What makes the Stanley Cup the most famous trophy in sports? Why is it not something like the Lombardi trophy, given to the Super Bowl Champion? Why is it not the NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion awarded to the most watched college sporting event of the year, March Madness?
The answer is the same as to what makes the North Carolina Disc Golf Champion trophy so unique; there is only one of them. If you want it, you have to win it. And if you want it again, you have to defend it; there is not a new one for the winner next year.
Designed and built by Steve Lambert in 1990, the trophy represents one of the more historic states in our sport and is awarded annually to the Professional who represents superior play not only for larger events, but consistently throughout the year. Dating back to 1977, the way the North Carolina Disc Golf Champion has been awarded, much like the sport, has changed and grown.
Originally started by Disc Golf Hall of Famer Carlton Howard, the champion was selected at a single event, the North Carolina Flying Disc Championships in Raleigh. The event was held at a temporary course near NC State University and shortly after moved to Cedar Hills park. This single event led to the champions being awarded until 1992.
As the game grew, more and more events were popping up throughout the country. The Professional Disc Association (PDGA) began having volunteers schedule events within their region and ultimately their state. This new position, the State Coordinator, was tasked with communication with all Tournament Directors. Hall of Famer Alan Beaver was elected to this position first and expanded this single event for the title into a series.
Beaver started the series in the winter of 1993 and began awarding the trophy based on consistent play; players would earn points at assigned events throughout the year. The goal was to encourage more travel throughout North Carolina and events overtime have been on the coast, in the mountains and everywhere in-between.
In the pre-internet age, points were done manually by Beaver at the conclusion of events and then Howard would tally and track them within excel documents. Beaver would print them and post them at events within the series. When Beaver no longer was the coordinator, new state coordinator Kirk Yoo continued the process and kept the series alive. After him, Mike Norris and Robert Leonard continued the tradition throughout their times as state coordinator.
There are currently six disc golf hall of famers (Beaver, Howard, Stan McDaniel, Tom Monroe, Johnny Sias and Barry Schultz), two world champions (Schultz and Sias), three amatuer world champions (Ken Tyburski [Amateur Masters], Justin Jernigan and David Wiggins, Jr.) who have won the title. When you combine their resumes with players like Brian Schweberger, Larry Leonard, Walter Haney, Greg Williams, Terry Gallops, Nathan Queen and others, you quickly see that the who’s who of disc golf have all owned this trophy at one point in their career.