4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Fling that Frisbee — there's hundreds in it for you!

Carlsbad world champion

They call pro Frisbee golfer Paul McBeth “McBeast.”
They call pro Frisbee golfer Paul McBeth “McBeast.”

I have former world-champion disc-golfer, Frisbee pioneer, Carlsbad resident John Kirkland on the phone. Kirkland, 67, says, “I was there at the very beginning and I’m still doing it seven days a week.

“When I came on the scene there was no scene. Now, every college has an Ultimate team and there’s 2500 disc-golf courses around the planet. It’s growing like crazy. I won the world championships in disc golf in ’76. I’m a multi-time champion in many sports. Set world records in distance, maximum time aloft, won the overall...

“...Floridian who went to MIT. I started the MIT [Frisbee] team. I was doing half times for the basketball team and did some Celtics halftimes. I thought, This is the perfect venue, I get to show off, I’m indoor, there’s no wind. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could do this all the time? Then, I thought, The Globetrotters, wow, that would be perfect. So, I pitched them, flew my partner and myself into Chicago, gave them a demo, and they said, ‘Man, we’ve got to have you guys.’ So we did 200 cities in 180 days.

I break in, “You must have been a big deal at MIT.”

Kirkland laughs. “I was the only athlete. I’m sitting here looking at my MIT Athletic Association special achievement award, national Frisbee champion 1974. They only had two athletes when I was there. Me and a wrestler named Erland van Lidth de Jeude.

“I toured with the Globetrotters and played Frisbee all over the world. Then, in ’76, when I graduated, I moved to California. That’s where all the best Frisbee players were. Wham-O was in California.

“Frisbee really took off in the mid-’70s. The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) was formed in ’76, ’77. I lived in Del Mar for a couple years, went to Santa Barbara for ten years, moved around playing Frisbee. My wife and I played Frisbee. Then we had kids and now they play Frisbee.”

Hmm... I notice the crack in my coffee cup has gotten bigger. When did that happen? I move the cup away from my computer monitor with one hand, go to PDGA.com with the other. It’s a pro, very PGA kind of website. Screams “Corporate” at you. There are World Championships, Tour Majors, the National Tour. There are A-tier events, B-tier events. C-tier events, and X-tier events. Not forgetting PDGA women’s disc golf. We have Hall of Fame. We have PDGA shirts, headwear, birdie bags, PDGA patches, playing cards, stickers, not forgetting 200-plus golf-disc options ranging from 140g to 200g in weight, and a large selection of colors to brighten four types of discs (long-range driver, fairway driver, mid-range, putt, and approach). There are complete player stats, records, and history. Everything is slick, smooth, and the prize money is minuscule.

I say, “I’m looking at the Avery Jenkins [2009 world champion] profile. His 2013 winnings are $7000 plus. This year he’s won $1072. I know he’s running endorsements and clinics on the side, but to be a world champion and make seven grand is a little thin.”

Kirkland says, “Disc golf is sort of like what ball golf was in the late ’30s and early ’40s. You were doing it because you liked doing it.”

The Vegas Line

2014 Sprint Cup Championship

“Can you make a living at it?”

Kirkland says, “There’s some money to be had. The best player is a guy named Paul McBeth. They call him ‘McBeast.’ He’s won the last two world championships. He’s the highest-rated player ever. He’s a prototype of the new breed.”

I click over to McBeth’s page. “He’s played five tournaments so far, made $6582, on track to earn $20,000 for the year.”

Kirkland says, “Find the figures from last year. [McBeth earned $42,303 in 2013.] What that doesn’t count is how much Innova [a disc manufacturer] is paying him.”

“How many players are making $50,000 to $100,000, in total, off of everything they do? Just give me a guess.”

“Two or three.” Kirkland says, “You can’t make money at this sport, that’s not why you do it.... There is a tour, you play different golf courses, extremely good athletes are playing at a very high level.”

“How big is the disc-golf tour?”

“There’s probably 50 to 100 guys. There are a whole lot of competitive Frisbee players both amateur and professional, but when you’re talking about a tour, there’s probably a cadre of 50 people who go around and make it to every single tournament.

“I swear Frisbee golf follows ball golf in all respects. They’re really hoping it will follow in terms of remuneration.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Waiting for the San Diego Opera and Symphony on edge of my chair

Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Grant Still, Piazzolla, Vivaldi
Next Article

A lesson in spices at Ban Lao Cuisine

“It’s about heat, but also taste.”
They call pro Frisbee golfer Paul McBeth “McBeast.”
They call pro Frisbee golfer Paul McBeth “McBeast.”

I have former world-champion disc-golfer, Frisbee pioneer, Carlsbad resident John Kirkland on the phone. Kirkland, 67, says, “I was there at the very beginning and I’m still doing it seven days a week.

“When I came on the scene there was no scene. Now, every college has an Ultimate team and there’s 2500 disc-golf courses around the planet. It’s growing like crazy. I won the world championships in disc golf in ’76. I’m a multi-time champion in many sports. Set world records in distance, maximum time aloft, won the overall...

“...Floridian who went to MIT. I started the MIT [Frisbee] team. I was doing half times for the basketball team and did some Celtics halftimes. I thought, This is the perfect venue, I get to show off, I’m indoor, there’s no wind. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could do this all the time? Then, I thought, The Globetrotters, wow, that would be perfect. So, I pitched them, flew my partner and myself into Chicago, gave them a demo, and they said, ‘Man, we’ve got to have you guys.’ So we did 200 cities in 180 days.

I break in, “You must have been a big deal at MIT.”

Kirkland laughs. “I was the only athlete. I’m sitting here looking at my MIT Athletic Association special achievement award, national Frisbee champion 1974. They only had two athletes when I was there. Me and a wrestler named Erland van Lidth de Jeude.

“I toured with the Globetrotters and played Frisbee all over the world. Then, in ’76, when I graduated, I moved to California. That’s where all the best Frisbee players were. Wham-O was in California.

“Frisbee really took off in the mid-’70s. The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) was formed in ’76, ’77. I lived in Del Mar for a couple years, went to Santa Barbara for ten years, moved around playing Frisbee. My wife and I played Frisbee. Then we had kids and now they play Frisbee.”

Hmm... I notice the crack in my coffee cup has gotten bigger. When did that happen? I move the cup away from my computer monitor with one hand, go to PDGA.com with the other. It’s a pro, very PGA kind of website. Screams “Corporate” at you. There are World Championships, Tour Majors, the National Tour. There are A-tier events, B-tier events. C-tier events, and X-tier events. Not forgetting PDGA women’s disc golf. We have Hall of Fame. We have PDGA shirts, headwear, birdie bags, PDGA patches, playing cards, stickers, not forgetting 200-plus golf-disc options ranging from 140g to 200g in weight, and a large selection of colors to brighten four types of discs (long-range driver, fairway driver, mid-range, putt, and approach). There are complete player stats, records, and history. Everything is slick, smooth, and the prize money is minuscule.

I say, “I’m looking at the Avery Jenkins [2009 world champion] profile. His 2013 winnings are $7000 plus. This year he’s won $1072. I know he’s running endorsements and clinics on the side, but to be a world champion and make seven grand is a little thin.”

Kirkland says, “Disc golf is sort of like what ball golf was in the late ’30s and early ’40s. You were doing it because you liked doing it.”

The Vegas Line

2014 Sprint Cup Championship

“Can you make a living at it?”

Kirkland says, “There’s some money to be had. The best player is a guy named Paul McBeth. They call him ‘McBeast.’ He’s won the last two world championships. He’s the highest-rated player ever. He’s a prototype of the new breed.”

I click over to McBeth’s page. “He’s played five tournaments so far, made $6582, on track to earn $20,000 for the year.”

Kirkland says, “Find the figures from last year. [McBeth earned $42,303 in 2013.] What that doesn’t count is how much Innova [a disc manufacturer] is paying him.”

“How many players are making $50,000 to $100,000, in total, off of everything they do? Just give me a guess.”

“Two or three.” Kirkland says, “You can’t make money at this sport, that’s not why you do it.... There is a tour, you play different golf courses, extremely good athletes are playing at a very high level.”

“How big is the disc-golf tour?”

“There’s probably 50 to 100 guys. There are a whole lot of competitive Frisbee players both amateur and professional, but when you’re talking about a tour, there’s probably a cadre of 50 people who go around and make it to every single tournament.

“I swear Frisbee golf follows ball golf in all respects. They’re really hoping it will follow in terms of remuneration.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Park & Rec’s loving cup

Get Ur Freak On uses El Silencio mezcal cut with Real del Valle tequila
Next Article

"Meet every moment as a friend, and don’t try to change things"

That is what the ocean has taught me.
Comments
1

Its called Disc Golf... Thank you for this midly insulting article about a sport trying to grow its numbers. You havent helped the sport at all. I guess its a good thing no one reads the Reader so it wont really matter. I only stopped because of Pauls photo. He's an amazing Disc golfer with impecible form and accuracy. Blow this article out your ass.

May 16, 2014

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close