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North Carolina Disc Golf History Documentary Taking Flight


Filmmaker Aaron Shindledecker tells the Tar Heel State's disc golf story in First in Flight: The History of North Carolina Disc Golf. Courtesy photo

Few states have as storied a disc golf history as North Carolina. From humble beginnings of Frisbee golf in the late '60s and early '70s to now being renowned as the state producing some of the most competitive tournament golfers on the scene -- professional and amateur alike -- the Tar Heel State is one of the sport's most vital outposts. In 2018, it boasted the fourth most active PDGA members.

Filmmaker Aaron Shindledecker, a North Carolina native, took on the task of trying to document this history last year with First in Flight: The History of North Carolina Disc Golf. This feature documentary was previewed at the 2018 PDGA Amateur World Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his work is currently being released on his YouTube channel in episodic form.

Shindledecker interviewed disc golfers spanning multiple eras of the sport, including Hall of Famer Carlton Howard, who shared tales of the early days where he and others helped establish organized disc golf in the Raleigh area and statewide, and current North Carolina State Coordinator Philip Lawrence, who discussed how he has helped push the North Carolina Disc Golf Points Series into the modern age.

It was a labor of love for Shindledecker.

"I had the chance to start this project as one of my final tasks in my last semester of college at UNC Greensboro," he said. "I consulted a few people about it, including Marty McGee, who was an inspiration to me and one of the first people advancing disc golf tournament coverage and pushing it to the next level. Everyone I talked to gave me suggestions of who I should interview to get the broadest history of North Carolina disc golf." 

Five chapters have been released so far on YouTube, with three more on the way. Viewers have been able to see how the sport began locally as well as learn about 1986 PDGA World Championships and the famed Laurel Springs Open course and events.

Most recently, two chapters detailed the expansion of Innova Champion Discs to the East Coast in the early 1990s, and how the expansion of the brand impacted the sport and the 1997 PDGA World Championships, which were at the time known as the "Best Worlds Ever."

The newest chapter in the series will be released July 5 at 6 p.m. ET and will detail the entire history of the North Carolina Disc Golf Points Series.

"I’m very proud of this project," Shindledecker said. "Personally, this is the type of disc golf content that I love to watch, and there’s not much of it out there. I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life, and after a few years of being introduced to disc golf I started becoming aware of how deep our state’s history goes."

That doesn't mean the series only appeals to locals. With something for everyone from casual disc golfers to North Carolina natives -- or those who just want to learn about such as the beginning of the Amateur World Championships or how the disc golf leaderboard came to be -- First in Flight offers a comprehensive look at one of the sport's constant hotbeds. Stay up to date on all of the upcoming releases on the series on Aaron's YouTube channel.

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