Wednesday was about as slow a sports day as I've had since, well, since last year about this time. You know, when school sports end and bleed into summer sports and everyone is anxiously awaiting the fast-approaching fall.
Bottom line is, I needed a story. There are still print pages and web pages to fill, after all. And you, our readers and customers, still deserve coverage of all the local happenings, including sports, even when our primary sports are in their off-season.
So I grabbed the iPad and camera and told her editress, Sara Vanden Berge, I was heading to the park to seek out a disc golfer or two. I admit I wasn't excited about it. My work thrills come from beating press time after a back-and-forth basketball battle between Tarleton and Midwestern, and in seeing well produced Sunday pages after Stephenville slams Brownwood in football on a Friday night. Disc golf, I thought, falls much lower on the thrills list.
Then I met Darrell Bailey. Now, I'm on the prowl for my own set of discs, or clubs, if you will.
Driving through the park, I was quickly losing patience. It was the middle of the day, and most people typically seen throwing discs in the park during the evening hours were still at work. I circled the back of the park, noticed Splashville was rockin', saw some joggers, even a couple folks enjoying a nice quiet lunch in the great outdoors. But no disc golfers.
Finally, as I wound around to the front of the park and looked back across the Bosque just a bit down from the Birdsong Amphitheater, I spotted him. Quickly, before he could get away and I was left to return to the office empty-handed and in search of a backup plan, I spun the car around, navigated to the closest parking spot I could get to the disc golfer, grabbed my equipment and jumped out.
Much to my surprise, Mr. Bailey recognized me even before I introduced myself. And I quickly learned this Erath County gentleman loved to talk disc golf. How lucky I was.
And not only does Bailey talk disc golf, he sells it like a pro. Heck, he sold me on it for sure.
Bailey talked about all the typical positives of having a disc golf course close to home - opportunities for exercise, getting out in the sun, playing a round much quicker than a round of real golf, etc. But he also brought up some things I hadn't thought of, such as disc golf being a crime deterrent. More people out and about in the park, less opportunity to get away with any number of crimes - damage to property, the sell of illicit/illegal drugs and whatever else criminals have in mind. It's a simple numbers game.
During and after my conversation with Bailey I learned Schreiber Foods - the "cheese plant" for those of you who know it as such - helped provide the "holes" (I understand the metal poles, baskets and chains are quite expensive). Shreiber employee Frank Hebert was one of the guys who got heavily involved, along with, according to Hebert himself, Will Mayfield and Stephenville Community Services Director Drew Wells.
Together, with the blessing of the Stephenville City Council, they brought disc golf to town. And it looks like the sport will catch on sooner rather than later, much to the satisfaction of a gentleman like Bailey.
Hebert shared the above facts and more with me by email. He even told me a club has been formed to help run disc golf events, such as weekly minis and both sanctioned and unsanctioned tournaments.
Later Wednesday, when I posted a link to my story, 'It's Basically Like Golf,' on Twitter, I was contacted by my good buddy Andy Newberry, the sports editor of the Wichita Falls Times Record News. At first, I thought he was teasing me, poking fun at the poor sports guy writing about disc golf on a slow day. But as our retweets, replies and direct messages continued, I learned he plays the game quite a bit up in North Texas, and may even stop through our city park for a round next time a Lone Star Conference sporting event brings him to the Ville.
By the end of the day Wednesday, I still had not thrown a disc at a 'hole,' but I was sold on going out and playing a round. Who knows, it could be the beginning of a new hobby, perhaps even a passion.
At the very least, once sports for the Sunday paper are complete - I'm almost done 'her editress,' I promise - I plan on jumping online and finding the best deal possible on a set of discs.
After talking with Bailey, tweeting with Newberry and reading the email from Hebert, I recommend you do the same.