Joplin natives help grow new sport


Kyle Webster, Contributer

Professional disc golfer and former Missouri Southern quarterback Kyle Webster is now signed to a sponsorship deal with Westside discs.

Former Missouri Southern starting quarterback Kyle Webster never thought much about disk golf growing up in Mustang, Oklahoma as a star football player.  The Class 6A District 1 “Offensive Player of the Year,” Mr. Football Oklahoma, and U.S. Army Top Gun QB Challenge finalist was introduced to disk golf by his father as a child but didn’t start playing until high school.  

For those unfamiliar with the sport, disk golf, also known as Frisbee golf, is a flying disc game, as well as a precision and accuracy sport, in which individual players throw a flying disc at a target. 

According to Paul Ince of the Professional Disc Golf Association, “the object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc.”

Webster transferred to Southern in 2010 after redshirting his freshman year at Sam Houston State. The move coincided with him playing much more disk golf. Despite his success on the football field, scoring six touchdowns in 2011 and starting several games in 2012, his heart was elsewhere.

“I just got to the point where I was having a lot more fun playing disc golf than I was playing football,” said Webster. “I was doing well, so I decided to cut ties with football and pursue what I loved.” 

Webster now a PDGA touring pro is sponsored by Westside Discs a company from Finland. Webster serves as “Team Captain” responsible for growing the sport in the United States and communication with other American players.”

“In Europe disk golf is huge, they show it on National television, and the stars are treated like NFL stars here,” said Webster. “It’s a big sport, and it has a lot of respect over there and were just trying to earn the same respect over here.”

Another player doing his part to grow the game is Joplin native Chris Clemons. Clemons, who along with Webster both have  11 career wins on the PDGA, also came to the sport later in life.

“I didn’t start playing a lot until around 2012, but I grew up playing basketball and baseball so I knew if I wanted to get better I had to practice,” said Clemmons. So I practiced a lot and started getting better and playing in tournaments, and it went from there.”

Practicing for hours every day, Clemons soon became good enough to turn pro and was signed by professional companies Latitude 64 and Dynamic Discs.

 “It became my life before I knew it all my friends were disk golfers, everything I did involved disk golf, my whole life pretty much revolves around a flying disk and it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Clemons, who says children are the key to growing the sport, now gives back to younger players, teaching classes to children in Carl Junction and holding clinics elsewhere. 

Both Clemons and Webster advise anybody interested in learning the game to get out there and try it for themselves. Players can purchase beginner discs for as little as $15, and Joplin’s McClelland Park offers a fantastic course.

“Disk Golf is an escape for me,” said Webster. “Just getting to be by myself and throw some Frisbees in the park, being in control of something and being able to reflect out there is crucial, I’ve always enjoyed that. I’ve also met so many people who have turned into some of my best friends; I just feel so lucky to be able to do it.” 

Despite their accomplishments, both players are hungry for future success and have a drive to grow the sport.

“I feel like I’ve made it in the disc golf world, but I still have this chip on my shoulder,” said Clemons.  “I want to be the best player in the world and I won’t stop until I feel like I am.”

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