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Disc golfers prepping for historic Sheboygan Pickle Open

The Pickle Open is a 30-year Sheboygan tradition.
Steve Held disc golf
Posted at 9:06 AM, Jun 21, 2024

SHEBOYGAN — Steve Held grew up just a few streets away from Vollrath Park in Sheboygan, the place that sparked his interest for disc golf, or as it was known then — frisbee golf.

"I was able to cut through the neighbors' yard and that's where I spent a lot of my days...running the hills," he recalled.

Now, disc golf is much more than a hobby.

Steve Held disc golf
An action shot of Steve Held on the disc golf course.

Held earned the title of "Champ of the Wisconsin Disc Golf Pro Masters Tour" six out of the last seven years, and this weekend may be another opportunity for Held to wear the victor crown — at the Pickle Open.

It's a 14-division disc golf tournament celebrating its 30th year in Sheboygan.

And it all started with a man called "Pickle."

When Held was a kid, he said Mike "Pickle" Mueller would be set up at a picnic bench with a rainbow of discs scattered across the table. That's when Held knew he caught the bug.

Mueller was an ambassador for the game, a local competitor who also ran "The Shack" disc golf shop with his wife for nearly a decade.

It's now run by another married couple, Dennis and Patti Wild — disc golf enthusiasts who hosted their tie-dye wedding at The Shack in 2003.

Dennis and Patti Wild's wedding at The Shack in Sheboygan

“It’s been a sport where everybody is accepted," Dennis said. "It doesn’t mater who you are, where you are, where you came from.”

Mueller passed away in 1988.

A few years later, the disc golf community started the Mike "Pickle" Mueller Memorial Open at Vollrath park, which is widely believed to be the oldest 18-hole course in the state.

"I didn't get to start until I was 22-years-old and I grew up ten minutes from the park," explained Pickle Open Director Brandon Watson. "So I wanted to make sure nobody else missed out due to lack of exposure."

Watson assumed his role in 2015 and said he's done his best to honor Mueller's legacy.

“That compliment — 'He would have been proud' — is the reason I do this," Watson noted. "It's not for profit, it's not for anything else. I'm here to make sure that our discgolfers who come to Sheboygan have a great experience."

“It starts here," Held added. "It’s grown to Madison, it’s grown to Milwaukee, it’s grown all over the state.”

According to UDisc, there are 445 courses around Wisconsin.

Held said like Mueller, "there's something to be said about the individuals that got it started here and kept it going... It's just a great thing."

Due to construction at Vollrath, the Pickle Open will be held at Jaycee Quarry Park, 3401 Calumet Drive, on Saturday.