The $25 Disc Collector
I was walking around the Fly Mart at the 2004 World Disc Golf Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, when my eyes lit up. This was my first worlds and really my first experience at anything remotely close to a Fly Mart; before this week the most discs I had ever seen for sale was out of someone’s trunk at our league nights in Raleigh, NC. But there they were; two gorgeous white brand new CE Leopards.
I’ve been color specific since 2003 and really just randomly decided to start throwing all white despite owning a gorgeous blue CE Leopard that I had picked up after first hearing about CE plastic earlier that week at a local doubles. My partner had this new disc that reflected light like I had never seen before and felt so much different than any disc I had ever felt. He said “oh this is a Champion Edition Eagle, it doesn’t beat up like a normal Eagle would.” What a concept.
The next day I went to a local Play It Again Sports in search of one of these so called Champion Edition discs. However when I got there, they only had that blue CE Leopard. I really wanted white, but I was so fascinated with the concept of a disc that wouldn’t get flippy so quickly (that was a big deal when it first came out).
I won my first ever Leopard in 1999 at a doubles tournament and the only reason I got it out of the bin for a prize was it had a tournament stamp dated August 27, which was my birthday. It instantly became my favorite fairway driver and just about the only driver I could anhyzer. I figured what the heck; I’ll buy the CE one even though it’s blue ($17).
By the time the 2004 worlds rolled around, this Leopard was at the bottom of some creek in Eastern North Carolina (I guess I thought I could throw it 400 feet over a lake) and I had a trusty white one that I had purchased from Disc Landing ($20) in the summer of 2003 and another white one purchased at a local Play it Again ($17). I flipped over these two gorgeous CE Leopards and saw the price tag and absolutely gasped. $25. “I will NEVER pay that for a disc!”
I really thought about it and ended up buying what became my third and fourth CE Leopard. I was in college and had worked all summer for the worlds and basically decided I deserved it. But I made a pact in that hotel that day to never spend more than$25 in the purchase of a disc and here 8 years later, that still holds true.
This is the story of my disc golf collection. A collection that I find about as weird as they come because I only collect what I throw. But this collection is so valuable, it is mentioned in my will what should be done with it should I pass away.
I now have 9 CE Leopards; those original 4, one found in the used bin at a Play it Again ($9), one I purchased in late 2006 from local collector Felix Sung ($25), one given to me that hung in the store at Disc Landing as a thank you for all the hundreds of dollars I spent in Disc Landing basket toss contests (I never won one, I aced once and Craig Whitney of Charlotte aced the last throw of the day to tie me and then beat me in the throw off. Craig still has the basket and every time I stayed at his place for tournaments, he reminded me which basket in the yard that it was) and one traded for a CE FX that I won in payout at the 2004 North Carolina Flying Disc Championships . My most recent one was acquired a few months ago. I sold some discs for a friend and he gave me a $30 tip for helping him move them. One of them was a mint CE Leopard, which I traded for a used white one and $20. I paid an additional $25 and gave my friend his asking price of $75 for it combining his $30, my $25 and my trading partner’s $20.
Total spent directly for 10 CE Leopards: $158.
It doesn’t stop with CE Leopards. I’m also addicted to 10X Rocs. I won a KC Roc at a league one night and loved it. I lost it about a year later and headed to Play it Again to buy a new one. About 6 months later, this disc ended up at the bottom of hole 7’s lake at my home course. No problem considering my partner was nice enough to give me his out his bag to replace it.
I started to get a little bit more knowledgeable of discs around this time and sure enough, the disc that I had been calling a KC Roc was in fact a 10X Roc and I started gobbling these up left and right. Ebay. Trades. Purchases from people at a course who had them. Purchases from other collectors. Everything. Before long I had about 45. Good thing because in 2002, Climo had won his eleventh world title and these rocs were now about five years out of production.
One of them I purchased at a the used bin at Play it Again ($5) and this brings me to a great story. Aleksey Bubis, who I met at the 2004 worlds, was traveling full time as pro in 2005 and this led to him to win the Rookie of the Year. The Dogwood Crosstown Classic, a huge tournament in my hometown of Raleigh, was a National Tour and Aleksey stayed with me during the weekend. He then saw all my 10X Rocs and became pretty jealous. His favorite was the $5 roc and I informed him what I had paid for it. When I got back from the shower, there was a $10 bill on my bed with a note that said “100% profit.” Clever. I returned the $10 informing him I wasn’t selling and sure enough, he had already written his name on the back. Jerk. Fast forward about 6 months and I lost this disc in Greenville, NC (my home course in college).
About 3 months later I see a casual player with a 10X Roc in his hand. Now over the years, I have run into casual players with 10X Rocs, San Marino Rocs, a 2001 Roc, CE Everything and so on and so forth and I’ve always tried to make a fair trade with them. Usually they don’t care about it and are thrilled to get 3 or 4 discs for it. So I approach the player and sure enough, it’s the Roc that Aleksey had “bought.” Well I had never removed the ink of his or written my own on it.
I went to the player and said “Hey man, that’s my disc. I left it out here a few days ago.” He says “Ok yeah, I found it. But it has a name on the back. What is your name and if it’s yours, I’ll be glad to give it back” Without a hesitation I responded “Aleksey Bubis.” He returned it and that disc now says “Aleksey Bubis (his hand writing) does not own this (my hand writing).”
While I don’t remember the exact break down of what I’ve spent on 10X Rocs, the $25 rule still holds true with these. Some memorable finds of them have been on ebay ($4.99), found on a course with no name, traded for a 11X Eagle when they first came out (his suggestion, not mine) and of course the memorable $5 purchase that Aleksey was intrigued with.
It is worth noting that the very first KC Roc I lost that started my 10X craze was returned back years later and still had my 13 year old hand writing on the back. It turned out to be a 9X, purchased at Play it Again new in 2000 ($10).
Total spent directly on approximately 45 10X Rocs and that one 9X: Approximately $200
I wouldn’t call myself a collector beyond these two discs (and if I collect them, I will throw them. Nothing valuable is on my wall) but simply because I’ve played for over 20 years and played in close to 1,000 sanctioned rounds, I naturally have a collection mainly from tournament payouts. I have about 40 pearly champion orcs stashed away and about 30 of the first run champion glo TL’s as well. 11X Rocs are falling out of my closet and landing on top of my large collection of Ice Clear 11X Firebirds it seems. These simply were what was in the payout bins in 2003 – 2004 and during this time, I was winning a lot of advanced tournaments.
But players making “The Switch” have also greatly attributed to my collection as well. Which switch? Innova to Discraft.
It all started with Kirk Yoo. Kirk was never on Team Innova, but like most “free agents” here in North Carolina, threw Innova (after all, with Rock Hill only 3 hours away and our club’s originator Carlton Howard is a sponsored Innova player so all club merch is Innova, so it just made sense to throw Innova). Kirk signed with Discraft and sure enough, all of his old Innova stuff was for sale. I still have a great big bead in the bag ($10) that I got from Kirk as well as many of those 10X Rocs. Kirk was even at one point trading new discraft for 10X Rocs. Imagine going to a tournament, getting a payout, grabbing 6 Z Buzzzes and then going to Kirk and saying “can I get three 10X rocs with this?” and him doing it. Amazing. I also got a sweet SE TL from Kirk ($15).
Total spent directly on Kirk’s collection: Approximately $100 for about 20 – 30 discs
Larry Leonard (no relation) was the next to make the switch. Newer players may not know the name like a Climo or a Schultz or a Locastro, but in the early to mid 90’s, LL (as we call him) was consistently one of the top 5 players in the world. He is found on most of the earlier USDGC videos and has a great quote from the 2004 USDGC. After watching distance finals, LL (who has always been a very accurate player and not someone who can throw far) gets his check and says “After watching these guys throw distance….well…I love the yellow rope.”
So LL decided to leave Team Innova and sign with Discraft. Now you have a guy who has been on Team Innova for about 10 years and playing for about 20 years wanting to get rid of Innova stuff. I called him literally the moment I heard about him switching and made an appointment to check out the stash. I picked up a sweet Zonedriven Big Bead Avair ($15), a few CE Eagles ($20 a piece), numerous 8X and 10X Rocs (Approximately $75 for 4) and even a few 9X Avairs ($40 for 2). I snagged a gorgeous flat Ontario Big Bird ($25) there too. I left LL’s house that night with 24 discs that were no longer produced.
Total spent directly on LL’s collection: $330
Justin Jernigan (JJ) was next to move over to Discraft. While he never unloaded all of his Innova stuff and shortly came back to Innova, it was enough to get an amazing mint 1996 World Masters Ontario Roc from him which I traded for a few Discraft drivers. I even got a proto pro wraith ($15) and a Champion SL with a Champion Eagle stamp that was only released to team members ($15) from him. And simply because he is my best friend, he even gave me one of his official team stamped Innova Aviar. Pretty sweet gift!
Total spent directly on JJ’s collection: Approximately $100 for 10 – 15 discs
Logan Sheets followed LL and and JJ and signed with Discraft. While Logan doesn’t play anymore, he really had some serious talent and was making a big splash in North Carolina in 2006. I didn’t get much from him, but I still have a few Logan Sheets 10X Rocs that I got from him.
Total spent of two of Logan’s 10X Rocs: $30
If there is one thing I learned from players switching companies after traditionally throwing another it’s this. It’s amazing what someone will sell a disc for when they can no longer throw it.
It wasn’t just players switching to Discraft, either. Sometimes people just don’t care what they have and are willing to move it. I have always like the first run CFR Glo TL’s and the only thing I could find close to their flight was a good ole 10X Teebird. I got my first at Play it Again in the used bin ($4) and then a few more from Kirk ($20 for 2). In the 24 from LL was a few of these ($30 for 2) but still, not enough to call it a collection.
Mark Southard, a player from North Carolina who briefly toured, had a pretty stout collection. One day I get an email from him that intrigued me. “Hey I know you throw all white and I got an interesting proposition for you. I went home to my mom’s this weekend and found 10 brand new white 10X Teebirds in her attic. I don’t want them. Get me 15 Champion discs, orcs and firebirds to be more specific, and we will call it a trade.”
The next two events I played I made sure in my payout and players pack only to get orcs and firebirds. I was able to snag up 12 so I bought three from a club while at the event ($45). I ran into Mark and made the trade for these gorgeous 10X Teebirds.
Total spent directly on 15 10X Teebirds – $99
It didn’t stop there. I realized the value of all these 10X Rocs now and in my mind, it was pretty pointless to throw a brand new 10X Roc for stable Roc shots, so I wised up and stocked up on 11X Rocs. I sold three newer 10X and used the money to buy 10 brand new 11X Rocs ($5 net spent). A friend of mine, Whit Baker, had about 15 that he didn’t want and we made a trade for those 15 for 10 Champion Firebirds. By this time I was playing Open so I couldn’t just snag up a few at the next event, but I had 8 colored firebirds (so ugly!) that I could part with stashed away from the past. I went to the club and bought two ($30) and made the trade. Throw in roughly 20 of these won in payouts at events and the one I just bought on ebay for $20 and the total amount of 11X Rocs I own is about 45.
Total spent directly on 45 11X Rocs: $55
So 8 years later after that night in Iowa, my $25 dollar rule holds true. I certainly don’t and will never call myself a collector. I’m a thrower. Everything I have that is collectable are things I throw. Everything that is collectable that I don’t throw has already been sold. But when I see the prices being paid for discs left and right, I certainly look back and smile when I think of my $25 rule. But for the record, I’ll be glad to give anyone $25.01 for a white CE Leopard. Ok, $26.