Born and raised in the wooded setting of midcoast Maine, Brian Giggey (PDGA #43808) received his Master’s in Landscape Architecture in May 2010 from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. A traditional golfer since he was 6 years of age, Brian took to disc golf immediately when he first started playing with his friends at The University of Maine almost 10 years ago, and is now endorsed by the game’s leading manufacturer, Innova Disc Golf, as a sponsored player and a member of the Innova Ambassador team. The mental toughness and shot shaping needed to succeed in the sport of disc golf captivated him, while the interaction with nature was something he knew he would continue to study throughout his education in both undergraduate and graduate work.
The movement of people paired with the restorative benefits of nature were two things that fascinated Brian as he progressed through the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at UMass Amherst. Studies on topics like waste water management, combined sewer outflows, wayfinding and the soundscape of place were particularly interesting to him. As Brian played more and more courses, the void in the game that he saw was something that is so simple, yet incredibly necessary — signage. Proper wayfinding proves to set people at ease, as knowing where you are at all times and markings of human existence in a place are incredibly important in people’s desire to want to return again. With almost every course focusing soley on the design and layout, Brian, who is also a PDGA Certified Official, decided that Explore Disc Golf’s niche would be in using the course as a framework to educate the public — from disc golf fundamentals to the restorative benefits of nature.
Brian has a huge passion for music and business, one that has been proven by his years of show-going, consulting, street teaming and tour managing. Upon entering UMass Amherst in Fall of 2007, Brian came across Savannah, GA-based one man band, Zach Deputy while at a festival. Working together over the years, Brian eventually took Zach disc golfing in April 2008 — and the obsession was on! Purchasing disc after disc, the two became completely ingulfed in the sport. Eventually, Brian joined the road crew as Zach’s tour manager from 2009-2011, where their nationally touring schedule would take them to some of the most gorgeous disc golf courses in the country. It was at this time that Brian’s library expanded significantly, as each course, tee pad, sign and design was noted with pictures, videos and sketches. After Innova Discs made Zach a Celebrity Ambassador, the touring schedule soon became packed with performances at disc golf tournaments, headlining disc golf themed music festivals and hosting events when possible. Brian continues to strive to bring music and disc golf closer together — his Master’s Project was entitled “The Soundscape Planning of Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA” — a soundscape plan and design for a 7,000 outdoor amphitheater that can be downloaded here. A terrific use of space, small scale disc golf installations of a couple temporary holes can fill out the property and offer a passive form of recreation that will hopefully continue to grow in popularity, ultimately bringing disc golf to more music establishments that wish to provide their patrons with a fun outdoor activity prior to the performance.
Now residing in Western Massachusetts full time, Brian and his team at Explore Disc Golf are excited to be working with Universities, park systems, ski resorts, music festivals, campgrounds, private residences and entrepreneurs to bring disc golf course facilities and education to the Northeast and beyond. Always looking to grow the sport anyway they can, the team has started The Explore Disc Golf Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that aids disc golf growth and course development through a variety of educational outlets, sponsorships, grants, donations and direct services.
Zeena was born and raised in Western Massachusetts. Growing up she spent a lot of time outdoors, camping and hiking with family and friends. Born an artist, she spent a lot of time drawing, painting and creating art using a variety of media. After graduating from Agawam High School in 1998 her artistic talent led her to study graphic design at Suffolk University in Boston, MA. Although she enjoyed every minute of it, she quickly realized that the outdoor element was missing from this field. She did not continue at Suffolk the following year. She did however, stay in Boston, exploring the city, developing as a young adult, enjoying the live music venues that would fill the void of green space, and keeping creative.
Wanting to merge her love of art and outdoors, Zeena made her way back to Western Massachusetts in 2006 to persue a degree in Landscape Architecture at UMass Amherst. Her studies there taught her many new concepts that would merge the art and beauty of creating outdoor spaces and sustainability. It was also during her time at UMass that she was introduced to the sport of disc golf. She fell in love with it immediately! It seemed the perfect avenue to bring people to the many acres of beautiful, undeveloped land across New England. Disc golfers are naturally drawn to the outdoors; enjoying the physical recreation of the sport while learning about the the elements that make it up — native vs. invasive or edible vs. poisonous, for example.
It is now one of her goals, as co-founder of Explore Disc Golf, to bring elements of Landscape Architecture into disc golf course design. She is most excited about how each hole lends itself as an opportunity as a designed space that may encourage a player’s gaze in the direction of an old walnut tree where he or she may find a sign describing the tree and it’s nut, with a table to encourage rest and relaxation while the player enjoys the nut in it’s raw form for the first time. Or, how the player may find himself in a grove of birch trees and sculptures that play with the day’s light in some wondrous way. Her goal at Explore Disc Golf is to create courses where players have to “stop for a moment” and enjoy the great outdoors while growing awareness on the importance of its care.