If you're asking yourself, "Who's that guy who recieved the 2011 PDGA Volunteer of the Year Award last night?", I certainly don't blame you. I'm not a top touring professional disc golfer. I don't work at the International Disc Golf Center. I'm just a dude in Indianapolis that loves disc golf. My name is Matt Gregoire AKA Marty Gregwah and if you've started following @PDGA on Twitter in the last year, you've started following me. I've somehow gone from just a regular guy on the course to the Social Media Director of the PDGA in the last 12 months. It's my job and my passion to promote the sport I love with what should be, and what now are, the most important disc golf based social media accounts in the world today.
So, how did I end up doing this? Glad you asked, because it's a pretty strange story. Last May, 3 of my friends and I were playing a casual round at a course in Indianapolis called Brookside Park. We had just teed off on hole 9, which has an OB road on the left. As we started to walk off the tee towards our shots, two men approached us from the street. If you know the area at all, you'd probably be about as excited as we were to see this. Where did they come from anyway? A cab? We didn't know.
The two guys said they were in a hurry, wanted to get a few holes in, and asked if they could buy a few discs from us. We had plenty of extra discs and we gladly sold them a few and started walking towards our shots again. I stopped and turned around. I knew one of those guys but I wasn't sure how or why. I went back and told one of them that he looked familiar and asked how I knew him? He smiled and laughed a little bit and said "I'm on TV." I still didn't know though, so I asked, "What show?"
Ever seen Glee? Well, I have plenty of times, whether I wanted to or not. The guy that bought the discs from us was Mark Salling. The cast of Glee was apparently on tour around the country and they had a show in Indianapolis later that night. I couldn't help but ask to take a picture with him because I knew I could torture my then fiance, now wife, with it. And I did, to no end. A day or so later I sent the picture in to the PDGA and said that maybe they could use his celebrity status to get some national coverage of the sport.
The Membership Manager, Sara Nicholson, responded to my email. She thanked me for the pic and said she would give it a shot. Mark never did respond to any of our attempts to contact him, but Sara and I continued to trade emails. I work in IT in Indianapolis and I asked them why they never use their Twitter account. The answer was basically that they didn't have anyone to do it. So, seeing a window of opportunity, I offered to do it for them. A handful of us had been tweeting about disc golf for a long time and I figured I could at least get a little excitement about it going if they gave me a chance to help using their account.
On June 29th, 2011 I posted my first tweet as @PDGA. It was as follows:
At the time we had just under 500 followers and less than 100 total tweets. I tweeted as much as I could. I retweeted anything and everything about disc golf. The account began to grow a lot quicker than I thought it would. By September we had 1,000 followers. By February, it was 2,000. Now just over a year later we are approaching 4,200.
I became an admin for the Facebook page as well and tried to teach the other admins what kind of posts would get the most feedback and interaction. I started an Instagram account and started posting pictures and linked them to the other social media accounts. We now have over 2,000 followers on Instagram and there are 16,000+ photos tagged with #discgolf.
Our Twitter account was given the verified "checkmark" before we even had 1,000 followers. Sure, I emailed Twitter corporate non-stop for days on end, but hey, it's an accomplishment either way. There are plenty of bigger organizations that still don't have that all powerful blue and white check mark. We do. And in a way, albeit a very geeky computer nerd kind of way, I feel like it also made disc golf more official too.
I've traveled the country to live tweet some of the bigger tournaments (when I could get the time off work to do so) and I've always had to spend some of my own money to do so. And I will continue to if that's what it takes to help grow the sport I've come to love so much. I am truly honored to be a part of the PDGA and I couldn't be happier or more proud to be awarded Volunteer of the Year. I have big plans for next year and I can guarantee you that if you've liked what you've seen so far with Twitter, Facebook, live tweeting, etc., this is only the beginning.
If all the work I've done has encouraged even one new person to pick up a disc and try out our sport, then I've accomplished my goal. Stay tuned disc golf world. Our sport is on the rise online, and offline as well.
If you're in or around Indianapolis this fall, stop by and say hello to me at the The Naptown Throwdown, a B-Tier on October 20th, presented by the newest disc golf club in Indiana, the Circle City Acers.
Thank you PDGA for nominating me and thank you everyone online for helping grow the sport!