan in 2001, I traveled three hours out of my way to play a course. The fairways contained such long, unkempt grass, we realized it wasn't worth continuing after losing several discs on the first three holes. As we solemnly walked back to the car the epiphany hit: if only there was a guidebook that provided the necessary information to avoid this type of disappointment and the waste of time and money... wait... I could bring this crucial information to disc golfers state-wide! My idea resonated for the next several years as the popularity of disc golf grew with each new course addition. I finally decided that upon graduation I would delve into a project I would call Disc Golf Michigan.
Hunkered down in the midst of a Kalamazoo winter, I began laying the foundation for the mission in January of 2006. In order to cater to the needs of the common disc golfer, I posted an online survey to discover what type of information they value most. After carefully preparing for our quest to reach every course in Michigan, my dog Poca and I set sail the following May to gather as much information as possible. Stemming from motivations to make this project earth-friendly, our vessel was a '97 Dodge Ram diesel converted to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO), collected from various restaurants along the way. We pulled behind our "box" (travel trailer) which we called home. I photographed, measured, drew, and took notes on every hole in all eighty-seven courses along with learning as much as possible about the park or property in which each course resides. During the course tour, I designed and installed two nine-hole temporary courses, inspired by BlissFest, at Hoxeyville Music Festival and Earthwork Harvest Gathering, bringing the total to eighty-nine courses featured in the first edition. The quest took six months, averaging a new course every other day. Many kindhearted folks helped us along our journey, with offerings of food and camping space. With all necessary information in hand, eight months of research and organization loomed ahead. The detailed course descriptions were carefully written based on unique features and trends found within each course. And, to avoid backtracking, saving you time and gas money, I included driving directions from every possible route. Needless to say, it was more than a full-time job spanning a year and a half.
This publication reflects my deep-rooted values to support local businesses as the majority of disc golf related stores, found within the publication, are locally owned and the eco-friendly pages of the book were printed in Michigan. I feel extremely grateful to be a part of a community where we have the opportunity to realize our individual niches and then merge them, further empowering each other to carry out our missions. This concept is reflected in the symbiotic relationship that I have with Hoxeyville and Earthwork music festivals, my graphic designer, editors, webmaster, and most importantly YOU since I am able to provide exclusive information to enhance your disc golf experiences in Michigan.
After the development of the 1st Edition of Disc Golf Michigan, I had no idea when, or even if, I would write a revision. But lo and behold, the popularity of disc golfing in Michigan continued to grow, with the recent exponential rate of course installations and the unquestionable surge of fairway traffic. I learned of twenty-seven more courses within a year of the 1st Edition release, sold nearly 1,500 copies, and received great reviews on the publication, which encouraged me to pursue another. So, I vegged around Michigan for two months, with my pup Poca, visiting the new courses. I then spent the entire winter, and most of the summer for that matter, compiling all of the gathered info as well as contacting course overseers for updates on the existing courses. You will read new information on nearly every repeat course and I am happy to report that only two courses closed.
I believe that you will find the 2nd Edition more user-friendly as well as aesthetically pleasing. This time, I included information about disc golf itself, basic rules, etiquette, and tips for beginners. So, theoretically, one can pick up the book, having never heard of disc golf before, and know which discs to buy, where to get them, where to find a novice level course, and how to play. From children to the elderly, anyone can engage in this low-impact activity.
The State of Michigan has recently recognized the undeniable value in the sport of disc golf. Since the release of the 1st Edition, which contained the first State Park course at Holly Rec. Area in Holly, the four following State Parks have installed courses: Fort Custer Rec. Area in Augusta, Waterloo Rec. Area in Grass Lake, Newaygo State Park in Newaygo, and Sleepy Hollow State Park in Laingsburg. The State owns some of the most beautiful land available for recreational use, and with Michigan in such economic despair, the accumulation of disc golf in the parks will surely bring additional profits. I sincerely wish to see this trend continue in the future.
In August of 2008, Kalamazoo hosted a very successful PDGA Pro/Am World Championships. The 2nd Edition contains nine of the ten courses utilized in the tournament. David Feldberg, who actually learned to disc golf in Kalamazoo several years ago, won the men's open division, bringing his career full circle. Both he and Valerie Jenkins, the women's open champ, are pictured in the publication.
I fully support the pay-to-play fees now in affect at the Metroparks (Hudson Mills, Kensingon, and Stony Creek) and other parks around the state. I believe, and genuinely hope, that this system helps to dissolve the prevalent vandalizing of the signs, baskets, and grounds. It will most certainly provide these parks, which offer phenomenal courses, with revenue for maintenance and improvements. To me, I would rather pay to play on a nice, clean course with updated equipment than play a free course littered with vandalism. The affordable cost still equals much less than ball golf greens fees.
It warms my heart when people tell me how much they have enjoyed and depended on Disc Golf Michigan. Whether it inspired them to try disc golf, plan vacations around the contents, or visit a new course where they had a great time, these stories confirm the intentions of my vision and inspire me to continue bringing the information to the masses. I am witnessing this affordable, fun, healthy pastime shifting in a fabulous direction and I feel extremely blessed to take part in the forward movement.