By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
with: Virgil Noah, Marketing Director
Local Charles Page Public Librarian Richard Why is not your typical book nerd. When he's not stocking shelves and checking out books, he can be found on disc golf courses across the Midwest, playing professionally for Team Fossa. Richard and his wife, Tara, are both sponsored by Fossa Disc Golf. Richard is also sponsored by Millennium Golf Discs.
Why played competitive ball golf throughout high school, but made the switch to disc golf after graduating.
"I realized how expensive it was. Playing disc golf for free really appealed to my college budget. I bought one disc and met (a friend) at the Riverside disc golf course one day after work and that's where it all started."
The twenty-nine-year-old father of one has been competing in PDGA events since 2010 when he took 8th place in the Advanced division in his first tournament, the Oklahoma Open. Why continued golfing in Advanced through 2011 and won his first tournament on February 4th, 2012.
"The real turning point for me came in 2012 when I beat everyone in my division by 8 strokes and my overall score would have placed me at second in the Pro Open division. Seeing the other guys walk away with a couple hundred dollars in cash looked way better than my stack of discs I had won, so I decided to move up and start playing in the Pro division," says Why.
That tournament was the Dynamic Discs Winter Warm-Up, a B-tier event held in Lewisville, Texas. In his division alone, he bested 39 other golfers.
Two weeks later he made his professional debut at the Dynamic Discs Cedar Hill Chill in Cedar Hill, Texas and tied for last place in a tough competition that included Eric McCabe and Jay "Yeti" Reading. He didn't let that loss weigh him down, however, and finished top-ten in his next five tournaments.
"When I first started out I didn't really follow disc golf too much. I watched Youtube videos on how to play and get better but didn't know of many touring Pros. I do admire Paul McBeth though, he is the current No.1 ranked player in the world and has won the last 4 World Championships in a row. He is taking disc golf more mainstream. He is well spoken and a great ambassador for the sport for younger players."
Why finally won his first pro tournament in July that same year, finishing three strokes ahead of Matthew Wright at the 3rd annual Monkey Trap Open in Springdale, Arkansas. At the same time, he was on his way to a first place finish at the ten-round, ten-week league event, McClure Monday Mayhem, here in Tulsa.
In 2013 he took first place at the 5th Annual Lucky 13, the Denison Parks and Recreation Open, and the Oklahoma State Flying Disc Championship. He finished top-ten in all but two of his 18 tournaments that year.
In 2014 he placed first at the Battle at Bell Park, the Doer at McClure, and the Kan-U-Wyco in Wyandotte, Kansas. At Wyco he pulled a major upset over 2010 World Champion Eric McCabe by a single stroke. In January of 2015, he came in fourth place at the Dynamic Discs Winter Warm Up, finishing a single stroke behind McCabe.
"Personally, Disc Golf has impacted my life on quite a large scale. I play almost every weekend with my wife and son. It's a great form of exercise and gives me a chance to spend time in many of the beautiful parks around the Tulsa area. It has introduced me to so many great people, it has also given me the opportunity to travel to some places I probably never would have gone if it wasn't for disc golf. I have been to the 4 surrounding states many times, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas, but I have also traveled as far away as Georgia and South Carolina to compete."
Tulsa has a rich history of disc golf, being one of the earliest cities to embrace the sport. According to PDGA records, there were only 60 courses on the planet in 1980. Tulsa had five of them.
Today there are 15 in Tulsa and 24 in the greater Metro area. Sand Springs used to have a 9 hole golf course at Ray Brown Park, next to the High School. Those baskets were relocated to River City Parks in 2012 to be used in a new 18 hole course. That course is currently unplayable as many of the baskets and tee pads are uprooted due to renovations the park is going through. The construction of the new splash pad and handicapped parking have bisected the course and it's uncertain when it will be playable again.
Why hosts an annual summer technique clinic for kids at Charles Page Library. This year it will be on August 3rd at 10:30 AM. When the couple isn't golfing, they often help run tournaments and participate in course cleanup days around Tulsa.