Originally created 04/27/97

It's smooth sailing for Disc Golf



As we approach the 21st century, it seems fledgling sports are popping up everywhere. One in particular is under the spotlight here in the Augusta area this weekend.

The first two rounds of the 7th Annual Augusta Disc Golf Classic were held Saturday at Riverview Park (pros) and Pendleton King Park (amateurs). The final two rounds begin at 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. today, with the pros at Pendleton King and amateurs at Riverview. The tournament is being sponsored by the North Augusta Sertoma Club.

Seven-time world champion Ken Climo of Clearwater, Fla. leads the pros after the first two rounds by three strokes over Ron Russell. Climo shot 46 in the first round and 43 in the second to finish the day with a 19-under-par 89. In the women's division, Beth Turner leads by 12 strokes with a 116.

When the sport was first introduced to Augusta, it was an easy sales pitch. Golf-crazed Augustans looking for an alternative now had another option. The cost is free, and it's much less frustrating to throw a Frisbee than it is to hit a golf ball. The first disc golf course in the area was completed in 1989 at Pendleton King. The following year, Pendleton King hosted the inaugural Augusta Disk Golf Classic. Riverview's course was opened last July, when it held the Amateur World Championships.

"We put the course up (at Riverview), and Disk Golf just exploded in the area," Augusta Classic Tournament Director Brian Graham said. "It's a sport that is appealing to people of all ages. It's a whole lot easier than hitting a ball with a stick, and it's very affordable."

Graham, who also heads the Augusta Disk Golf Association, has played in pro tournaments around the country for two years. He said that Disk Golf has grown throughout the country through such local clubs.

The rules of Disk Golf are analogous to those of "ball golf." Most courses have 18 holes, and scoring is the same as in golf. The key difference is that a disc slightly smaller than a Frisbee is thrown at a target in Disk Golf, instead of a ball being hit into a hole.

The target, which is called a "Pole Hole," is about five feet high, and consists of a large basket supported by chains. According to the rule book, "The disc must be supported by the chains or the basket to finish the hole." Players tee off at markers which are, on average, about 300 feet from the Pole Hole. Any throw within 50 feet of the Pole Hole is considered a putt. Disk Golf courses are often laid out in areas with diverse terrain, and natural obstacles provide intriguing challenges to the players. All holes are par 3.

Disk Golf descended from what is known as "object golf." For example, before the Pole Hole was invented in the early 1970s, players would use trees or other such objects as the target. The first national tournament was played in 1975 in Milton, Fla.