You can’t talk about the history of the Professional Disc Golf Association without starting with the Father of Disc Golf himself, “Steady” Ed Headrick. Not only did he patent the first Frisbee in 1966, but he also invented an integral part of the disc golf game – the disc golf basket. Termed a pole hole, he was issued a patent for its design in 1975.
Gaining momentum with both patents and a newly founded company, DGA, “Steady” Ed turned his sights to another facet of the sport that was pretty revolutionary for its time. With the idea to create a membership-based community around disc golf, he created the Professional Disc Golf Association in 1976.
His efforts to attract members included a letter sent out to nearly 100 of the top players at the time, as well as grassroots efforts of talking with everyone he encountered at local events about his new organization. At the time, a mere $10 could give you access to a lifetime membership and your own PDGA number. While it was tough for some to put together the money, they were excited at the potential that such an organization could bring.
Throughout the years, the PDGA has grown to a size that perhaps “Steady” Ed himself never thought imaginable. There are currently close to 40,000 active members and hundreds of sanctioned events held each year. Over the years, roughly a dozen awards have been presented to members of the PDGA with some pretty impressive track records. Perhaps one of the most noted players includes Ken Climo, with 15 PDGA Pro Worlds Championships under his belt.
Why Join The PDGA?
“Steady” Ed’s vision was right on the mark over 40 years ago when he desired to create a group that would bring disc golfers together across the country, and later the world. The benefits of joining and renewing your yearly membership are numerous, but some of the top reasons include:
- Supporting the disc golf community. We all push to grow the sport in every way we can, and being a member of the PDGA is one of the more foundational ways to show our support. Each year as the membership base grows and grows, it demonstrates just how enjoyable and accessible disc golf is for nearly everyone out there.
- Playing events without additional fees. When you register for a sanctioned event, you are asked to pay a fee if you’re not a current PDGA member. While they aren’t much, usually $10 or so, they can add up if you play a lot during the year. In most cases, the money you save from these waived fees pays for your membership pretty quickly.
- Access to player ratings. Each sanctioned tournament you play in as a registered PDGA member gives you around rating and contributes to your overall player rating. Ratings can vary and there are often outliers from time to time, but for the most part, they help you to track your own improvement and can add a fun and competitive edge when playing with friends.
- Creating a community environment. There’s just something about becoming a PDGA member that gives you the feeling of being part of a secret club. Knowing you support the organization gives you a few extra credit points within your local club and beyond.
Just recently the PDGA got to celebrate a pretty cool milestone. Since each new member is issued their own number, it makes it easy to keep track of all of the disc golfers that have ever paid to be a part of the PDGA. In a true demonstration of the growth of the sport, PDGA number 100,000 was assigned not long ago!
As of 2017, there are over 31 countries with PDGA members. Events in Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are picking up steam, and the first event in Brazil was held in June of 2017.
If you’re not already a member of the PDGA, visit their website for a quick and easy application process. What better way to show your love of the sport than to support the original community created by the Father of Disc Golf himself.