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Club Spotlight: Ace Eagle Disc Golf Club

Club Spotlight: Ace Eagle Disc Golf Club

Friday, June 17, 2022 - 12:49

This story is part of a series of member spotlights and Affiliate Club spotlights, featuring players of all ages and skillsets.

When and how were you first introduced to disc golf?


First played in 1991 (31 years ago). I was around 11 years old when my dad forced me and my brother to join him playing this “frisbee game” that his best friend Jeff Vonderheide had introduced him to.

At first I wasn’t a fan of disc golf but not long after we started we met some guys from Louisville, Ky. One was Dave Greenwell (multiple World Champ) and another was Ken Reed. They showed us what a disc can do and I’ve been hooked ever since.  

What is your favorite thing about disc golf?

There are many things I could mention as my favorite. The sport of Disc golf has provided so much joy & opportunity in my life. It has given me lifelong friends in many parts of the country, an outlet to keep my competitive juices flowing and even a job with Buslers which currently has a great selection of discs. But my favorite things that always stick out to me are simply the quiet walk in the woods and seeing a pure “One Time” disc golf shot. I enjoy those two things the most. It’s so relaxing and such a stress reliever for me.

What makes disc golf different than other sports/hobbies for you?

To me, there’s nothing that compares to Disc Golf. I grew up focusing on other sports through high school but I always gravitated back to Disc Golf. Probably due to the camaraderie of the players and the flight of the discs. The community that surrounds disc golf is awesome!  

You are a founding member of your local PDGA Affiliate Club. How did the club come to be?


I moved back to Evansville in 2005 after living in Cincinnati, OH. Just a few years prior in Evansville, there wasn’t even a course in town. So I didn’t play much then. But in Cincinnati, they had many options. I mainly played Mt. Airy and Idlewild which are amazing courses. So when I moved back to Evansville in 2005 and found out there was a new course, I immediately tried to get acquainted with the local DG scene.

There was a three event Summer Series scheduled at USI (University of Southern Indiana) and there were two names on the flyer, Mike Weidner & Ruth Waller. I called them and quickly found out there wasn’t an organized club yet. I knew we had to have a club. All areas that were thriving had a strong club so it was the right thing to do.

The club name came to me organically through the simple golf terms of Ace and Eagle but also the two universities in town, Evansville Aces and USI Screaming Eagles. So by the end of the summer, the Ace Eagle Disc Golf Club was born. Most of the first members were my friends and family but we quickly added many other local disc golfers and are still adding new members every year. We were proud to become a PDGA affiliate club.  


AEDGC corporate seal, Evansville group in spring 2006's Disc Golf World's magazine celebrating money earned in Ice Bowl

Who else were founding members?

Mike Weidner PDGA 27994

John Barabe PDGA 30524

What has been the purpose or goal of the club?

To grow and promote the great sport of Disc Golf.  

How do you feel about such a big spotlight being on courses you’ve called home?

It really does feel good. We’ve had so many volunteers work on these courses over the years. Anyone who has shown up to a workday at any of the courses being used will probably have a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that 2022 Am Worlds was played on a course they helped maintain.


Anything else you'd like to share with the disc golf community?

The best disc golfer ever hasn’t played yet. The sport is still quite young as most people have never even heard of it. If you’re talking Disc Golf to friends, family or total strangers, consider yourself an ambassador of this sport. Not everyone will see disc golf in the same light you do and some may even make fun of you, but always try to be kind, courteous, professional and respectful. You never know, the next kid you talk with may become the next Champ! Until next time, Disc on!


2016 Birdie Bash, photo courtesy Andy Hinton

  • aedgcmatt.jpgName: Matt Nance (a.k.a “Mert Nernce”)
  • Member #38816
  • Favorite CourseMesker Woods

You have been a member of AEDGC since  around 2008, previously even serving as President. What role do you think the club has served in growing local disc golf?

When I first joined the club, I would guess that most people in the area didn’t know about disc golf. The club has helped immensely in promoting the sport in the tri-state area. Since I have joined the club, I have seen the club install and maintain several courses in Southern Indiana and even help raise money for courses outside of the state.

The club has run a number of public events (like clinics and youth programs) and has organized some very popular tournaments (like the Pumpkin Shootout, which will be an A-tier event this year). I have seen the club provide disc golf supplies, free of charge, to groups that have needed them and I have seen the club donate thousands of dollars to charitable organizations that are not disc golf related. Over the last few years, I have seen the club transition to a nonprofit organization, and I think this has opened a lot of doors.

aedgcflightschool.pngaedgcfoodbank2.jpgGroup of junior kids playing

2013 "Flight School" flyer, John Barabe presenting a check to a local food bank in 2015, Kids participating in "junior league" in 2021

You are one of the club's park managers for a course being played in Am Worlds, Mesker Park. Some things, such as a new tee pad, needed to be updated for Worlds. What has that process been like?

The opportunity to host Am Worlds has presented me with renewed motivation to make the courses the best they can be. There is an added level of pressure in knowing that hundreds of players throughout the world are going to play on your courses and judge your club and disc golf community based on their experiences. I want to make sure that nobody leaves thinking that Mesker Park is lacking in quality, both aesthetically, and in terms of playability and challenge level. The Ace Eagle Disc Golf Club and other local volunteers have worked hard to make sure that Mesker Park will be a safe and comfortable place to play. We’ve added several sets of stairs and bridges to the courses recently, improved the condition of tee areas, installed new baskets, and installed benches on almost every hole. 


In 2022, the club installed new, handmade benches on every tee at the Mesker Park Complex, including most short tees.


2017 Mesker Woods crew - Photo Courtesy Nick Fest #25936, course designer

You have played in Am Worlds before– what are you looking forward to this year?

I played Am Worlds each year from 2012-2017, and only stopped playing because the tournament left the Midwest region. The main reason I decided to play again this year is because it is incredibly close to home. I have never been able to play in a major tournament like this and sleep in my own bed between rounds! I am looking forward to being the “local guy” on the card and find out firsthand what people really think about our courses.


2011 Ace Race, photo courtesy Brian Wilson #43487

Because you are over 40, you had to earn all 1500 points in Advanced to participate in Am Worlds. Why was it so important to you to qualify for this Worlds, why not just play Masters?

Since turning 40 in 2018, I have been playing most of my tournaments in the MA40 division. When I learned that Am Worlds would be held locally, I knew I would HAVE to play. To ensure myself the ability to register as early as possible, I learned that I would have to earn my 1500 points playing MA1. I feel like my game actually improved as a result of joining the “young guns” once again. However, I know that if history serves as an indicator, there is only a very small chance that I could win Am Worlds at my age. I would say to others who are playing outside of their normal, age-protected division that they should focus on having fun and playing their best game. Show these younger guys that we still have what it takes to compete at a high level. If you hope to win, sign up for the Worlds for Masters, as well. That’s what I did!


Matt has created a bit of a shrine to "Hercules," a turtle that was accidentally ran over one day while mowing in the woods. You'll find this hole at Mesker - hole 7 of the Worlds layout.


You are the treasurer for AEDGC. What is that role like? How did you first get involved with the club?

Being the treasurer requires a lot of attention. Especially when we run multiple large tournaments a year. I also have taken over the business manager duties and have helped maintain our 501c3 status and filed our taxes the last few years.

I got involved with the club because I was tagging along with my boyfriend to events and meetings and was quickly asked my opinion on certain subjects. I fell in love with this sport and realized I wanted to do anything I could to help out and grow the community.

You are also the first female board member for your club. What, if any, female perspective do you think that you have given to the club that may not have been considered before you came along?

I had never paid attention to the fact that I was the first female on our board of directors… but I think that’s really cool and would love for that to make other women in our community feel comfortable with jumping in and taking action with things that they love.

When planning tournaments I make sure to make it a point that we need CTP holes that are reachable for everyone. A lot of women (and many men) can’t park the same holes that advanced and open players can park, so I like to make it a point that we need to keep things fair.


Brittney awarding Travis Parkerson #147251 his trophy at the Evansville Open, The club hosts a pumpkin carving each year ahead of the Pumpkin Shootout

What advice would you give to other females wanting to get involved with their local club?

If I were to give advice to other women interested in getting involved with their local clubs, I would say, listen to the great Shia LaBeouf and “JUST DO IT”. You can’t wait for other people to read your mind, you have to step in and put your ideas out there to make things happen.


You will be playing in your first Am Worlds at local courses. What are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to making new friends from all over the world. I love playing with new people so that I can learn new techniques. I’m excited to show off our local courses and how much work we have put into making them beautiful!


Brittney hit her first ace in a tournament last year, Brittney with other ladies at tournaments

What strategy did you use to get more competitors, so you could earn more points to qualify for Worlds?

I decided to compete in the mixed division last year so that I could ensure I had enough points to qualify for worlds. There isn’t a lot of competition around Evansville in the gender protected divisions, and I was fairly confident that I could give some of the men a run for their money. I enjoy competing against all people.

Steven was previously interviewed for a Tournament Director Spotlight.

You are the TD for the upcoming AM Worlds and explained some of the process of applying for hosting Am Worlds in a previous interview, but now that you’ve gone through more of the process, what has surprised you the most? What lessons have been learned?

I had a good idea of what it takes to run a large event from helping with some and being around others. I think the biggest surprise is how much this Major will benefit the local disc golf scene. From course improvements, to a greater understanding of the rules that we play that impact the courses and players. Having these rules reviewed by several PDGA officials with a lot more experience then me really created a set of course rules that we will be using for a very long time.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that you can never have enough help, and next time I will have a secretary (I guess you could call them) who would receive every email I do for this event and save it properly. I've spent a lot of time searching emails for the right logo or something because I didn’t save it when I first saw it.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to host Worlds?

Do it. If you meet the requirements and have at least one other person who can commit to just the bid process and the time away from family and friends, then do it. Once you get approved more help will come. Work closely with your local Tourism & Visitors Bureau, they have experience with bids. And if you're in a rural area, reach out to the nearest big county or city. A well prepared bid can help you with not just getting approved but even after.

You are the current president of AEDGC, a PDGA affiliate club and a founder of another local disc golf organization, Dads Fore Disc Golf. Can you explain their roles and roles of other local organizations in bringing Worlds to town?

Both non profits have had major roles in this adventure. Each has used their strengths and numbers to prepare courses, and gather community involvement. I 100% believe that without Ace Eagle Disc Golf Club, Dads Fore Disc Golf, Gibson County Tourism and Visitors Bureau or Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau, this would have never happened.

What do you see next for the club?

I think the club as a non profit can become a guiding light for not just the immediate vicinity but in a more expanded role in the region. We have already partnered with other local clubs, and work with disc golf groups at improving courses or adding courses.

The experience our players, and volunteers will gain from an event of this size is invaluable. They can take those experiences and start to implement them, and build from them. I think the way the non profit conducts business, the way our tournament directors run events and the expectations our players have is about to change in 10 days once the PDGA and the rest of the world moves on. We will be better and stronger because of it.

Anything else you'd like to share with the disc golf community?

I want to say how thankful I am for the partnership we have with Toyota and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana. They have helped in more ways than I think anyone realizes. Having a company like that on board and on the title shows the non-disc golf community, those looking in from the outside or even those who are just discovering the sport, how big we are.



AEDGC is hosting the Pumpkin Shootout this year as an A-tier. Registration opens next week. 

Thank you Ace Eagle DGC for being a PDGA affiliated club, helping with Am Worlds, and sharing your enthusiasm for disc golf with all of us. You can follow AEDGC on Facebook.