The frisbee world lost it’s founding father this week. “Steady” Ed (PDGA #001) Headrick died on Wednesday 12th August 2002.

“Steady” Ed touched the lives of millions of people from around the world. He was the father of frisbee and disc golf. He dedicated his life to spreading the joy and fun of the frisbee game and especially disc golf. His vision, enthusiasm and selflessness has given us a way of life that will endure until we come to the last disc golf hole.

For those of you who are not old timers, “Steady” Ed invented the Wham-O Pro Model frisbee in 1964, founded the IFA in 1969, the WFC Rose Bowl events in 1974, hired Dan “Stork” Roddick in 1975, invented the Disc Pole Hole and created the DGA in 1976. He installed nearly 800 disc golf courses in 20 countries. He was a husband and father of 4 children.

Here are some of his achievements:

  • Inventor of the sport of Disc Golf
  • Inventor of the first disc golf basket, the Disc Pole Hole
  • Designed and Installed the first Disc Golf course
  • Inventor of the modern day Frisbee
  • Founded: The International Frisbee Association (IFA)
  • Founded: Disc Golf Association (DGA),
  • Founded: Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) and
  • Founded: Recreational Disc Golf Association (RDGA).
  • Established and organized the first World Frisbee Championships and the Junior World Frisbee Championships.
  • Established the first Disc Golf tournaments and a $50,000 landmark Frisbee Disc Golf Tournament in 1979.
  • Donated his trademark “Disc Golf” to the public domain and his life to the sport he loved.

I was lucky enough to meet him in 1985 at the World Flying Disc Federation organised first “World Championships” held outside of the United States, in Helsingborg, Sweden, he was Mr. Frisbee and will always be!

Steady’s ashes will be moulded into a limited number of memorial flying discs…. How cool is that!

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The Horizontal Hombres were the most successful UK Ultimate team in the 80s, winning the outdoor national championships 10 years in a row and the indoor nationals for 5 consecutive years, including reaching the final with both squads at the Oxford venue in the mid 80s. They competed at the top level at World Club championships and many European Tournaments.

The Horizontal Hombres went to become Shotgun which eventually became Clapham Ultimate, at team which has dominated the UK Ultimate scene for the last 14 years which means it’s now the UK team, not the Swedes or Canadians, who are pushing the Americans at Worlds (Team GB were runners up in 2012 and are now ranked world N°2.

Their team disc back in the early 80s was a Wham-O 82E mould, these were the days before Discraft and their now standard 175g model.

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The 1995 World Ultimate Club Championships were held in the UK at Millfield School in Street, Somerset. A total of 62 teams, across three division took part. Once again, the USA dominated all divisions, taking the first 5 places in the Open draw.

Shotgun was the highest placed GB entry out of all 8 open division entries, whilst Bliss came 8th in the Women’s division ahead of Twin Peaks & Weird Alice.

The tournament disc was the new (at the time) Wham-O Tool Frisbee, designed & manufactured to compete with the stablished Discraft 175grm Ultimate disc, the fact that the Wham-O Tool is no longer around is not really a surprise, it wasn’t adopted by the ultimate playing community and soon into the event’s first round games teams were opting out from using the official tournament disc.

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London’s Horizontal Hombres Ultimate team UK dominance not only run for over 10 years on the outdoor fields, but they also had a good run indoors.

Back in the day (Can’t really remember when) both Hombres teams entered (A & 1) managed to reach the UK National Indoor Ultimate Championships final held in Oxford. This was the first time any team had done this and I believe it has never been repeated.

The Hombres won a total of 5 national indoor titles in a row.

Back in the day, NY-NY Ultimate team dominated the US & World scene. Kenny Dobbins was in charge… and this is why

I have a copy of the first, commercially produce, Frisbee disc golf PC game. Created by Head Games and endorsed by Wham-O, this quite basic computer game invited you to play Elmwood Park, South Beach, Red Canyon & Crane City Park golf courses, each with its own city, tropical island or desert theme.

The overview quotes ‘This game plays just like real golf, except rather than using balls & clubs, you play with a flying disc and pole holes! Well… Just like real disc golf, then!

Apparently it runs on Windows 95/98 if that’s still running!

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If you were a serious disc player in the 70s and early 80s, your business card would have had to be a Wham-O mini Frisbee, printed, paper cards just didn’t do!

Here are 4 classic examples:

Victor Malafronte: 2 times World Frisbee Champion and holder of many World Records as well as a member of the Frisbee Hall of Fame, Victor is a real Frisbee legend, and Disc Golf pioneer… don’t take my word for it, just watch this

UFOs Freestyle Team (Corey Basso & Evan David): Evan David and Corey Basso reset the standard of play when it came to freestyle Frisbee. They were considered two of the best players ever.

Jonathon Harries: Faulkner Sports had the licence to manufacture Wham-O frisbees in the UK back on the 70s & 80s, Not sure I ever met Jonathon, but I have his calling card… May give him a call and see if he still plays Frisbee!

Rick Castiglia (Coloradicals): Started playing in 1977 and competing in 1978, winner of 10 major titles and member of the Coloradical Frisbee Freestyle team, again, don’t take my word for it, watch this 1988 Santa Barbara footage

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Ron Kaufman is quite famous in the world of corporate things… He’s also quite famous in the world of Frisbee things too.

In 1976, Kaufman founded Discovering the World as a mail-order operation selling flying disc sport equipment, which is now a store in Buena Park, CA, and an online outfit specialising in Disc Golf, Ultimate Frisbee, and all other flying disc sports equipment. Kaufman then planned a national series of Frisbee Disc and Hackysack Footbag Festivals with Wham-O company sponsorship.

Between 1985 and 1990, Kaufman used Frisbee as a means of citizen diplomacy. Part of this mission was the creation of World Peace Tours, based in La Jolla, CA, to organise Frisbee Flying Friendship Tours to the People’s Republic of China. These tours included Frisbee demonstrations, festivals, and tournaments to cities around the world. Kaufman also led Youth Ambassadors of America tours to the Soviet Union. Kaufman stated that the purpose of the China and the Soviet Union tours was to “to break down the walls of misunderstanding.” As Kaufman recounts, “How can you drop a bomb on somebody you’ve gone skateboarding with down the Great Wall of China or played Frisbee with in Red Square?”

During the 1980s, Kaufman served as the Master of Ceremonies for the World Frisbee Disc Championships at the Rose Bowl in California.

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The first ever Disc Golf tournament in Europe took place in September 1979 at Hanger Hill Park, London. Sadly the course is no longer there but these commemorative micro discs remain in my collection.

I believe the course was only 9 holes and was set up by The Ally Pally Tossers (APT). The West London Park was ideal for disc golf, challenging elevated tees, including one hole where you had to tee off from the top of a children’s playground climbing frame!

Micro discs were much smaller than the official Wham-O Mini, they didn’t really fly, but are very collectable.

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Samurai Ultimate team, from Bristol, was one of the pioneering teams in the UK. The competed a the highest level in England & Europe, winning several tournaments, many of their team members were regular National team players, taking part in European & World Championships… They also knew how to party!

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