Disc Golf Pro Tour TD of the Year. So many amazing events. The TD of the Year will need to be someone that embodies the culture of the disc, that is well organized, works well with others and inspires people to give their best to elevate our sport. This was one of the most difficult decisions of the season. Wonderfully, we had many tournament directors step up and put together fantastic events. The final two contenders were Adam Jones and Jason Kerl and their Idlewild crew. They put together a stellar first-year event that was more than worthy of calling itself a pro tour stop and Ryan Draper and Joey Harrell of Waco. They propelled their longstanding event to the status of premier event and the disc golf world should stand up and take notice.
Ryan Draper contacted the Pro Tour about eight months before the event, the Waco Annual Charity Open (WACO) presented by Dynamic Discs. Four weeks later, I was on the ground in Waco reviewing the course and the places where the players party, players meeting, and night life would be happening. Waco is an awesome town that features one of the country’s first suspension bridges, Baylor University, Cameron Park Zoo (right next to the course) and the amazing BEast – Brazos East Disc Golf Course.
During our initial walk thru, it was clear that the course needed quite a bit of cleanup, especially through the wooded holes, but there was clearly passion and potential. Joey Harrell, course designer, assured me that their work crews would get it done. The Waco bridge, where the players party would be held, looked like an amazing venue as long as Ryan Draper got the word out. The following March, the world would see that they had succeeded on both counts perfectly.
When the time came, Ryan and Joey had all their cylinders firing. The course was immaculate, the bridge was ready for an amazing party, and the town of Waco opened their arms to us. The WACO has been a long-standing event. Ryan and Joey were committed to making the event into a premier disc golf event and making Waco a disc golf destination. If the tournament was a 70 footer into the wind, they confidently put this tournament, located in the heart of Texas, right in the heart of the chains.
The course challenged the players in a variety of ways, offering long open shots, prevailing winds, and tight wooded lines. The players party had buy-in from the town, the vendors, the players, and hundreds of spectators. It was a sight to behold as well as a model we will look to copy for years to come. As with all things, there are areas to improve and I am confident that the Waco team is working on making the 2018 version even better. However, this moment is a time to celebrate how wonderful the event was.
We are very proud to name our 2017 Tournament Directors of the Year, Ryan Draper and Joey Harrell of the Waco Annual Charity Open presented by Dynamic Discs.