Hello Dogleg Community,
Unfortunately I have some sad news to share. This is not going to be my typical, lighthearted or pun-filled style of post. It is a tribute, a special dedication, to Destin Walch who passed away this past weekend. Destin was a very close, personal friend of mine and fellow Doglegger to the blog. Allow me to share some of my memories as we take a moment to remember Destin.
It was around 10am this past Saturday morning (Nov. 1) that I received a phone call from the wife of a very close, dear friend of mine. The type of call you never want to receive. She told me that Destin didn’t make it—that he had passed a few hours earlier. I got very quiet, I could barely speak. I lost it. I could not believe what I was hearing—no, not Destin, surely this couldn’t be happening right now. It did and I took the news very very hard.. He had finally succumbed to his 6-month fight with liver failure.
Destin was truly a character. He had such an outgoing, friendly personality—the type of person that you enjoyed being around. He had a sense of humor about him that always kept it interesting out on the course. Destin and I first met a little over two years ago stumbling across our blog while searching for disc golf app reviews. He joined the Dogleg crew back in October 2012 and became one of our top bloggers. I remember him talking about how excited he was to find out that we were actually headquartered right down the road from where he was living. Destin had moved down here to GA from Michigan for chiropractic school a few years earlier. I still remember that day I first met Destin in person. It was back on October 3, 2012 at Oregon Park Disc Golf Course where we’d first met up to throw a round. I remember how excited he was to finally meet up with us. He had the biggest smile on his face when he got out of the car and, haha, literally ran up to shake my hand. We had a really good round of disc golf accompanied with good talks. I knew from that moment on that we were going to get along well and be good friends. He was as obsessed with disc golf at the time as I was–and that was pretty awesome.
Destin had a love for the game. He loved talking about disc golf; loved writing about it. The passion that drew him to Dogleg and lead him to write posts for us here at DoglegDiscGolf.com. Destin really helped me grow the Dogleg brand and blog these past two years–especially here locally. He had a passion for writing tutorials for frolfers new-to-the-game, disc reviews, and interesting articles relevant to the physics of disc golf. He helped make several connections to a few larger disc manufacturers and loved reviewing discs they would send us. I went to visit Destin the first time he was admitted to the hospital in late April/May. He had just gotten the then-unreleased Vibram Four20 driver in the mail a week or so earlier. Due to his illness he had not had a chance yet to toss it so he gave it to me to try it out. He would not know that he would never get that chance to ever throw it. That disc would also become the last one he ever gave to me. It has so much more meaning to me now–I’ve already retired it.
Even in the two short years I knew Destin, he quickly became one of my closest friends I had made (outside of work) since living here in Georgia. Our friendship grew with a shared passion for disc golf, determined to help grow the sport, the blog, and welcoming any new friends to the game. Destin always jumped at the opportunity to go play disc golf after work and school. Whenever I wanted to check out a new course in the area that I hadn’t played before, he was my go-to guy to call because he rarely turned down an opportunity. He and I both liked buying old discs and trading them or giving them to friends that were new to the sport to get them started. I remember one time we were out at Perkerson Park DGC in Atlanta and met up with this guy that played alongside us. That guy was fairly new to the sport and I remember Destin giving him one of his extra bags to carry his discs in after we finished the round. He was just like that. He liked telling people about Dogleg and the blog and always coming up with ideas on how to expand it. He was such a fun guy to be around—the kind of guy that always made you laugh when he was around.
We were very competitive when we played disc golf together. At the time we met, neither one of us had gotten our first Aces yet. Every time we’d go out to play, we were determined that this would be the round. With several close ones brushing the chains, we got to where we started filming all of our throws for every short hole we played—you know, just in case we hit that first Ace.. We wanted it on film. Although Destin never got his Ace here on Earth, I like to think that he’s clanging those Aces up there. I hope—at the very least—he’s playing disc golf everyday. He was an Ace in my book, a great friend.
Aside from disc golf, Destin loved music and flyfishing as well. We talked fishing a lot and had mentioned plans about putting together a flyfishing trip. We were even planning a trip this fall with our wives to go up to my grandparent’s lakehouse to fish all weekend.. Destin shared his birthday date with my wife and I’s anniversary as well. I had invited Destin and his wife to our wedding and even thought it was on his birthday, we were very excited that they came. I remember Destin having such a good time there that night. Haha I remember him literally taking my camera and laying on the floor taking pictures and videos of the events. I guess you could say he became our unofficial wedding photographer for the night. If it wasn’t for Destin, we wouldn’t have any video from our wedding.. He took that job upon him out of the kindness of his heart.
Destin had been battling liver failure since the end of April and had been in/out of the hospital a few times during that span. He first told me that he’d been admitted on my 30th birthday. It was a few days later that I was actually able to visit him while he was there. It was hard to see him like that—in so much pain. He was very weak but I was glad I got to see him and talk to him. He had a tough time gaining enough strength and energy the first time he got out of the hospital. It was months before he was able to get back on the course again. And even at that, he could only play a few holes before he’d get too weak and have to stop. We played disc golf only a few times since that first stint, but never able to complete a full round. On August 13, a few friends and I met Destin up at Legacy Park after work for a round. ..That would ultimately be the last time Destin ever got to play disc golf…
He had some more complications a few weeks later and was put back into the hospital the first week of September. He was there over a month before taking a turn for the worst two weeks ago and went into a coma. Just the weekend before they’d moved him out of the ICU down to a normal room. But late that Sunday they found bleeding in his stomach and it didn’t improve any all week. He hadn’t really been able to speak and had to have a trach put in at one point. For awhile he was too weak to speak and could only communicate by writing on a board. He did get to where he could mouth words. His wife told me that last Thursday that he knew he was going, it was time. That he wasn’t scared. That he was ready…
Full of life, that kid. He was much too young. He saw his 27th birthday in the hospital. He truly will be missed and will be thought of every time I hit the course. I would like to think he’s up there watching down, helping my game or either making fun of every tree I hit on a drive. I lost two friends back in high school (over a decade ago), but never a friend as close as Destin.
Later that Saturday that I received the news, I went out on the course here at Legacy Park (last course Destin would’ve played) to reflect on the good times we had. A solo round. Destin sure was a talker, especially when we played. I miss all the good conversations we used to have. This round was extremely quiet though—it was a hard round to make it through. But I knew if he was here and well, he would’ve been out there with me; in search of that Ace. That next day, Sunday, some mutual disc golf friends of mine and Destin’s went out to Oregon Park (first course Destin and I ever played together) and joined me for a Memoriam round for Destin. It was a good time talking to one another and sharing the memories we had of Destin. I felt like he was there with us.
Hole #9 at Legacy Park DGC. This is the hole that Destin and I used to pretty much empty our entire bags—throwing every disc—in hopes for an Ace. In honor of Destin, I emptied half my bag trying for an Ace later that Saturday.
Hole #18 at Legacy Park DGC. After finishing 18 holes, I sat on the creek bank and reflected on the memories and good times we’d had in the two very short years we knew one another.
This has been a really hard week on me..it’s taken me all week to get something going. I’ve been fairly quiet online all week for those of you that follow me on some of my other personal social media accounts.. It’s been more of a reflection this past week and realizing how much we actually take for granted. How short a time we actually have on this Earth. How little time we actually have to make the most of our life. Take nothing for granted. Take a moment, look around, absorb how beautiful nature really is. Enjoy every single breath and moment of life, because no one’s guaranteed tomorrow. It can come and go so fast. Create memories that will last a lifetime—that people will remember you by—a legacy. In the short time I had to know Destin, he did just that. How will people remember you?
➥ To read some of Destin’s blog posts here on Dogleg, click here.
JT & Destin — Walk up to #9 at Wills Park DGC.
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