A professional disc golf store, Local Route, opened in a small storefront in the Joplin Memorial Plaza Mall at 2210 S. Range Line Road. It’s across from Chick-fil-A.
The shop was opened in April by Tucker Sharp and Paul Hughes, disc golf enthusiasts who promote the sport locally. What they learned was that the name of their shop, the Local Route, which is a kind of disc golf throw, as in “I took the local road”, had already been borrowed by a shop of disc golf in Florida. Sharp said an agreement had been reached that the Joplin store would be the first local route outside of Florida.
Visiting the store changed my perception of disc golf, a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target. Sport has become a nuanced competitive business. Of course, you can always throw a Frisbee at a basket, but the real pros use specific discs to meet the challenge. There are putters, mid-range discs and drivers for distance. The disks are accompanied by stability indices, a reference to their flight characteristics. These aren’t your dad’s frisbees. They range in price from $11 to $30 each, with the average being around $17 to $18. The local road carries about 10 record brands.
But wait – there’s more. Like a professional golfer, a disc golfer needs a designer bag to carry his discs. The typical drive has a minimum of six discs. These are backpacks specially designed for disc golf. There are also three-legged stools that you can carry in your backpack. Who wants to stand there and wait for the slowpokes in front of you to finish? You have to conserve your energy. It’s a tough sport, mind you.
We can thank a man named “Steady” Ed Headrick for designing the modern Frisbee. Headrick added strips of ridges, called “Headrick’s rings”, to the frisbee to stabilize the disc in flight. It was introduced in 1957. He and his son, Ken Headrick, then started the first golf disc business in 1976. They introduced the revolutionary golf disc basket a year later.
It is now one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and worldwide, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association. It is played in 47 countries. There are 25 disc golf courses within 20 miles of Joplin.
If you want to see the sport in action, the Full Turn Open, sponsored by Local Route, takes place on Saturday at McClelland Park in Joplin. Full Turn is a local disc golf business. The game will run from approximately 10 a.m. until noon, then again in the afternoon. More than 50 players registered.
“Everyone is welcome to come watch,” Sharp said. “It’s like professional golf where you can follow your favorite card.”
On the rebound
We’ve heard stories of how local restaurants and hotels have struggled during the pandemic. A recent summary of the accommodation tax by the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau shows how bad it was for local hotels.
Occupancy fell from approximately 61% in 2019 to 48% in 2020. Revenues for 23 properties fell from $35.9 million in 2019 to $27.2 million in 2020. This resulted in lower city revenue from lodging tax of nearly $400,000.
The numbers, as bad as they are, don’t reflect how dire the situation really was in 2020. Pete Hall, Manager of Residence Inn by Marrriott, said: “In March of that year, our industry began to see significant business cancellations. on the books. By the end of April, 97% of our business on the books had been cancelled. It was nationwide.
Hundreds of employees have been laid off. Imagine trying to run a 300-room hotel with only five rooms rented a good night and three people doing everything.
But unlike the east and west coasts, Joplin’s location in the middle of the country would prove to be an advantage.
“What happened to the hospitality industry was unprecedented,” Hall said. “But because we’re sort of isolated here in the Midwest, our recovery started very quickly. By the end of September, we had all of our employees and staff back. Some regions are just emerging from the pandemic. »
Figures for 2021 show Joplin’s hotel market is rebounding. The occupancy rate is 58.8%. Incomes are now higher than they were before the pandemic.
What is important to note here is that there is a direct correlation between the health of Joplin’s hotels and that of its restaurants. If Joplin’s hotels are suffering, so are its restaurants.
“I have to shout out to our colleagues in the restaurant during the pandemic,” Hall said. “They created new business models to survive. When you think about it, it has really changed for all of us since 2020.”
Despite the recovery in 2021, strong headwinds including inflation, rising fuel costs and rising labor costs are now negatively impacting the hospitality industry. The road to recovery might get a little bumpy.