John Houck's Contribution to Disc Golf
2014 Amateur World Doubles Championships
Selah-Lakeside, Talco, Texas
John started playing disc sports around 1975. He played in his first tournament, the Western New York Open, in August of '78. He won the World Freestyle Championships in 1984 and 1985, and that's about the same time he started designing courses and running tournaments and he continues to do both even today. John has devoted his whole life to disc sports and has worked in this industry continuously since 1982 full time.
In the late '80s he created the Circular Skies Over Texas Tour, which was initially the biggest regional disc golf tour in the country and now he hosts Texas Teams every year. Texas Teams is the largest teams tournament in the world. In 2010, Texas Teams had a total of 456 players who participated in a two-day event held on three courses at Circle R Disc Golf Ranch. Texas Teams is now hosted on four courses in Mt. Vernon, Texas, the home of the best disc golf course in the world for 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 as per DGCourseReview.com.
Pro World Women's Champion Paige Pierce with John
at the 2014 Amateur World Doubles
John is responsible for designing, starting, and running the PDGA National Doubles Championships in the early 1990s. He continued to host the PDGA Amateur Doubles World Championship till 2014, they were held at Selah Ranch in Mt. Vernon, Texas. Players from all around the world are invited to compete for the title every year. In 2013 over 200 players had to be turned away and two brand new courses had to be designed to accommodate the demand for this event.
In 1991, he created World's Biggest Disc Golf Weekend, his international event to spread the love of disc golf. This event grew to include 17 countries and a 135 cities around the world while it raised money for non-profit organizations. It is estimated that the event introduced tens of thousands of people to the sport around the world over the years. Disc Golfers would get-together to play and enjoy the sport while they raised money for their clubs or other local non-profits and introduced the sport in their local community. The headquarters in Austin, Texas also donated money to non-profits from the wholesale of World's Biggest discs and T-shirts. The event was donated to the PDGA by John Houck & Dee Leekha in 2014 to convert it to a Global Disc Golf Day. The PDGA has decided to return the event to Circular Productions. John and Dee have decided to establish it as a non-profit which will promote the sport globally. 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of this event, and in 2017, WBDGW will initiate the process of applying to become a non-profit, World’s Biggest Disc Golf Wish (WBDGW.org), which will fund course development, education, and access to the sport for seniors, children, and women.
John also co-founded Millennium Golf Discs with Harold Duvall in 1994. In 2006, he became President of Millennium Golf Discs, which is his custom brand of premium discs designed for accuracy and course management. Today, Millennium is owned & operated by DiscsUnlimited while John is focusing on designing courses. He continues to write about course design and is teaching course design through a series of design workshops.
John teaching a workshop at the IDGC
While John was Commissioner of the PDGA from 1994 to 1996 he also ran the Pro Worlds in '94 and '95 in Port Arthur, Texas. In those days he was emcee for many of the disc world's biggest events and he was doing the commentary for the video coverage PDGA Worlds. He made the first-ever instructional video for disc golf. Houck plans to release a series of videos about his courses where he discusses his thoughts on the fairway design.
He was inducted into the Disc Golf Hall of Fame in 1998. He opened his private courses at Circle R Ranch in Wimberley, Texas to the public in 1999, and in 2002 he opened Circle R2 Ranch for public play with three premium championship courses in San Saba, Texas.
People around the world were introduced to disc golf through the World's Biggest Disc Golf Weekend. From 1991 to 2014, the first weekend in May was John Houck's invitation for players and newcomers alike to spread the love of disc golf. In 2016, on the 25th anniversary of WBDGW, it was announced that WBDGW will be a non-profit that supports growth and education of the sport to seniors, women, and children worldwide.
John is the Founding President of the Disc Golf Foundation and led the Foundation for a decade and a half. As Head of Design at the International Disc Golf Center in Augusta, Georgia, he spearheaded the effort to bring state of the art design to the facility. He continues to define the cutting edge of disc golf course design: included in the 100 plus courses he designed as a solo designer are a record 15+ courses for World and National Championships. His contribution to course design includes an additional 30+ consultations, and he is the premier disc golf course designer in the world, not by sheer volume alone, but mainly by the quality of his designs and the demand for his courses, which are hugely popular with disc golf players. His course design articles are regularly published in the PDGA magazine, Disc Golfer.
John is working on a course design book which he hopes to publish in 2017. He continues to passionately design and consult regularly. He is President and Co-Founder of Circular Productions, LLC. He regularly promotes the sport around the world and is looking forward to taking his designs to Europe, Central and South America. He is innovating the art of course design through HouckDesign and growing the HouckDesign team with his partner and wife Dee. His vision is to see more people around the world enjoying disc golf on safer and more complex courses for optimal enjoyment while accommodating all levels of players on the same course. His specialty is highlighting the unique features each piece of land offers to create memorable fairways that players come back to enjoy over and over again. Even though he is widely recognized as the most experienced Master designer, he is passionate about each job; small or large. He continues to design all levels of courses so people everywhere can enjoy playing on courses that create a great mix of challenge and fun.