Napa Disc Club History
I was moving to Napa in the Fall of 1994, having been a native of Southern California and La Mirada as my home course I wanted a Disc Golf course in the city I lived in, so the hunt began. I went to every park in Napa, many were not much bigger than the lot of a family home, only 3 were any good, Alston, Westwood Hills and Kennedy. I went to the city and found that Alston was not an option and when I proposed the idea of Disc Golf at Kennedy they liked the idea and wanted to move forward. The problem with Kennedy was the lack of trees and the flatness of the course.
During this time I came across Skyline Wilderness Park, being in the county it was not listed as a park on any of the info I had used to locate parks, only city parks listed, you would think the city would promote a 900 acre park. So I attended a few board meetings to learn more about the Skyline Park Citizens Board and was put on the agenda to ask that we could hold a weekend tournament and it was approved.
Needing a Name and knowing the history of flying disc sports ( that early contests were overall events ) I used the Name Napa Disc Club to include all disc competitions.
February 1995 was the first Vintage Cup held in the lower part of the park, it was a PDGA event and part of the Nor-Cal series and has been ever since. Later that year at Skyline I also was the TD for the Nor-Cal series finals using a expanded 24 hole lay out. The board as a “temporary course” approved all of this.
The format for the next 2 years were very much the same as in ‘95, only being an Am event, one big change in 1997 was the event was held in September, I used the cook shack as tournament central as well as the lower part of the park for the course.
The change to come was after the 1997 event I asked the park manager Lavon (still there today) to make it a year round course for play. I was surprised when he sent me out to where the course is now, asking me if the area would work, you bet! The next year was spent raising money for targets and tee signs and figuring the layout. We had significant opposition from the horsemen’s association who really saw the park as a horsemen’s park. They had grave concerns about flying discs circling their horse rides on the trails. I quickly learned that if we were to be able to put in a course that lasted I needed to join the park board and volunteer to make the overall park a success. At that time the Skyline Board had managed the park for over 35 years, many of them older and seeking younger folks who would keep the park going. Fortunate for us, Park President Mylon Pitman age 85 saw the value in young folks starting new opportunities and was welcoming to me. He helped me through the opposition of the horsemen and he passed away three years ago, he was a friend to the Napa Disc Golf Course. I remember explaining to Mylon what the sport was and how it was growing in the US.
I was fortunate in that my wife was a member of the Napa Chamber of Commerce so using that list I sent out 1000 letters to local businesses to sponsor each tee. My kids were young and helped me lick all the stamps to send out the letters. We continued with the NorCal event and 1998 was the first year as a Pro/Am event. This is the first year the Skyline Board decides to have a disc golf representative serve on the board and I served from that time to today.
In the 1999 tournament we had 110 players and 3 aces, both record highs for the event up to that point. I served as TD, my wife figured the payouts and my kids worked the cook shack. In 2000 the horse circle was tournament central, I set up a large tarp for sunshade, the idea was so that folks had a shorter walk on and off the course. In 2000 the park was having significant money challenges and as a family we decided to donate our 1957 T Bird in an auction. We sold tickets for $100 each locally and through the national T Bird Association and raised $27K for Skyline which kept the park and course afloat during difficult financial times. We had our awards ceremony at Downtown Joes, that year was also a trend we did for a few years of giving a ostrich egg to the DFL player. Scott Riley and Geoff Lissaman had each won 3 in a row in Open and Master. The Napa Disc Golf Hall Of Fame was started.
In 2001 we updated the t-signs with all the pin locations, we started the trail work you see today by paying the California Conservation Corps was hired to help with some of this work., this is also the year the kiosk starts selling discs. Skyline adds a photo of a disc golfer to its pamphlets. We were officially a part of the park, now it was the Marth Walker Garden, Archers, Horsemen and the Napa Disc Club.
Skyline Wilderness Park Disc Golf course is on the cover of the Spring 2002 Disc Golf World News, I had sent them a article on what I learned building trails but they did not care for the article but they liked the photos I sent, kind of of bittersweet! This is also the year we did the first Ball Golf Disc Golf Challenge at Vintner’s Golf Club in Yountville to raise awareness of the sport.
In 2003 the park starts keeping track of park users Disc Golf is the second largest user group next to hikers, this has been the case to this day! This is also the year Economy becomes our full time sponsor giving the extra $500 needed to be a B tier event. The best that I can tell April 2003 is when I started the weekly event and the Napa club begins. 2003 is the first time using the social hall for Vintage Cup. This is when the Disc Museum and the chili tradition is started. 2003 is the first year that a disc golfer gets on the Board at the park besides a representative, Shannon Howard was Secretary for 2 years.
In 2004 we got rubber mats from a grant from Community Projects that my wife helped me write. and did our first Bag Tags. June 2004 was our second Ball Golf Disc Golf challenge at the Napa Golf course at Kennedy, for the next month we had our weeklies there and it looked good to get a second Napa course on a Ball Golf course, unfortunately the manager moved on and it did not pan out but tons of fun in 2004! After 10 years of being TD for Vintage Cup 2004 I decided it was my last year. We maee up Bag Tags with the 2004 logo. This is also the year that I laid out the second course on the Archery Range so that we would have 2 18 hole courses, this was the result of becoming good friends with Larry Pyle who at the time was President of the Archer’s Association.
In 2005 Dave Malo takes over as TD with the help of Craig Pyle and Chris White, this is the first year of a full color disc and we are back at the cook shack for tournament central. The date for Vintage Cup is moved back to the spring. Dave starts a tradition of homemade trophies.
Once again in 2006 through 2008 Dave, Craig and Chris run the show, 2007 Dallas starts his multi winning ways more than any other player in Tournament history. At this time I start moving to serve more actively on the Skyline Board to cement our spot in the Park, I served as Treasurer for two years and Secretary for two years as a constant relationship with all the associations at the park is important.
In 2009 there were 126 players, Chris Parsons is TD with Craig Pyle’s help through 2011, high winds and rain result in 19 DNF, that is even more that when playing the tournament in the hot summer! This one year ( 2009 ) we also used the Arm Farm as a second course for the event. This year Ryan Paul did his Eagle Scout project by redesigning and installing new T-Signs as well as doing several erosion projects.
In 2012 Gary Jacque is the TD with Craig Pyle’s help, this is the year of the first cement T-box as well as the first wooden boxes used on the temp course. Again the funds for the cement T box as well as the wooden boxes were a result of another grant I wrote and was granted from Napa Community Projects. Matt Browne is the star and continues to be in charge of installation of the cement T pads and T Boxes. Getting the horsemen to agree to “permanent T’s” is a collaborative effort that we call in from our friend the archers and others who want diversification at the park. This helps save funds in the Napa Disc Club account for what we designated for T Boxes when we got the funds elsewhere.
In 2013 Craig Pyle becomes TD, Gary becomes Craig’s main support. The event moves to a 27 hole per day layout. In 2014, I solicit my son Curtis and his wife Renee to come and join the board. Curtis serves as the Disc Golf Representative and Renee serves as Secretary, as a result they work to add 9 holes in the lower part of the park. The park elders are glad to see another generation that will ensure the continuation of the park and Napa Disc Golf expands.
Over the years Mr. Neal , my mentor, only missed 2 years one because of surgery and the other a disc golf vacation. Many people helped over the years, we had many work party/tournaments as well as many pass renewal events, I hosted 5 years of Worlds Biggest Disc Golf events as well as offering Disc Golf through Park and Rec, The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have had many Disc Golf events over the years. Many hours of reseeding and soil management have been done as well as countless hours donated to help with any project at the park. Writing grants with Napa Community Projects, the Napa Chamber database and my wife’s company Paul Hanson Partners has been a huge financial supporter of the course. At the end of the day and after 21 years the course at Skyline is cemented as a permanent course, it continues to expand and the Napa Disc Club continues to get new members all interested in continuing the sport on a national stage in the Napa Valley, my home.