By Mary O’KEEFE
“It’s the flight of the disc.” That is how professional disc golfer Catrina Allen described how disc golf became her sport of choice.
On a recent weekend, disc golfers participated in a two-day tournament titled Canon Ball Run. It began on July 9 at Veterans Park in Sylmar, and then moved to Verdugo Hills Golf Course in Tujunga and on Sunday ended in Wrightwood Mountain High Disc Golf Course.
Organizer Gary Sandoval said the tournament was a perfect combination of courses.
Verdugo Hills Golf Course had been on Sandoval’s wish list for a while but the timing never quite worked out until recently. The administrators of the golf course were very receptive to the idea of disc golf, Sandoval said.
“We would like to have a disc golf course [at Verdugo Hills],” he added.
At first, it was a little odd to see players walking the course with bags of Frisbee-like discs rather than golf clubs but the theory of both games is the same. Get the disc, or ball, into the basket, or hole.
A chain-link basket is placed about 150 to 300 feet from the starting tee area. The goal is to get the disc into the basket with the least amount of throws.
The sport has grown in popularity over the years. In addition to the flight of the disc, Allen said the course and the camaraderie also attracted her to the sport. She is now a candidate for Professional Disc Golf Association Rookie of the Year. PDGA is the governing body for disc golf.
Allen has been touring professionally for about two years. “This is my job,” she said. “Everyone was supportive and encouraged me when I started out.” She added that although the sport is governed and has professional standings, it has maintained its grassroots feel.
“There are disc courses all over the world,” said Suzette Simons, another golfer.
As well as being a player, Simons is also a representative of Innova Champion Discs, Inc. The company sponsors many tournaments including the one earlier this month.
Simons said she discovered the sport in her 40s and has been playing ever since. She was happy that Verdugo Hills Golf Course had decided to host the second leg of the tournament especially since it is so close to Oak Grove Park.
“That is the birth place of [disc golf], at Oak Grove in 1977 it was the first disc [golf] course,” she said.
Now the opportunity to play the sport has increased with more and more ball golf courses diversifying with disc golf. The Canon Ball Run was a successful tournament with about 60 players competing.
The hope is that the popularity of the sport will encourage VHGC administrators to think about making the disc course germinate, sharing the course with traditional ball golfers.
“If you build it they will come,” Simons said.
The cost of the sport is also a big draw with beginning discs starting at $7.
“It is fun, cheap and there are golf courses everywhere. The whole family can play,” said golfer Michele Kirkland.
In the end, Allen took home the Canon Ball Run win for the women’s division, Steve Rico was the overall winner in the open division and Sandoval won the master under 40 division.
For information on disc golf visit www.pdga.com.