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November 10th, 2009

Official BCDGA History

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BUCKS COUNTY WHITETAILS DISC GOLF CLUB, THE FLYING SQUIRRELS DISC SPORTS CLUB & THE BCDGA.

First there were the Whitetails

The Bucks County Whitetails Disc Golf Club was formed in December of 1992. Dave Pucher approached Joe Mela and Scott Murray and asked if they would be interested in forming a Disc Golf Club. Joe would serve as President, Dave as Secretary, and Scott as Treasurer. The three quickly recruited friends Don “Taz” Marshall, Sherman Davis and Tom Potts to join. After the tragic death in 1991 of their friend and fellow Disc Golfer Eric C. Yetter, they decided to honor his memory by forming a club and finally building a Disc Golf Course of their own. All of them had been traveling to many Disc Golf Courses in Pennsylvania and through out the Mid-Atlantic region since the mid to late 1980’s to play in tournaments and had always talked about establishing a course of their own.

With the help of Frank Senk, Joe Mela approached the Bucks County Parks and Rec. Dept. with a request to build a course at Core Creek Park, which is located in Langhorne, PA. Joe and Frank met with Park Director Julian Boryszewski and he was receptive to the idea of Disc Golf, but not at Core Creek. There was another park in Upper Bucks County that could be used and if everything worked out there, then maybe a course could be put in at Core Creek. Tinicum Park Disc Golf Course was born. It is located in Erwinna, PA.

Tinicum was completed in the spring of 1993 and consisted of 5′ yellow concrete posts as targets. These came from Roland Park, a course in Akron, PA that had just purchased Pole Holes. There were also a few Mach I Pole Holes, which came from Sedgley Woods, a course in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. They too had just purchased new Mach III Pole Holes. Tinicum Park now has 18 Mach III Pole Holes and is regarded as one of the premier Disc Golf Courses on the East Coast. The Annual Eric C. Yetter Memorial Disc Golf Tournament is held there every fall in his memory.

In the summer of 1994 The Whitetails received permission to install a 2nd Disc Golf Course at Tyler State Park, in Newtown, PA. The course at Tyler consists of 3 pin positions on each hole, as well as concrete tee pads. Through various fundraising activities and with the cooperation of Park Director Stan Peterson, 18 Mach III Pole Holes were installed. In 2000 permission was granted to install an additional 9 holes, which would make Tyler Park a 27 hole Disc Golf Course, the first of it’s kind in Pennsylvania. This was completed in April of 2001.

With both Tinicum and Tyler completed, the dream of having their own Disc Golf Course has come true for The Whitetails. The club runs tournaments at both courses through out the year and boasts a membership of 40 players.

The Flying Squirrels Arrive

While the Whitetails were busy maintaining their two new beautiful courses, something unexpected occurred that would end up changing the face of Tyler Park disc golf. It all started in the eighties, when ‘Frisbee golf’ was just a sport that was played by the Ott brothers ever since they were kids. The oldest Ott brother, Joe, started playing frisbee object golf with his long time friend Russ Packer, and soon introduced the sport to his younger brothers, Matt and Chuck. The interesting point in all this is that the Ott brothers have been playing this sport for years up at the local high-school using trashcans and goal posts as targets. They never realize that there was even a sport called ‘disc golf’ it has always been assumed that the game they were playing was something that big brother Joe and his friends had invented. However, in 1995, this would all change.

While surfing the Internet, Chuck discovered that there was a real disc golf course installed up at Tyler Park by a group of guys called the Bucks County Whitetails. Living fairly local, Joe and Chuck went to the Park to play the course. The course was still incomplete, many holes still having sticks as targets in place of pole holes. It didn’t matter, the sticks were still better then trashcans, this was heaven, the Ott’s have finally stumbled onto the sport of disc golf.

Matt, the youngest of the brothers, also started playing the Tyler Park course and started getting many of his friends involved. They all started traveling together, playing at new courses and even entering tournaments together. In April of 1996, this group of frisbee enthusiasts formed an official club that they called the Flying Squirrels, and elected Matt Ott to be the President. Original members of the Flying Squirrels also included Chuck Ott, Joe Ott, Russ Packer, Bill Weldon, Bill Weldon Jr., Larry Hutchinson, Nick Knapp, Anthony Knapp, and Justin Ryan. The club grew rapidly in the first two years, picking up 10 new members, including Eric Knapp and soon to be cabinet member and tournament director John Birkrem.

In the 1997, due to the rapid growth of the club, which at the time was 20 members, the club decided to change it’s name to the Flying Squirrels Disc Sports Club to represent the other disc sports that the club was also involved in. The Flying Squirrels Disc Sports Club (FSDSC) was off and running and started promoting and executing top notch disc golf tournaments of their own. The Squirrels became a tournament driven club with the main objective to run the best tournaments in the area. The NutBuster, the Squirrels staple event, started out as non-PDGA monthly event in 1996, but due to the high prize payouts and event professionalism, it soon evolved into a PDGA Super Tour event known as the Champions Cup. The Squirrels finally accomplished their goal in 2000 when the Champions Cup was voted as the MADC Tournament of the Year.

The Two Clubs Clash

Clash 1

At first, the Flying Squirrels coexisted with the Bucks County Whitetails with little problems. In fact, a few members of each of the clubs even took up membership in the other clubs. However, problems between the clubs emerged as the philosophy of the clubs clashed. The Whitetail’s main focus was raising funds to help support and grow their disc golf courses. Whereas, the Squirrels focused mainly on running top-notch disc golf events and giving out huge payouts. Both clubs needed to raise funds. Both clubs sold discs from the trunks of their cars and both clubs ran weekly events. There wasn’t enough money to go around to satisfy the needs of both the clubs. Basically, both clubs competed with each other for cash.

Clash 2

The Flying Squirrels started getting recognition for the Tyler Park as if they designed it. The Flying Squirrels never took credit for the course and even made sure to put a thank you note in every tournament program thanking the Whitetails for the course, but people from other courses still believed and said what they wanted to and eventually word got back to the Whitetails about the great course up at Tyler Park and all the great improvements that the Flying Squirrels have been doing. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to install and maintain a course and to hear another club get the credit for it would frustrate any club. This only lead to more tension between the two clubs.

Clash 3

The Whitetails needed to raise money for course improvement so they decided to run Thursday Doubles. They ran a fairly successful doubles for a few years, but then in 1997 asked the Flying Squirrels if they would take over. The Flying Squirrels obliged and in 1998, the Flying Squirrels launched what was probably the most successful doubles season ever at Tyler Park. The problem here was that the following year, the Whitetails decided to take back the doubles without ever consulting with the Flying Squirrels. This didn’t sit to well with the Flying Squirrels club members. Many of the Squirrels ended up boycotting the doubles that next year, virtually killing it’s existence. Rumors spread about members from other clubs tearing down the opposing clubs tournament signs and so forth. For little over two years, there was what I will call ‘The Cold War’ between the clubs. The members didn’t interact much and there were no more ‘cross memberships’ between the clubs.

Things Finally Get Better

The new millennium brought many things to this world, including new bonds between the two Tyler Park clubs. Like everything else, time heals all wounds. New faces like Rex Hay and Marc Brooks emerged in the cabinets of the clubs and offered fresh ideas and viewpoints. Both clubs started interacting more, becoming more involve in each other’s events and really started to help each other out. Tyler Park was now the home of the 99 Hole Breakout, the Great Eastern Amateur Cup, the Champions Cup, and the Eric C. Yetter Memorial, putting it’s face front stage on the national tour. The clubs finally started realizing that they can accomplish a lot more by collaborating together instead of wrestling one another. The idea of combining the clubs was brought up several times between 2000 and 2002, but it wasn’t until fall of 2002 that the cabinets of both the clubs officially started working together under the same name, the Bucks County Disc Golf Alliance (BCDGA).

The Alliance is still in its early stages, but already has found to be very fruitful. This union is a wonderful consolidation of time and talents. Although both clubs still retain separate identity, slowly they are becoming one unit dedicated to the promotion of the sport of disc golf and our wonderful local disc golf course Tyler State Park.

What’s next for the BCDGA?

Life, as you say it, is good at Tyler Park. With the formation of the BCDGA, you can expect more courses and bigger tournaments. They now have the best of both the worlds. The Champions Cup and the Eric C Yetter Memorial events have been combined into one gigantic Super Tour Event known as the Eric C. Yetter Champions Cup. They now have twice the energy, twice the sponsors, and twice the manpower. The BCDGA has arrived and is already looking to expand, stay tuned!

Flying Squirrels [Historical Site]