11 years ago I photographed my first World Championships in Kalamzoo, Michigan. I was blown away seeing all of the professionals in real life. As we were watching the MPO final 9 my boyfriend Chris pointed out a kid on the hill and said I should get his autograph. I knew very little about him at the time, he was from California, had long hair and great potential to become a great disc golfer. As I handed him a pen to sign the disc he said, “you know who I am?!” He was just so excited to be there watching the action unfold. That kid was Paul McBeth.
Disc golf has meant so much to me but at the Ledgestone Insurance Open this year I was seriously questioning my WHY as I was driving to Lake Eureka to cover the MPO. I wanted to do more for the sport in ways I couldn’t verbalize just yet. That was when I met Wayne Glabe, well kind of. I noticed him walking out to Hole 1’s tee pad taking pictures of the lead card from his cell phone. He was an older gentlemen and I just liked his spirit, so naturally, I photographed him and at the end of the tournament I got a photo of him with Paul McBeth after he accepted his award.
Paul had one of the most genuine smiles and the fan was so surprised that I wanted to photograph the two of them together. This sentimental moment was stuck in my head for days after the tournament. I shared the photo on social media and people wanted to know more about him, so did I, and I wanted to send him a print. The only problem was I did not get any of his contact information, I did’t even know his name.
It took the whole disc golf community to come together and find him. I wrote a short story about it where over 6,000 people read it in the first week: The Fan That Stole My Heart (click here). If you haven’t read part one. I urge you to read that first before continuing on here…
I sent Wayne Glabe a formal letter and print of him and Paul McBeth from their encounter at the Ledgestone Insurance Open. He was very excited to hear that I had found him and we made plans to reconnect at Worlds. He called me back when he received the print package in the mail and left me a voicemail:
“Lauren, Wayne Glabe from Washington, Illinois. What a joy to receive your picture and write up in the mail today. UNBELIEVEABLE! Thank you for the honor that I do not deserve. My wife and I love the picture, and how can we thank you enough?
Today it will be in a frame and put on the wall. Just thank you for making today a good day of remembrance and appreciation. Thank you for your excellent deed that means a lot to our family. This will be shared and they will be surprised to see a picture on the wall. We look forward to seeing you at the next event in Eureka. We love what you did and what you are doing. May God bless you in special ways. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
His voicemail left me in tears, I called him back thanking him for the lovely message. And had hundreds of notes not only from the disc golf community, but his family for sharing this story. The best of all was from his daughter who just couldn’t believe the amount of support from our disc golf community, but how loved it made Wayne feel and what it meant to them. I still tear up thinking about it.
I arrived at Worlds carrying this weight with me. I looked all over for Wayne on Friday but didn’t see him until the final day. I had just finished covering the FPO final round at the Sunset Hills Golf Course. I was in the Lake Eureka parking lot and had only 20 minutes to prepare myself for the final round. My mouth was full of chips when I heard someone call out to me, “Lauren, someone is here to see you.” I knew who it was and almost spit the food out of my mouth shocked: WAYNE?! “Yes.” He had been looking for me for hours, asking everyone where I was.
Quickly, I grabbed my phone and camera and went to greet him. He was wearing the same shirt from Ledgestone. We chatted for a few minutes about the tournament and where Paul was at. He showed me that he had the UDisc app to follow the scores and took a picture of us together. I also captured a moment of us, it was 2:11pm, a few minutes until tee time. I got him a bottle of water and made sure he had everything he needed. He got a front row seat in the UDisc booth to watch the MPO lead card tee off on hole 1 and off we went.
Leaving Wayne behind in the crowd, I briefly chatted with Paul when walking to the basket on Hole 1, mentioning that he was here. Paul had seen him on the sidelines and I told him that Wayne was my number one priority today. I asked friends throughout the event if they had seen Wayne and if he needed water or anything.
I captured Wayne on Hole 17 by the Ledgestone Insurance sponsor sign but lost him in the crowd soon after. It was a close battle for first, but after Paul made the winning putt and the crowd went wild, Wayne appeared out of nowhere on the 18th green! He wanted to get the first fan photo with the 5X World Champ. He even greeted Paul before some of his card mates had the chance to. That’s when McBeth hit the Grand Slam and gave Wayne his winning putters from the tournament.
Wayne sat front row at the awards ceremony with David Greenwell right behind him. He cheered people on and was the first person to greet Paul from the stage where I was able to capture their picture again, in the same spot as Ledgestone. Wayne got his new World Champ putters signed and I could see a part of that excited kid that I met on the hill at the 2008 Worlds, only now the 5X World Champion, with one of disc golf’s newest fans.
While I am still pinching myself here, did this really happen?! Paul really brought it full circle and now it is time for me to, from here I plan to send Wayne a photo album to share with his friends and family.
Telling these stories have also given me a new light and perspective on the stories that need to be told. Since Ledgestone, I have created a new social platform specifically for my disc golf work at @thediscgolfphotographer on Instagram and Facebook (website coming soon). After all, sharing stories from the heart is what it is all about and what I love to do. I’m just so happy to have a new best friend in Wayne Glabe in a sport of I have been connected to for years and continues to surprise me everyday.
This story was written and photographed by Lauren E. Lakeberg
(The photo of myself and Wayne below is by JomezPro)
The disc below was signed by Paul McBeth at the 2008 World Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the first time I met him.