Steady Ed Headrick founded the PDGA in 1976. During those early years when the PDGA was spearheaded solely by Ed, there was no formal testing and approval process for discs. At that time only Wham-O discs were permitted in competitions, with the DGA Night Flyers and Midnight Flyers released in 1978 as the first discs made specifically for disc golf. Because there were so few discs, technical standards were not a real issue then. At the first PDGA Worlds in 1982, professional disc golfers sought to make the PDGA a player-run organization. There was a transition toward player control in 1983, most notably when co-TD’s Tom Monroe and Lavone Wolfe for the 2nd Pro Worlds that year declared that non-Wham-O/DGA discs would be allowed so long as they met all PDGA standards. Tom and Lavone also decided that beveled discs made by (Innova-)Champion would also be allowed. Before the Worlds in 1983, the PDGA had adopted these few criteria for discs to be used in sanctioned tournaments. Thes; that is, discs had to: (1) be both no heavier than 200 grams (g) overall and no heavier than 8.3 g/cm in diameter, (2) be at least 21 cm in diameter, and (3) have a rim depth/diameter ratio of at least 5 percent. From 1983 until 1989, the approval process was relatively straight forward. If a disc met the few standards on weight and size limits, a disc was automatically approved. And because there were relatively few discs being released at that time, most players knew what was available and permitted in PDGA competition. Jeff Homburg became the Technical Standards Committee (TSC) Chair in late 1989. He began to recruit a few others to join the TSC and both initiated and implemented a testing and approval process. This process became more formalized and rigorous over time, as more technical standards were added, such as limits set in 1994 for how sharp and rigid a disc could be in PDGA competition.
Jeff began collaborating with Mike Hughes by transporting a set of all discs tested since 1990 to Mike for photographic documentation in the format established by himself and other curators in the Flying Disc Museum, for exhibition in its own FDM gallery.
This gallery initially shows all of the discs that were approved prior to 1990 when Jeff started receiving disc samples for testing and approval. Those pre-1990 discs are just examples for each model approved, as those discs were never formally tested, and their approval was based simply on their diameter for determining the weight limit for each disc. Following those discs you will find photographs for top and bottom views of each disc as it was submitted for approval. In most instances, a copy of the approval form accompanies the disc. Past and current practice is for each manufacturer (or distributor (or Maker) as in the case of brands like the DGA that obtain their discs from others) to send three samples for each disc model to be approved. Jeff splits the three discs into three distinct “sets” of discs labeled #1, #2, and #3. The discs that are photographed and documented in the museum are from set #2. You will see that number written by Sharpie on transparent tape affixed to the bottom of each disc, and now you know what it means. Jeff saves #3 for the PDGA, where boxes are periodically transported for permanent curation as a tangible record for documenting the history of disc golf.
From disc golf’s humble beginnings, it has exploded in popularity, especially during the years of the pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, there have been 70 new disc brands with PDGA approvals, more than doubling the total number of brands with disc approvals to 148, all but 22 of which are still active. Makers continue to produce new molds with new plastic formulations at a dizzying rate. In the first half of 2023 a total of 178 discs were approved, a rate that will make this another record year for PDGA approvals.
In the future Jeff will continue collaborating with the FDM so it can stay up with production by continually photographing and documenting discs for all new molds soon after they are submitted for testing and approval.
Jeff Homburg (#1025)
PDGA TSC Chair since ‘89
July 6, 2023
The FDM wishes to thank Robert Wright, Tom McManus, Dylan Trevors and Bryan McAlees for the time and effort in creating this wonderful gallery. Thank you gentlemen!
Photo copyrights belong to their respective contributors, disc design copyrights belong to their designers