Who belongs on disc golf’s Mount Rushmore?


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.

Two no-brainers

“Steady” Ed Headrick (PDGA #1) and Dave Dunipace (PDGA #987) were the two names that quickly jumped out to us.

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.

Strong cases

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.

Your thoughts

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? 




  1. With an admitted slight tinge of regional bias, I would offer up the names Tom Schot and Marty Hapner for consideration. Both are already Hall-of-Famers.

    Tom designed one of the world’s most historically famous courses (DeLaveaga) among numerous others, and pioneered the concept of the 27-hole course and with the Masters Cup was the first to host a tournament with a duration of more than two weekend days.

    Marty brought the power of the internet age by creating discgolf.com, at the time a sort of Yahoo/Craigslist-style compendium of disc golf info, and he also created the first PDGA.com website. His contributions to the disc golf scene in Santa Cruz through his efforts at DeLaveaga add to his legacy.

    • Pat Broderick PDGA #9100 on

      I would have to nominate Ted Smethers, the first President of the PDGA. His 6 years of tireless effort produced the basic organizational structure and responsibilities that have allowed this organization to survive and thrive. From Certified Tournament Directors to technical standards of discs and disc catchers, he was very thorough in building a foundation that has supported the growth of this organization to this day.

  2. Dee Parrish on

    The founding fathers are great, but what about the pioneers for women in disc golf? Or one of our current day standouts like Paige Pierce or Val Jenkins? They are founders in their own rights as they are promoting women’s roles in the sport on a daily basis.

  3. Lavone Wolfe on

    The faces that should be on the Mount Rushmore of disc golf are:
    Ed Headrick
    Dan “Stork Roddick
    Tom Monroe
    Ken Climo

    For those who truly know our history I shouldn’t have to elaborate on the accolades and accomplishments of these giants but without Ed we wouldn’t have our target and the PDGA. Dan was instrumental on many levels of organization and participation as a player. Tom, with 19 World titles, was the “Johnny Appleseed of disc golf, roaming the country running tournaments, doing demos, running tournaments and installing courses. He was our first superstar and full time player. Ken of course still is easily proclaimed as our greatest player. Yes, there is easily an argument for Dave Dunipace, Jim Palmeri, Vanessa Chambers and Ted Smethers. They paved the way for our existence in so many ways. But of course that is why they are all in the inaugural class of the Disc Golf Hall of Fame.

    Lavone Wolfe PDGA580

  4. Seth Fendley on

    How about Ted Smethers? #1159, he is a hall of fame disc golfer credited with leading the PDGA from 84-88 and working to create the National Tour.

  5. Craig Hunter PDGA #613 on

    Closely matching Lavone’s comments, my picks:
    Ed Headrick (George Washington of disc golf)
    Dan Roddick (Thomas Jefferson of flying disc sports)
    John Kirkland (Teddy Roosevelt of DG/flying disc sports – 2nd world champion and prolific ambassador)
    Elaine King (champion, commissioner and long-time ambassador)

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