A Vision For More | USJDGC | Kids Disc Golf
Hi, my name is Matt Grayum. I'm the original founder of Kids Disc Golf. The following is the short version of how Kids Disc Golf and it's origins lead to the first ever United States Junior Disc Golf Championships!
In the spring of 2015 I found myself not being able to tell my 5 year old son, who LOVED disc golf, that he couldn’t compete because the tournaments and leagues didn’t offer a junior division (I had already told him numerous times over the previous year or two). He wanted to compete because at that time I was competing often at local leagues and tournaments. Even if the local tournaments did offer a junior division it was a division in which he would be competing by himself. So I took it upon myself to do something about this. I decided I would promote and run a tournament for kids. The first ever tournament for kids only, in my regional area, was about to happen. I didn’t have any experience running a disc golf tournament, let alone one specifically for kids.
Within a short time (4-5 weeks) I started planning, promoted, and ran successfully the first tournament for kids. We saw over 40 kids under the age of 12 show up and compete on a modified and shortened layout at a local private course (Pyramids DGC in Leicester, MA). I had a great support system in the local disc golf scene. I had numerous people reach out to help in any way. A local disc golf brand “Green Light Disc Golf” showed up and helped facilitate the field games! Everyone’s support was what helped motivate me from there on. Kids Disc Golf literally got its name because the first tournament we held was called a “Kids Disc Golf Tournament”. The following year we moved the location and did a bit more planning. I even had a poster printed up with what has now become our current logo. We saw nearly 70 kids show up and compete in a single round tournament! It was a true success thanks to all the parents and the volunteers! There was a true sense of fulfillment and a feeling that a movement was just beginning! Many others confirmed this feeling by reaching out and praising the success. All around the world we felt the support to keep going!
Our second tournament was called “The 2nd Annual Kids Disc Golf Tournament”. It was at this point I began to think that this could be so much more. That this could be something we could bring to kids everywhere! My older brother, Joshua Grayum, asked how he could help. He wanted to be a part. We partnered up and began planning out the next year and what it would look like. We ended up running not one, but TWO full state series championships. One was held in Massachusetts, my home state, and one was held in Maine (we felt there was a good disc golf scene up there that would appreciate the events). These state series consisted of multiple tournaments where players would qualify to compete in the State Championship! These events were successful and we crowned state champions! That year we ran a total of 10 Kids Disc Golf events!
During this time we were constantly making plans for trying to reach our goal of “providing premier competitive opportunities” to junior disc golfers everywhere, not just local. We had a 3-5 year plan of making a bid for a stand-alone Junior World Championship. It was that very same year that Dynamic Discs made the announcement that they would run the first ever stand-alone Junior World Championships! Well, we may not have planned and executed it, BUT we could check that goal off of our list. It was accomplished, we were glad to see this happen! With Worlds taken off the plate, we thought next to a United States title for junior disc golfers. This was when the idea to host the first ever United States Junior Disc Golf Championships (USJDGC) was born. In 2017 we brainstormed and planned for nearly 6 months before reaching out to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) with our idea. We wanted to ensure that the PDGA understood we appreciated and wanted their opinion and support. We had experience running junior specific events and a large following across the U.S. and world that would allow us to promote the event well. Jump ahead a few months from our initial conversation and we were awarded, by the PDGA, the opportunity to run the first ever United States Junior Disc Golf Championships. The first national junior disc golf titles would be awarded in 2018! We decided that Josh, my brother, would be best suited to be the tournament director for this US title event. We formed a team of great people and began meeting regularly to ensure that the USJDGC would be an experience unlike anything a disc golfer has had before. Smugglers’ Notch quickly rose to the top as the venue of choice. Disc golfers raved about this property (which included world class disc golfers) and the courses. The PDGA Professional World Championships were taking place during the same year on this property. The resort at Smugglers’ Notch is renowned as “Americas Family Resort” and the amenities that it offers are second to none! I mean, who doesn’t want to enjoy a water park, followed by challenging yourself on a huge ropes course, ending with a laser tag battle after spending some time in the new “Fun Zone”. You can do all of this without even leaving the resort property! Wow! A venue where families could enjoy a relaxing vacation after their child completed a single round of competitive disc golf during the day. This was our place!
We look forward to what this first U.S. title will bring. Since the first ever “Kids Disc Golf” tournament to what will be the first ever United States Junior Disc Golf Championships, we have the same passion to bring premier competitive opportunities to junior disc golfers! Stay tuned for more to come! We won’t stop! While so many supportive disc golfers say that "kids are the future", we like to say, "The future is now!" The time is now for everyone to rally behind the kids they know and get them involved in this great sport!