2017 Professional Disc Golf Association Inductees
Pictured from left to right: John Bird, Des Reading and Brian Graham.
APPLING, Ga. – The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) recently inducted three contributors to the sport of disc golf whose passion for disc golf transcends personal gain. The Disc Golf Hall of Fame (DGHOF) is considered the highest honor in the world of disc golf.
The 2017 PDGA Hall of Fame inductees include Des Reading, Brian Graham and John Bird. The induction ceremonies were held during the 2017 National Tour Elite Series finale event, the Ed Headrick Hall of Fame Classic (HOFC) on October 13-15 at the International Disc Golf Center (IDGC) in Appling.
The DGHOF is an independent organization dedicated to the promotion of disc golf, its premier pioneers and players. The DGHOF was founded in 1993 by Lavonne Wolfe of Huntsville, Ala. Wolfe also created what is now known as the Headrick Memorial Museum, now housed at the IDGC.
Des Reading, originally from Woodward, Iowa who now calls Wimberley, Texas, home joined the PDGA in 1999 and became a professional player in 2001.
She is a four-time PDGA World Champion; a five-time PDGA United States Women’s Champion; a three-time PDGA Mixed Doubles Champion and a two-time US Master’s Women’s Champion. Reading had more than 200 professional career wins and 30 PDGA National Tour wins.
Reading leads free disc golf skills clinics that are open to the public and she leads school, youth and in-service disc golf training sessions that reach tens of thousands of youth around the world. She also instructs teachers and youth leaders in ways to implement disc golf in their educational curriculum.
“I originally played disc golf in 1992 as a way to enjoy the outdoors, friends and as a break from the rigors of college studies and athletics. I was a Division 1 softball pitcher at the University of Northern Iowa,” she said. “Armed with one disc and a slew of friends that included Jay Reading, my future husband, I would regularly ride my bike down to play Tourist Park in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I realized that disc golf was a wonderful lifetime activity that could be enjoyed by all, and that it saved green space in neighborhood communities. I am passionate about both of these aspects that are naturally highlighted by disc golf and continue to promote and play today because of these characteristics. I joined the PDGA in 1999, while attending a SuperTour event at which a PDGA membership was required. With the knowledge and guidance of Duster Don Hoffman (HOF Class of 2011), I became a vested PDGA member.”
Brian Graham of Augusta, Ga., is the founder of the Augusta Disc Golf Association, the founder of the PDGA International Disc Golf Hall of Fame Classic NT event and the founder of the PDGA International Disc Golf Center. He instituted the addition of disc golf as a sport in the Georgia State Games Championships and was a PDGA Region 8 coordinator, a PDGA International Disc Golf Center committee chairman, a PDGA Operations Marshal / Rules Official, a PDGA liaison to the USDGC, a PDGA liaison to the Deaf Disc Golf Association and hired as the PDGA executive director in 2007.
Graham also managed the Augusta Disc Golf Classic (PDGA SuperTour), the Disc Golf Hall of Fame (PDGA National Tour) and the United States Disc Golf Championship (PDGA Major) in addition to other major tournaments.
He also developed courses in Lake Olmstead Park in Augusta; Riverview Park in North Augusta; Patriots Park in Columbia, Ga.; Odell Weeks Park and Perry Park in Aiken, S.C.; and the PDGA International Disc Golf Center in Appling.
Graham was instrumental in the growth of the sport and was recently quoted as saying, “The Professional Disc Golf Association just got its 100,000th member a couple of weeks ago. It is growing at about 20 percent per year, which makes it one of the fastest growing sports in the world.”
Graham also created DiscGolfer magazine and started a charity tournament that raised a half million dollars for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
John Bird from Marysville, Calif., is widely seen as the most notable promoter and organizer of disc sports in Colorado in other areas. He created the United Flyers of Sonoma and was co-tournament director of the Nor-Cal IFA Tournament in 1976. Bird has designed or consulted in the development of more than a dozen disc golf courses in Colorado and the Mile-High Disc Golf Club.
“I distinctly remember the day I first had the pleasure and experience of throwing my first pluto platter,” he said. “I was walking through the neighborhood in west Marysville, California, when we came across two brothers in the neighborhood throwing a plastic disc back and forth to one another. It looked like a lot of fun and just by chance an errant throw landed by my feet and like anyone would do, I picked it up and flew it back to them. There was an immediate rush of excitement that I hadn’t experienced while throwing a ball. That was in 1960 and it wasn’t until about three years later that I would purchase my next Frisbee to get that feeling of excitement and pleasure from something so simple. From that time on I always carried a flying disc of some sort or had one somewhere close by.”
In 1970, Bird entered a distance throwing competition and won with a thumb throw with a distance of an estimated 210 feet.
For more information, visit www.pdga.com.