This is the second of a two-part series about DGCourseReview.com. The first part ran last Friday.
By Steve Hill — Rattling Chains staff
Relative to other sports, disc golf is still in its infancy. It does not have a long history, nor does it boast a mainstream following. For every person who plays the sport, there are likely five more who have never heard of it.
For players who become quickly addicted to the game, then, there is a void. While they would like to spend all day and night talking about all things disc-related, there are likely few other friends or family members who have any shared interest.
It is this lack of local conversation that leads many players to the discussion forums at DGCourseReview.com (DGCR). With nearly 35,000 registered users, they are bound to find someone with whom they can click.
The New Social Network
Site founder Tim Gostovic has created multiple forums for discussion within DGCR. A byproduct of his efforts, though, has been multiple strong relationships founded and maintained through the site.
“DGCR has built a lot of friendships and there are member meets happening all over the country,” Gostovic said. “It’s really great to see the photos of people that might not have otherwise gotten together hanging out and enjoying the sport. I actually regularly play disc golf with a friend I met through the site.”
Members can unite by posting threads in the site’s dedicated DGCR Meets subforum, or through simply finding someone in their neck of the woods and sending them a private message.
Ryan Glasshagel of New Glarus, Wisconsin, has taken the latter approach and played with about ten fellow DGCR members.
“I consider DGCR my Facebook,” Glasshagel said. “I spend more time on there than any other site on the Internet. I have met some great people on the site that I would consider friends.”
For Glasshagel, it has been all about finding like-minded individuals to throw a round with.
“I have no friends close to me who are freaks about the sport like I am, and DGCR gives me that outlet,” he said. “I have met a few locals on the site and play with them all the time. I would never have met these guys if not through this site.”
Other members have used the site to coordinate meetings with fellow players while on road trips.
“I have had the chance to meet up with some DGCRers on my travels over the years,” said Mukilteo, Washington resident John Stengele. “One of my more memorable moments was when I had the chance to meet up with a Southern California man who goes by the name snappyfingers on DGCR.”
Snappyfingers takes time to show travelers around Oak Grove Park in Pasadena, California — home of the world’s first disc golf course.
According to Stengele, snappyfingers’ passion for the sport, and for its first course, is an experience all should be able to enjoy.
“His enthusiasm made me feel like it was the first time he had shown someone his local courses, even though I knew better,” Stengele said.
But it wasn’t just this one fellow member with whom Stengele has found great energy for disc golf.
“People on DGCR are passionate about the sport and are excited to meet other people who share in their excitement,” he said. “This is what makes this site so unique — its ability to help people connect in a way we never thought possible and allowing us to do it all for love of the game.”
Some players take the love part of it a whole other level, though.
“Through DGCR I’ve met and become good friends with many strangers from the Internet I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” said Dave Allen of Climax, North Carolina. “I’ve even officiated the wedding of one such person, all thanks to DGCR.”
Another member, Jerry Honis of Lexington Park, Maryland, has organized three Mid-Atlantic meets, where members come together for food, drinks, and, of course, rounds of disc golf.
While bringing together many site members may sound difficult, Honis has fellow members who cook, bring dyed discs for prizes, and generally help run things smoothly.
“I guess it’s real easy when you can assemble a good supporting cast,” he said.
Honis also counts his best friend as another player he met through the forums.
“He has become my best friend, and my fiancee has built a strong relationship with his wife,” Honis said. “His daughter has begun calling my fiancee and I her ‘other parents’ and we both love her dearly.”
The member Honis has cultivated such a strong friendship with is Clinton, Maryland native William Safford, who goes by the moniker prerube on the DGCR forums.
Safford, over the years, has gained fame as one of the site’s more polarizing figures because of his propensity for encouraging the use of the site’s search feature. When a new discussion thread is posted about a topic that has been covered numerous times, Safford will often post a response that links to the prior discussions, highlighting the fact that new threads will clutter the forums with redundant information.
In time, the term “prerube” came to be used as a verb, meaning — roughly — to use the search feature effectively.
Some users, even those who are relatively new to the site, will often qualify their posts with something along the lines of, “I searched for this already, so don’t preube me,” but Safford sees value in what he does.
“When I first started to ‘prerube’ people, there were only 3,000 threads,” he said. “There are now three or four times that many threads, so the search feature is getting harder to use for the average DGCR user.”
There are multitudes of users who object to Safford’s posts, taking them as disrespectful rather than useful and claiming that, as an open discussion forum, people should be able to post what they want when they want.
Honis, though, feels like too much negative attention is thrust on his friend.
“The ‘don’t prerube me, man’ stuff has always been misunderstood,” Honis said. “I dare anyone to find a post where prerube himself posted a command to ‘search first’ without providing anything else that wasn’t productive and helpful.”
And for every user who doesn’t see eye to eye with Safford’s logic in keeping the forums efficient, there are many more — 118 more, to be exact — who support him as part of the Official Prerube Fan Club.
“My wife thinks it’s hilarious that a mediocre disc golfer has a fan club with more than 100 members,” Safford said.
And, to his credit, Safford sees his level of DGCR fame, so to speak, as a positive. In fact, he has become somewhat of a site historian, posting yearly recaps about DGCR’s memorable moments.
“I actually love it. I have become the search feature’s assistant,” he said. “I get personal messages from people asking me to find specific posts or threads, and they are very grateful when I can find them.”
DGCR’s Greatest Hits
The search guru himself pitched in to help point out one of the more indelible threads in DGCR history, “Stolen Bag and Discs on Ebay?” in which the community came together to solve a mystery.
“A group of DGCR users played detective, searching Craigslist and pawn shops in their area, as well as keeping an eye out on ebay, until the bag was recovered,” Safford said. “They went above and beyond to help out a fellow disc golfer, just like they did for the Joplin tornadoes. DGCR is filled with generous disc golfers.”
While other threads don’t always offer this level of suspense or intrigue, there are plenty that provide entertainment beyond just finding out how to add distance to your drives or which plastic is the best for a specific disc mold.
What follows is a smattering of DGCR’s greatest hit.
- You Know You’re Addicted to DG When… For those golfers who get bit by the bug quicker than others, here is the thread in which to commiserate. Whether it is discussing what non-disc objects have been used for putting practice or showing off a basket made when the boss is away, this thread has it covered.
- Worst Customer Service from Marshall Street While not providing the sunshine and rainbows of other threads, this one was certainly unique. With the original poster upset over a recent order with Marshall Street Disc Golf, the thread soon devolved into a back and forth between the dissatisfied customer and fervent Marshall Street supporters. The end result? A disc melting on a stove, and a competing Marshall Street is the Best! thread.
- The Dye a Day Thread (Parts I & II) and Stamp a Day Thread both provide plenty of eye candy for those who want to drool over the artistic side of the sport. With stories provided by the artists about the inspiration for their designs, it offers an inside look at the visual presence of flying discs.
- I Have Your Frisbee! Perhaps the most entertaining DGCR thread tells the story of a site member who received an email from a woman who inherited his lost disc from her ex-boyfriend. The new owner would then send email updates with the disc on various adventures, including anything from swimming in the ocean to rock climbing. And while the thread sometimes veers into fantasy and excessive speculation, the disc’s original owner is still receiving updates as to its whereabouts and keeping readers on the edge of their proverbial seats.
Even if these kinds of threads aren’t what disc golfers initially are looking for when they find DGCR, many end up sticking around, making for a diverse, lively community.
“All sorts of people seem welcome,” Allen said. “And it’s the camaraderie with fellow disc golfers that keeps them coming back.”
Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.