Disc Golf rapidly climbing the popularity ladder in Eugene

The sport of disc golf, a combination of disk throwing and golf that allows athletes of all skill levels to participate, is ascending the ladder of popularity within the Eugene sports community.

“The disc golf scene in Eugene is actually a pretty awesome one,” Oregon junior Mason Caldwell said. “Everyone is super friendly and outgoing –  if you go out to any of the courses in the area, if you’re looking for a group to join up with, you likely won’t have trouble.”

Just like in golf, disc golfers have a tee box that they must “drive” from towards the basket. Players will then count the number of shots it takes for them to make their disc in the basket, thus resulting in their score. Players are typically equipped with different types of discs such as long drivers, mid-range drives, approach discs and putters to help with the difficulty of each shot.

The sport of disc golf is nearly impossible to trace back to its origin, but the earliest known level of playing traces back to Vancouver, BC in 1926, when a group of kids used tin lids as disks to play golf during a school break.

However, George Sappenfield, Ed Headrick and a group of disc golfers from Rochester, New York are most credited with being the pioneers of disc golf, uniting the sport throughout the country and leading to the creation of the Professional Disc Golf Association.

The greater Eugene area has reaped the benefits from the creation of the PDGA, creating six courses in the area and nearly 50 more in the state of Oregon.

The Westmoreland Disc Golf Course was the original course in Eugene and played host to many Eugene disc golf club tournaments, most notably the Eugene disc golf celebration from 1986-1997.

The Alton Baker disc golf course is an 18-hole course that opened in 2013 and serves as Eugene’s primary disc golf course.

Other courses in the Eugene area is the course at Dexter Lake, the course in Cottage Grove and the ever-beautiful course at Whistler’s Bend, all providing their own specific challenges to disc golfers.

“The most challenging course to play in the area is at Dexter,” Ian Goldberg, president of the EDGC, said. “There is a nice variety of shots requiring both balance and accuracy, but also some very long holes that add to the challenge and fun.”

According to Goldberg, the most difficult aspect about the disc golf scene in Eugene is how few courses are available to the public. In order for the sport to grow, more courses are needed and a goal of “4-6 courses over the next five years” is a reasonable one.

For Oregon students, the UO Ducks Disc Golf Club is the best way to get involved and has a large and growing number of members, including Jake LaPutka, the Advanced Arms World Champion.

“The UO Disc Golf team is a fully legit UO club sport – student managed and overseen by the UO Club Sports office,” UO Ducks Disc Golf president Cory Higdon said. “Our primary objectives are to create a community of collegiate golfers focused on growing the sport, educating people about our sport, helping groups like the EDGC and motivating each other to realize academic success.”

To become more involved in the disc golf scene in Eugene, anyone can attend the public Eugene disc golf meeting on Thursday, August 7 at Rogue Ales Public House.

“The level of play among competitive golfers here (in Eugene) is world class, and there is an ever-growing number of tournaments available to them,” Goldberg said.  “We also have an enormous amount of casual golfers also.”

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