Mount Rushmore is one of the most iconic symbols in the United States. Four of the most influential people in the nation’s history are showcased on the granite front. This got us thinking… who would be on the Mount Rushmore of disc golf?
After brainstorming some ideas we found the answer to this question to be quite difficult to find. Two names quickly rise to the top and secure their place, but the other two spots could go in many different directions.
Headrick, known as the “father of disc golf” firmly secures a spot on this hypothetical disc golf monument. One could argue that reading this article wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Headrick. We don’t have to make much of a case for this one.
The argument for Dunipace is equally as easy. As the co-founder and current CEO of Innova Discs, Dunipace created and helped usher in the modern disc golf disc. The beveled edge discs were designed for disc golf and only disc golf. While he designed the first discs in the early 1980s, he still puts his stamp on the latest releases from Innova today.
Victor Malafronte (PDGA #2) isn’t a name that might jump out to today’s disc golfers, but you could argue that the courses you play on today and the sport in general might not exist without the efforts of Malafronte. He was the first World Frisbee Champion in 1974 and through his work with Wham-O Malafronte helped take disc golf from a concept to reality. He designed courses and made the Frisbee itself into a household name.
Dan “Stork” Roddick (PDGA #3) is another icon who has deep roots with not just disc golf but the Frisbee itself. Roddick was the Director of Sports Promotion at Wham-O from 1975 until the mid 1990s. Roddick can be credited with some of the earliest “grow the sport” efforts in the 1970s. His influence runs deep and many of the products you see today were either born from his ideas or were inspired by him.
Ken Climo (PDGA #4297) by name alone should make a strong enough case. Climo dominated disc golf in the 90s with nine straight PDGA World Championships from 1990-98 before claiming titles in 2000, 2002, 2006 to bring his Men’s Open World Championship number to 12. He has since added World Championships in the Masters division in 2012 and 2014. You also can’t forget his five United State Disc Golf Championships as well. He’s called “the Champ” for a reason.
Who do you think belongs on the Mount Rushmore of disc golf? Admittedly, we didn’t put Ken Climo on the “no brainer” list for a reason. We initially looked at this as the ones who shaped the history of disc golf. Then we realized that disc golf isn’t really all that old in comparison to the country itself. George Washington and Abe Lincoln were born 77 years apart from each other. Obviously some longer history as to what made this country what it is. We thought of Climo in more of the “modern era” than the “founding era” of disc golf. Even as we wrote this article, we’re realizing the case for Climo to be one of the final three is more obvious than we thought.
There are many ways you can look at this. Are we just entering the true “modern era” of disc golf? Was everything up until a few years ago still the “founding era” of the sport?
Some might say names like Jussi Meresmaa, Paul McBeth, Nate Doss, Elaine King, John Houck, Dr. Rick Voakes, Dr. Stancil Johnson, etc… Some of those names just mentioned have been around the sport since it’s founding while some are big today, but wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for others. Undoubtedly three world championships (McBeth and Doss) certainly look great, their overall importance on the sport’s history is dwarfed by the other names listed above. Still important people, but doesn’t quite crack that four we are looking for.
Who takes that final spot? Who haven’t we talked about? Who has made such an impact on the founding and growth of disc golf so they can be honored on disc golf’s Mount Rushmore?