Disc golf is entering the main stream in 2024.

Yet, the road to this prominence was paved by pioneers, advocating for a sport they deeply believed in.

Canada’s contribution to this journey is significant, largely due to the efforts of individuals like Jim Brown, who tirelessly promoted the sport’s cause when few even knew of its existence.

Introduction to Disc Golf and Discraft

In 1975, Jim Brown was introduced to Disc Golf by none other than Jim Kenner, the owner of Discraft, alongside Ken Westerfield. This was a transformative period in Jim’s journey within the disc sports realm, particularly with his exposure to Discraft’s groundbreaking disc: the Sky-Pro. Celebrated as Discraft’s first disc, the Sky-Pro was designed for seamless throws and catches. It became an immediate favourite among enthusiasts, from children to adults and even dogs. Seeing the vast potential of the Sky-Pro, Jim Brown took the lead in its promotion. He diligently set up distribution outlets, showcased its capabilities through shows, and provided hands-on training via clinics. By 1979, his unyielding commitment and efforts led him to become Discraft’s Western Canadian distributor, heralding a significant chapter for both him and the sport’s expansion in the region.

Beginnings and Early Achievements

Hailing from an era when disc sports were in their early stages, Jim’s journey began as a freestyler. His talent was evident early on when he clinched 2nd place at the Rose Bowl in ‘77, impressing a mammoth crowd of 50,000. The Rose Bowl, an iconic stadium in Pasadena, California, is primarily known for hosting the annual college football “Rose Bowl Game.” However, in 1977, it served as the backdrop for a significant event in disc sports history, where Jim showcased his skills in front of this massive crowd. Such a grand stage, typically reserved for high-profile sporting events, underscored the growing appeal of disc sports during that era. As he toured Canada, Jim’s showcases and clinics became the stuff of legend, bringing the magic of the disc to countless enthusiasts.

Laying Foundations for the Sport

But Jim’s vision for disc golf extended beyond just products and promotions. Recognizing the need for organized structures and community involvement, he played an integral part in birthing the Vancouver Disc Sports Society, BC Disc Sports Society, and the Disc Golf Branch. His drive didn’t stop at disc golf. Jim was also instrumental in sparking the inception of Vancouver Ultimate, securing his place in the VUL Hall of Fame and Ultimate Canada Hall of Fame.

Courses, Tournaments, and Collaborations

A significant part of Jim’s legacy lies in the courses and tournaments he helped set up and organize. From Mundy Park (Coquitlam, BC) to Robert Burnaby (Burnaby, BC) and Jericho (Vancouver, BC), Jim’s touch is evident in these iconic disc golf locations. The sport also owes much to his advocacy at parks and rec conferences and his determined spirit that saw him organize hundreds of tournaments.

Among his many collaborations, his work with Peter Lizotte, uncle to the renowned disc golfer Simon Lizotte, stands out. The duo’s combined passion and efforts bore fruit when the Abbies Open rose to prominence, becoming the 7th largest payout in the world in the early ’90s.

The JB Cup: A Tribute to Legacy

While Jim’s efforts were monumental in shaping the disc golf landscape in Canada, one particular acknowledgment of his contributions is the JB Cup. Named in honor of Jim, the JB Cup embodies the camaraderie, competitive spirit, and community-driven ethos that Jim championed throughout his career. Originated from an old trophy discovered by Peter Lizotte and Dave Stropky (known as Hank), the idea was to host a Rider Cup format disc golf club event in BC. It quickly gained prestige and importance, serving as a beacon of excellence and an annual reminder of the rich history of disc golf in the region.

Legacy and Continuing Influence

While the JB Cup is a testament to Jim Brown’s enduring impact on the disc golf community, it’s essential to recognize that his true legacy lies in the myriad ways he championed, nurtured, and grew the sport in Canada. As disc golf enthusiasts and professionals enjoy the courses, tournaments, and community spirit today, it’s a nod to the tireless efforts of pioneers like Jim Brown. His story serves as a reminder of the roots from which this beloved sport has grown.