Menickelli nets grant, book contract

Justin Menickelli, associate professor of health and physical education at WCU, received a mini-grant of $500 from the Professional Disc Golf Association on July 2, and has accepted an offer from Triumph Books in Chicago, Illinois, to publish his work, “The Definitive Guide to Disc Golf.”

Justin Menickelli

Justin Menickelli

The book has been officially endorsed by the PDGA and will be part of the publisher’s spring 2016 catalog around April 1.

The project started as a textbook for Menickelli’s disc golf class at WCU.

“There are, maybe, 20 disc golf classes offered for credit across the United States,” Menickelli said. “I accepted this offer over three others, including two reputable textbook publishers. The market for a guide to disc golf is much bigger than a textbook alone can meet. I feel that Triumph will utilize its resources and contacts to help promote the benefits of lifelong physical activity to a substantial audience.”

The 25-year-old Triumph publishing firm has partnered in the past with many sports organizations such as the PGA, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAA and NASCAR. Their authors include sports achievers Mike Ditka, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Bobby Hull, Mario Lemieux, Jennie Finch, Tim McCarver, Walt Frazier, Ken Venturi and Arnold Palmer.

“There will be a lot in the works next spring, including travel to disc golf events to promote the book,” Menickelli said. “The sport grew 17 percent just last year, while participation in golf decreased.”

Menickelli said the appeal of the sport is due, in part, to advantages over golf in the ease and economy of constructing a course, the reduced time of play and its simplicity. “Yet the amount of movement and exercise, research shows, is about the same,” he said.

For those reasons, he chose it as an activity to share with an audience that might not have been exposed to it before. Working with Chris Tuten, visiting instructor for health and physical education, Menickelli introduced the sport to University Participant students at a UP end-of-year cookout in 2012, and wrote about the experience for the PDGA web newsletter.

Based on the experience, Menickelli’s proposal for the PDGA innovation grant was to conduct a disc golf workshop for students in the UP program, teaching fundamentals, rules and strategies while also emphasizing it as an inclusive sport.

It’s early in the planning stages for the workshop, but Menickelli said, “I may involve my disc golf class students and do it as a weekly event.”

Disc golf has been a popular intramural activity at the university for several years. In 2007, Menickelli and Tuten created a 12-hole course (now 13, with a practice basket) on the WCU campus called “Catamount Links”, and in 2009, hosted a Disc Golf Field Day for 22 physical education teachers in Western North Carolina. He was interviewed about his passion for the sport by the Smoky Mountain News in 2010.

More information about the innovation grant is available on the PDGA site at