Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer is a legend. Simply put. I encountered him as a high school student, where he coached the wrestling team. I didn’t have the stones to go out for wrestling, but one of my future golf buddies did (more on him in question #3.) Skratch Golf and Adventures In Golf found The Destroyer and his one-of-a-WNY-kind golf operation in Akron, and decided to script an episode for him. If you’ve yet to hear about Park Golf, today is your lucky day. Imported from Japan by the great wrestler, a go around 18 holes is a short drive to Akron, NY. The Skratch Golf episode was released this fall, so have a look, then read our interview with The Destroyer!!
1. Tell us about The Destroyer, where he is from, and how he got involved in professional wrestling?
The Very Short Version:
Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer was born in Buffalo, New York, and was a high-school football star who was recruited on scholarship to Syracuse University. He was a starting Guard for the team and served as Captain — and later as Offensive Line Coach, while he was getting his Master’s Degree upon graduation. Legendary Running Back Ernie Davis was on his team when he was playing, and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown was a Running Back while Dick was an Offensive Line Coach under Ben Schwartzwalder. It was while he was playing football that Dick found wrestling. One of his fraternity brothers broke his leg and Dick filled his Heavy Weight position on the wrestling team his Junior year. By the end of his Senior year, Dick Beyer was the State Champion and took 2nd Place in the Nationals. And it was at those Nationals that he was discovered and recruited to become a professional wrestler.
This, of course, is a very condensed version of how Dick Beyer got into professional wrestling. The full story can be found in his latest book, Masked Decisions, available via www.TheDestroyer.com:
2. How did The Destroyer come to settle down in western New York?
He was born here. And after living all of the world — from Texas, Minnesota, Oregon, Hawaii, California, Germany, New Zealand, Japan … he returned to his home in Akron, NY, just outside of Buffalo.
3. Ask The Destroyer if he remembers Tim Cercone, one of his wrestlers from Amherst High School. Tim is also a wonder golfer and a friend of BuffaloGolfer.Com.
When Dad first returned from Japan, he coached Wrestling at Amherst High School — and was there until he accepted the Physical Education Coach position at Akron Central, where he also coached Football and Wrestling. He DOES remember Tim from Amherst High School — and sends this message: Use the cross-face and go for the inside leg!!
4. What did The Destroyer like most about Park Golf, when he discovered it in Japan?
The Destroyer was immediately drawn to the beauty and simplicity of the game — and immediately recognized that this was a game that anybody could play, regardless of age, gender, skill level or even ability/disability. Literally, anybody could play this game and have fun. He also liked that a game of 18 holes didn’t take all day — so people could come and place a round of Park Golf, and then head out to dinner and a movie! Mostly, he liked that it was fun!
5. How many different Park Golf courses did The Destroyer play in Japan?
The Destroyer has played on over a dozen Park Golf courses on the northern-most island of Hokkaido, where this sport originated. Note, there are now 3,000 Park Golf courses throughout Japan, but The Destroyer has a special place in his heart for those in Hokkaido, mainly because Hokkaido reminds him most of the northern States of America!
6. How did The Destroyer and his team settle on the land in Akron?
The Destroyer has owned land in Akron since the 1960s!
7. How challenging is it to keep up the Destroyer Park golf course?
Destroyer Park Golf is maintained daily. Owners/Operators Kris Beyer Jones and Chris Jones, who designed and ultimately built the course, are dedicated to ensuring it meets all of the guidelines set by the Nippon Park Golf Association — and “course beauty” is one of those stipulations!
8. What do your customers like most about Park Golf versus traditional golf?
Destroyer Park Golf customers like everything about Park Golf that The Destroyer did when he was first introduced to it in Hokkaido. It is fun and easy — anybody can play. This means that parents with children, boyfriends and girlfriends, avid traditional golfers and newbies, can all play together and have fun! We remember fondly seeing a father who had brought is son and young special-needs daughter to the Grand Opening of Destroyer Park Golf. The father asked if it would be OK if his daughter just “tagged along” while father-and-son played the game for the first time. Kris Beyer immediately spoke up and said, “You know, she can play, too” — and handed her a children’s club. The father was doubtful as they set off on the First Tee, but by the time he returned after 18 holes, he spoke with tears in his eyes about how thrilled and happy HE was to be able to play an outdoor sport with his daughter — for the first time ever.
Everyone recognizes this game as one that, literally, everyone can play — children, friends, couples. And, it can also be a very competitive game for those who take Park Golf more seriously. In fact, there is even talk about putting an American team together to compete in the Nippon Park Golf Championship Tournament next summer in Hokkaido!
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you would love people to know the answer to? Ask it and answer it, please.
The founders of Destroyer Park Golf are working with a team of professionals to establish the International Park Golf Association of America (IPGAA). The mission of the International Park Golf Association of America, Inc. is to foster and encourage national participation in the sport of Park Golf, while honoring and upholding the ideals, guidelines and standards established by the founders of Park Golf and the International Park Golf Association of Japan, which are aimed at promoting health and fitness of mind and body through friendship and harmony with each other and with nature. This association should be up and running by next season!! Please keep an eye out for it!!