Have you ever had this happen to you? Your phone rings, or you get an email, or someone, a perfect stranger, messages you on Facebook to play some disc golf? Of course, given the passion that we all share for the sport, we entertain the invite, and usually will meet up with them at the nearest course to play a round and strengthen the links that each of us in the disc golf community has around the world.
Now imagine if that disc golfer has played in all 50 states AND is a Technical Sargent at the 144th fighter wing at Fresno’s Air National Guard base, whose passion for the sport is woven together with his patriotism for the nation. Wrap this all together, and add a big helping of joy and friendliness, and you have Technical Sargent, Larry Clifford Kirk, PDGA #45472 whose radiant smile and disc golf intensity cannot be missed wherever his disc endeavors have taken him.
A California transplant from Saint Joseph, Missouri, Kirk was introduced to disc golf in 1978 at LaMirada, after being primarily a ball golf enthusiast. His exposure to disc golf remained restricted to the LaMirada course throughout 2001, where he believes the disc sports US Open may have actually been taking place while he was there.
"I knew about Frisbee golf back then, but I was not yet hooked on the sport,” Kirk revealed. “I loved to play ball golf, but when I saw what these guys were doing with a Frisbee back then at LaMirada, it made quite an impression on me.”
This impression lingered for years before Larry really dipped his toes into the disc golf waters. Indeed, it was 2001 at the other Oak Grove course in Stockton, California, when Kirk was fishing with his two children and noticed others who were making some unusual catches in the water. A few dedicated disc golfers were diving into the park lake to retrieve, not only their own flyers, but scores of other golf discs that had landed and sunk to the bottom. Kirk and his kids immediately seized upon the opportunity to gather some discs get started with the sport with which they would all soon fall in love.
“I remember asking the kids, ‘let’s go and see if we could find some discs,’” Kirk shared. “I’m not sure they were even interested in the discs, but I knew they were excited to get into the cool lake water. But when they found a couple discs, we had all the equipment we needed to play. And it wasn’t long after that I decided to play as many California courses as I could. I guess I’m sort of obsessive,” Kirk blushed.
With disc golf now on his mind, Kirk had the perfect excuse to covering as many courses as he could across the beautiful California terrain. His daughter was a star softball player, whose travel team would play throughout much of the Golden Gate State to compete. Kirk’s new car in 2001, a Mitsubishi Mirage, also gave the family the reliable vehicle they needed to cover long swatches of the state on their way to games (and rounds on the disc golf course).
So during the early spring of 2001, Larry and the kids packed up and played as many courses as they could, all while making sure his daughter got to her games too, of course. His goal was to blanket the state and play as many of the disc golf courses as he could. The kids did not seem to mind, and this ambitious goal of attempting a massive, long-lasting disc golf road trip fit Kirk’s high energy, high accomplishment personality quite well. So off they went.