Sports

Nomadic couple follows disc golf tour in RV

Jay and Des Reading rest before a tee shot.
Jay and Des Reading rest before a tee shot.

Home for Jay and Des Reading is wherever they park their RV.

This week's address is Rock Hill, where the only married couple on the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) are walking the Golf Course at Winthrop University hoping to claim the U.S. Disc Golf Championship and the $15,000 first prize.

Next week, their vagabond lifestyle could make Burlington, N.C. home. Or, they might head off in another direction, hook up the RV and chill out to some hot music. How Jay finishes this week will more than likely influence the decision.

Jay and Des, married 12 years, met at the University of Northern Iowa, where she was a standout softball pitcher and he an offensive guard who blocked for two-time National Football League MVP Kurt Warner.

They were introduced to disc golf in college, where Jay used make fun of anyone who took the game seriously and would even use the forbidden "F" word -- Frisbee -- when talking about what they were learning.

But there was something about the sport that got their competitive juices flowing. They worked at the game with the same gusto that made them high school all-staters in their respective sports.

Des turned pro in 1999 and was the PDGA's women's rookie of the year in 2001. Jay got his player's card that same year.

"My learning curve was a little slower," the 6-foot-4, 270-pounder said.

Des won the 2002 World Championship, the first of three, and then teamed with Jay to capture the first of two Pro World Mixed Doubles Championships.

Number two came last year when Jay also teamed with Michael Olse to win the Pro World Doubles.

Four years ago, the Readings decided to hit the road full time, electing to call their RV home. Some might say that living in such tight quarters might cause a strain on their marriage. Jay and Des don't see it that way at all.

"There's not very many negatives," Des, the 2004 and 2005 PGDA women's player of the year, said. "We're traveling all over the country together; we have the same interests. We just live in a smaller space than most people."

Jay said the fringe benefits of traveling the disc golf circuit has more than its share of the rewards.

"Obviously I'm able to be with my best friend," he said. "And, we're getting to see so much of this country."

Disc golf also has taken the Readings to Japan and the Bahamas.

With prize money and sponsors, the Readings say they earn a modest living. But that's fine.

"I've always preferred quality time and experiences over money," Jay said. "We do have great sponsors who help us out."

According to Des, the couple's athletic background has helped them deal with the good days and the bad days.

"We know when to cheer, when to make suggestions and when to back off," she said. "Sometimes after a bad round, you don't need a smother mother. You just have to deal with it."

Des has won eight-of-eight national tour starts this year. Unfortunately, none qualified her for the week's championship, and she failed to get one of the five spots available in qualifying.

This week, she's her husband's caddie, something Jay credits for his quick start. He opened with a 62 on Wednesday and followed that with a 68 Thursday to sit tied for 31st, 6 strokes off the lead.

Like many other PDGA players, Jay and Des are active in the Educational Disc Golf Experience (EDGE), holding clinics for youngsters and working with teachers.

"The future of the sport is with the kids," Jay said. "We've seen the sport grow so much since we started, and it's only going to get bigger."

Des sees the tournament-to-tournament lifestyle continuing for many more years.

"We're healthier and wiser than we were when we started," Des said. "Right now, we're playing our best, and as long as we're competitive and winning, we'll keep at it."

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