Disc golf receiving recognition in the U.S.

adam vosburgh

amvosburgh09@ole.augie.edu

Watching a colored piece of plastic float for hundreds of feet. Being surrounded by nature or getting some exercise. Whatever your preference may be, hippies are not the only people finding out about the sport of disc golf.

Many natural athletes today are picking up on the sport of disc golf. The modern era of disc golf is upon us, and it is moving quickly.

In its inception, disc golf did not have baskets but targets. Men and women threw their big-lipped discs at light poles, trashcans and other objects. It was not until “Steady Ed” Headrick invented the “disc golf pole hole” that disc golf became a practical sport. Think of disc golf sort of like ball golf, but instead of clubs you have different types of discs.

Golf brands like Mizuno, Callaway, Cleveland, Srixon and Taylormade, could be comparable to disc golf brands like Innova, Discraft, Latitude 64, Discmania and DGA.

Drivers are sharp around the edges allowing them travel upwards up to 500 feet. Mid-ranges feel like an Ultimate disc and are meant to be straight flyers up to 350 feet or so. Finally, putters just like in golf, are meant to be the last disc used to end the hole.

1976 was a defining moment in disc golf history when Headrick approached the Los Angeles Park and Recreation Department about putting in his signature baskets to make a permanent course. From there, history has been made ever since.

Today, there are over 3,000 courses in the United States alone and many more are being installed around the world in such countries as Finland, UK, Germany and Belgium.

In disc golf, they have eight major tour stops throughout the year, but three really stand out. This upcoming year the three tournaments to make a mark, in my opinion, will be the Amateur National  (Am Nats) Disc Golf Championships, the Pro World Disc Golf Championships and the Ryder Cup.

The Am Nats, is a great tournament to view. It showcases up and coming talent from around the United States.

The Pro Disc Golf World Championships are always the biggest highlight. Pros talk throughout the season about winning it all, and this is the stage to do it. This is the time to put up, or shut up, and the disc golf community will be watching.

Finally the Ryder Cup. This is a great tournament because you get to see where the rest of the world is at. The United States usually wins, but look for the Europeans to make a push in the next few years. They are getting young talented players from all over Europe.

The sport is only about 30 years old, and the boom in the sport is being recognized. For the 2012 Worlds in North Carolina, Charlotte hosted 1,125 players and family for the biggest event to date. It was played over five days on 14 different courses. And for players, there were nine pro divisions and 14 amateur divisions.

Now realize that compared to the PGA, the attendance is not very impressive. But what is impressive is how quickly the sport has grown.

The top pros have been around for years and have stayed near the top to claim their dominance in the sport.

Male pros with prowess include Ken “The Champ” Climo who has won 12 Open World Championships and one Masters World championship.

David Feldberg, from Oregon, has been one of the faces of disc golf for years and promotes the sport with relentless heart.

Coming up are Nikko Locastro, Will Schusterick, Paul Ulibarri and Ricky “Socki Bomb” Wysocki.

On the women’s side, there are a few main faces.

Sarah Hokum, a crazy sidearm player, is the past year’s World’s winner. It is insane how a primarily sidearm player managed to win the worlds, but proved doubters wrong this past summer at the worlds.

I believe that the sport of disc golf is moving in the right direction. There are courses popping up locally and typically free to the public.

The only start-up fee would be buying discs. Disc golf discs range between eight and 18 dollars on average. For those who just want to have a relaxing time playing a fun sport it is reasonably priced.

Here in Sioux Falls, Tuthill’s course is considered to be one of the nicest in the area, other than the Big Sioux Recreation’s course.

Just the other day, I saw a small boy who couldn’t have been more than eight years old, and he could throw almost 100 feet. That brought a big joy to my face, knowing that the next generation of players are starting early.

My passion,  or borderline obsession, started just over a year ago at my hometown of Worthington, MN. I had received three discs for Christmas and my dad said we were getting a nine-hole course near our lake.

I did not understand the mechanics of throwing yet, but I was determined to figure it out.

I looked up the discs that I had to find out what they did. I soon realized the driver I had was too powerful for me, but the other two would work. I practiced my mid-range and putter consistently, and soon I was working on mechanics.

You should typically choose a fairway driver, or mid-range for control shots.

Then use that disc to learn how to throw an anhyzer (shot that bends to the right for right handed throwers) and a hyzer (shot that bends to the left for right- handed throwers, and this is the natural way a disc will turn for rightys) and finally, how to throw a straight shot.

Once you have these shots down, work on your fluidity and technique.

Start with these steps and you will soon be a quality consumer of the sport that I, and hopefully you, will love.

Assuming that the sport will grow the way it has been, by the time I will be 50, I will probably be telling the younger generation that I am going south for the winter to disc golf. And that, would be one fantastic life that I would love to live on a daily basis.