Choosing a disc can be difficult, especially when you are just starting out with very little knowledge.
If you go to a local Play it Again Sports store, you can find an array of discs lining the walls or bins full of used discs, depending on the location.
You could spend hours digging through the used disc bin, separated only by their quality, without any luck. Some staff members may have personal experience and can help you select the right disc, while others may know no more than you.
It’s a pretty grueling experience, and at the end of it, you could still walk out with a disc that’s not fit for you.
With its sleek displays, friendly staff, and knowledgeable owner, Mike Batka, Glide disc golf store plays a significant role Madison’s disc golf community.
Where it All Began
Even from 2000 when Batka started playing disc golf, he could see the sports growing popularity and knew, a few years down the road, that Madison was a pivotal place to set up shop.
Inspired by Mike Newhouse’s shop, A Disc’s Throw, at the time, Batka started looking at locations in Madison during the summer of 2007 before settling on a place in February 2008. Glide’s doors opened April 25, 2008.
When selecting the name of the store, Batka partnered up with Derek Wagener who had an apparel line called Glide.
“When I decided to open a shop and was thinking of names, I talked to Derek because I always liked Glide,” Batka said. “The shop was mine and I named it Glide. Derek and I teamed up on the apparel for a few years until we agreed to part ways, and I later bought him out.”
State of Glide Today
Because of its location across the street from Hiestand Park, the shop has seen great success linked to the course.
The park is also the perfect place to test out a used disc’s flight path before you purchase it.
“It was nice to throw the frisbee before purchasing it,” Dillon said. “I could see how it would fly and react to the way I would throw it.”
There is no shortage of discs to choose from, either. Glide displays over 5,000 discs in shop with around 10,000 discs in stock. Their products include discs from top brands such as:
They also sell bags and carts from ZÜCA, Latitude 64, and MVP among others; as well as baskets, apparel, and accessories.
The vast selection and Batka’s knowledge of the discs create loyal customers like Derek Johnson, member of Kronk Disc Golf, a disc golf organization out of East Dubuque, Illinois.
“Mike is a super friendly and knowledgeable individual,” Johnson said. “Glide’s selection is unbeatable and all the employees there are super friendly and helpful to answer any questions.”
The organization of the product is another key feature of Glide that customers comment on, Batka said.
“It feels kind of like a record shop,” Batka said. “Someone referred to us as the Apple Store of disc golf because of the simple and clean aesthetic.”
Each disc is sorted according to brand, model, and plastic. All disc brands are located in the same area–MVP in the front of the store while Discraft is in the back– and models the same. Each plastic of the same model is separated by a thick plastic sheet with a corresponding label. Within a section you can find a plastic in different weights and colors.
If you can’t find the disc you are looking for, the employees at Glide will check their stock or try and order it for you.
Mike of Many Hats
As a business owner, Batka has seen Glide from its start, the move to its current, larger location in 2012, and ten years of business, celebrated by an updated logo, in 2018.
Through the store, Batka has created strong ties to the Madison community. Last January, Glide hosted its fourth annual tournament in which its proceeds were donated to the River Food Pantry. Through its contest, raffle, and lost-and-found disc sale, Glide raised $7,500 dollars.
As of 2020, Glide is also a member of 1% For the Planet. As such, Glide donates 1% of its sales to environmental nonprofits.
Professional disc golfer Aaron DeVries, who won the Glide Series #6 in 2019, believes all of Batka’s hard work benefits the community.
“Mike’s events and social media usage continue to grow the sport of disc golf and shed positive light on our community,” DeVries said. “When I think of a great person and business, I think of Mike and his shop.”
Aside from running Glide, Batka is also a Tournament Director (TD).
To be a Tournament Director for a PDGA event, Batka had to pass a test on the PDGA Rules of Play and Competition Manual. As a TD, Batka must plan an entire tournament down to costs, prizes, the course map, guidelines, sponsor donations if any, schedule, and park reservations among other tasks. All of this can take months of planning, acting as a second job.
Among the many tournaments he has run, the most notable, in Batka’s eyes, was the 2016 PDGA Amatuer & Junior Disc Golf World Championships.
Despite the intense planning required to run a tournament, those who participate in a tournament run by Batka are pleased with their experience.
“Mike is one of, if not the very best, Tournament Directors around,” amateur disc golfer Jack Morris said. “He always runs a great tournament and usually always has a full field. Can’t say anything bad about Mike.”
First and foremost, though, Batka is a disc golfer just like his customers. Highlights of his career include his first ever round at Rogers-Lakewood Park in Valparaiso, Indiana, his first ace on hole 1 at Dretzka Park in Milwaukee, and his first place finish at the Baraboo Lions Open in 2005.
After taking a break from apparel since his days with Wagener, Batka looks to release more environmentally friendly Glide branded apparel this year in 2021.
“Sustainability will be a big part of it,” Batka said. “Our trucker hats are made or organic cotton and recycled polyester. Our new t-shirts will be made of salvaged cotton from discarded industry scraps and polyester from recycled water bottles.”
Batka also looks to rework Glide’s website where apparel and other products will be available this spring.
What Batka really contributes to the future, though, Durand Disc Golf Glow League leader Scott Wenström said, growth.
“The most impressive thing about Glide is their big picture view of disc golf,” Wenström said. “When it comes to growing the sport, Mike certainly has put that to practice through his business. From running tournament series, to charity tournaments, to sponsoring local courses, or assisting new players with advice, Glide is all about the big picture.”