For this installment I got the chance to speak with local WATDG co-creator and all around good guy, Chris Gilberts! He was a pleasure to talk to and is an information hub about all things Disc Golf related in the PNW. Check it out and enjoy!
1) How did you get into disc golf?
I started playing golf in May of 2001. I was working with Terry Surrat and he took me to Fort Steillicoom after work one Sunday, I believe it was Mothers day. I was hooked immediately and started playing Steilly….. a lot!
2) What is WATDG?
WATDG is Washington Team Disc Golf. WATDG is a fundraiser disc golf league that is designed to give the “doers” of disc golf an opportunity to play winter golf. It is a handicapped league with a rating system that allows any caliber of players to play each other on a fair playing field. We literally have some of the best golfers in the world, and the worst, and they can play against each other with the outcome often coming down to one or two strokes. That makes it really fun for the players.
One of the ways that sets us apart from other team golf leagues is that we reward the doers of DG, by not just fielding teams of the best players, but fielding teams from the people that are actually doing the work. The other thing that sets us apart is the fundraiser aspect. We charge a small fee, $270 per team, which breaks down to about $30 per player for the 8 event season. All of the money that comes in, goes back out to the DG community where it’s needed. We have made donations in the form of baskets, materials, and equipment, to all of the courses that host WATDG events and even some that don’t!
WATDG has donated well over $10,000.00 to Western Washington disc golf courses and clubs.
3) How did WATDG get its start?
WATDG was conceived in 2009 in a car ride to Port Angeles. Eric Lund and myself we’re driving up there for a fundraiser tourney at the brand new Lincoln Park DGC. We started talking about the Oregon Team Golf league that Jordan Lewis was running. I really liked some of the things they were doing and I had some ideas on how to make it more beneficial to the WA, DG community.
The next week, I contacted Jordan, he was more than willing to share info with me. It couldn’t have been more than a week later that I started contacting the course leaders that became the original 6 captains.
4) How do you decide who gets on what team?
I have very little say on who actually plays. I leave that up to the captains to decide their teams. With the rewarding the doers concept, its way more practical for the people that are doing the work at each of the courses to know who else is doing the work there.
5) What can players do to help their local course?
There are many ways to help out your course and there are many layers of involvement. To me, the most obvious would be as simple as picking up trash and keeping the course clean. You can show up to work parties. You can support club events like doubles and putting leagues. You can show up to meetings and run for a board position. You can run club events. These are the obvious answers but the thing that I find really helps a club and course thrive are people that bring their own skillsets to the table. For instance, we have a guy that is into woodworking, he donates his time making tee signs, trophies, bag tags. We have another guy in our local club that is into BBQ, every time we have a club event, he donates his time smoking pork. It saves the club a ton of money on food and it beats the hell out of grilled burgers and dogs for every event! So at the end of the day, bring whatever skill set you have or what ever resources you can offer to support the local club and course.
6) What is your favorite disc?
If I have to choose just one, it would be a well seasoned First Run Star Destroyer. I usually carry at least three in my bag.
7) What is your favorite course?
There are some great courses out there and I like them all for different reasons, but Lucky Mud DGC is probably my favorite destination course. The property is amazing, the owners of the property are really great people and I have a lot of great memories playing golf/ events there over the years. I have to throw a shout out to Steilly though, I learned to play golf there and it is definitely one the greats of the NW. And who can forget Milo?!?!
8) Could you ever see other states playing their own team disc golf and growing into a national competition?
Absolutely! We have grown WATDG from 6 teams in 2010, to 28 teams in 2017, to potentially 32 teams in 2018! We have some amazing people organizing WATDG and growing the league at a pace that we can control has been one of the most important aspects of what we are doing. We never want to let growing get in the way of the whole reason we do this, and that is to reward the doers of the sport, but as fast as disc golf is growing it is important for us to grow along with it.
9) How much does volunteering come into play when it comes to deciding who gets on what team?
It is the most important factor! It doesn’t matter how good of a golfer you are, it matters how much time you put into your local course and club. That is the bottom line. If you want to play WATDG, get involved with a club and a course. Also, be patient, just because you got involved this year and are doing a lot, doesn’t mean you automatically get on a team, there are people that have been doing it for years! Stick with it and eventually you will be rewarded. The best case scenario is that there are more doers at the course than room for them on the team, that just means we add more teams and more divisions!
10) What if I have two home courses, how do I decide which one I want to be on?
The beauty of disc golf is that we are still a small enough community that word gets around. If you are doing work on two courses, people notice and you will end up on the team that needs you most.
11) Is there anything else you would like to say?
There have been some great people involved with getting WATDG to where it is today. Eric lund, Morgan Rothrock, Jub, Bill Winkler, Rick Gill, and Kenny Benjamin, all have been critical in their own way, but none as important as Sam Huff. Sam has been there from the beginning and has streamlined our rating system, player handicapping, score report sheets. He is responsible for all of the data entry and keeping track of the website and standings updates. He runs so much stuff behind the scenes and keeps me on track and in line, it is no exaggeration to say that WATDG would not be where it is today without Sam Huff!
I would like ot thank Chris for taking time out of his day to be interviewed by me and be a part of this hometown heroes series. If you would like to know more about Chris then you can find him on social media. Be on the lookout for more articles and hometown heroes coming soon!
picture credit goes to Chris Gilberts