As the sport grows each and every year, we will see newer companies coming into the sport. At least, we hope it happens for the sake of growth. Well, one of these new additions to the sport is Disc Golf Initiative or the DGI group. This is professional sports agency and brings a whole new life to the sport of Disc Golf. I got the chance to talk to Mark Barber who is partner, VP, and general manager of this group and pick his brain about Disc Golf and what the DGI group is. Enjoy!
To start off, Mark’s passion for the sport started at a young age. Now, not to age him but, he told me “I started playing frisbee golf in 1979 at young life camp in South Carolina.” He was there for a week and explained “that is all I wanted to do, was just go throw.” After young life camp he took his love for the game home with him. There was not an actual course in the area where he lived so he told me “we made up a course in our neighborhood, mailboxes, signs, anything. I still know the course by heart.” He began to rattle off his old neighbor’s mailboxes and stop signs on the street like he was a kid again. Eventually he got to play on an actual course. He said, “I got to play on the first course in North Carolina, but, I played on it with ultimate Discs.” To his credit, “I played ultimate for my college at the time” so he was used to only throwing those discs. However, “I got 2 or 3 discs and from then on my bag grew.” Now, with his busy schedule I figured he would never have time to throw. But, he explained “I can schedule myself to get work done and then go play.” Which is awesome, he still can be so busy but find time still to go throw when he can. So, the Disc Golf bug got to him and he still has it on it.
Now, in case you have not seen social media from all of the pros recently, the DGI group has been all over their timelines. I had to know what this company is all about and Mark helped me gain some knowledge about it. He explained to me that “Disc Golf Initiative or the DGI group is a professional sports agent representation firm, we are sponsor rep agents for tournaments, we have already signed GBO and DGPT.” Basically, they will help grow the sport and reach out to other companies to help sponsor and add to the prize pool. These ideas are common in the professional sports world, most if not all the major ones have agency groups. He explained that “we love Disc Golf, love the game and have backgrounds in marketing and sales.” They are driven by their passion for the game and they see the weakness within the sport. He told me that “Disc Golf is completely undervalued, it is such a co-dependent sport so far, but all of the money has come from within the sport.” Basically, there is no outside money coming to support prize pools, contracts, etc. So, that is where the DGI group steps in and helps. Or, as Mark explains it “we do not want to make discs, we don’t want to get into the sandbox, we just want to throw more toys and sand into the sandbox. We want to start to gain our credibility, get Gatorade, Nike, etc.” It is a complicated idea and something to wrap your mind around on, but, it has a lot of potential. Looking ahead into this year is tough to say for the DGI group since they are so new. The goals for this year are to “Get players the money they feel they deserve and get some tournaments more money and make headway for 2019.” Him and his partner Sam are just getting things started in 2018 so be on the lookout for more updates coming soon.
When it comes to favorite discs and courses Mark had some interesting choices to say the least. His favorite discs were…interesting. Mark told me that “my Vibram Ibex medium plastic at 174g has to be my favorite. I can get some amazing distance and it just flies down fairways.” I can say with confidence that is the first time I have seen someone say that a Vibram disc is their favorite. But, his other favorite disc is even more interesting. His other favorite is “an Innova Sonic putter, you can never find them, but I love them.” A Sonic is something you do not see often, I have never had the chance to throw one so maybe they throw like a dream, but, still a different but cool choice regardless. I enjoy learning about different courses and the one Mark told me about sounds like one for the books. Mark’s favorite course is “the New Quarter course in Williamsburg, VA. It is a two -tee pad course with a little bit of everything mixed in with it, rolling terrain, it is just beautiful.” It sounds a dream and something that I want to visit one day if I can ever make it to the south.
Mark has a wide knowledge of the sport of Disc Golf, so, I had to make sure I got some advice form him. Mark’s advice was sound and simple. It was simply “throw putters, learn to throw slow and smooth and do not worry about the speed. Get good with putters and the rest will come.” This is time and time again the most solid advice I have received. I think that going out and trying to crush drives like Eagle and Simon is the wrong mentality. Practicing the slow discs and slow game is how it is done, and I could not agree with Mark more.
Being the first in your area for a sport is daunting and there will be ups and downs. So, the final thing that Mark wanted you to know is something I had never thought of. He said, “We love the game, it is in both of our lives and we have a deep passion for the game. Saying what I have said it makes it seem as though we want money and only want this for ourselves. Money is something that other sports have that we do not, we want Disc Golf to be the biggest it can be. We do what we do because we love this sport, we want it to become something bigger than we could have ever imagined. We want to help the sport get what it is worth.”
I would like to thank Mark Barber for taking the time out of his day to let me interview him and answer my questions. If you would like to know more about Mark or the DGI group, you can follow him on Instagram @magic_marker. He was a pleasure to talk to and look out for more coming from him and the DGI group very soon! Look out for more coming from me soon as well!
Picture Credit to Mark Barber