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Down range

B-CS courses support student disc golf appetite

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 20:10

Texas A&M is a great place to go to school for fans of just about any sport. The University’s commitment to athletics extends even to some lesser-known sports that are growing in popularity on campuses around the country. With virtually no barrier for entry, a strong and growing local community and a course located right here on campus, disc golf is quickly becoming the alternative sport of choice for Aggies looking to try something new.

Disc golf’s concept is fairly self-explanatory. The game is played much like regular golf, with players trying to throw discs into a basket made of chains in the least amount of throws possible. Discs are for the most part smaller and heavier than the average Frisbee, and advanced players combine different disc types with different throwing techniques depending on what kind of shot the situation requires. That might sound complicated, but for prospective players, there is a lot to like about disc golf, most of all the sport’s low bar for entry.

“It’s a really easy sport to pick up and play,” said senior geological information systems major Kyle Glaeser, who began playing disc golf after having played Ultimate Frisbee for a while. “All you need to know how to play is throw a Frisbee and it’s pretty much free.”

Unlike traditional golf, which can require players to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment and club memberships, disc golf is a relatively low cost sport. A decent set of discs can set a player back around $25, but public courses are usually free.

“Disc golf is great because it doesn’t really cost any thing to play,” said senior horticulture major Colin Wickstrom. “You can just grab your discs and go out to the park whenever you want, you can play while you walk your dog, whenever.”

The casual nature of disc golf lends itself to a variety of levels of competition — it can be played alone in a city park or in an organized professional tournament—and there are courses scattered all over College Station that are open every day from sunrise to sunset.

Wickstorm and Glaeser have both been playing disc golf for less than a year, but they are already members of the Professional Disc Golf Association—or PDGA—as well as a local organization, the Brazos Valley Disc Golf Club.

“We started playing disc golf because we wanted a casual sport to play and disc golf is pretty much the most casual one there is,” Glaeser said. “We both ended up getting really competitive about it. Now we make good money playing in tournaments on the weekend.”

Professional disc golf tournaments are held year-round across the country, and there are multiple championships to be held by career players. As might be expected given its semi-underground status as a sport, disc golf is quite popular with college students across the country. This year, the Colorado State University team won the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship. Smaller schools that are less competitive in NCAA sports often have a good chance of coming out on top in a national disc golf tournament because the teams are smaller and not dependent upon recruiting.

Though A&M does not have an official disc golf team, the sport has something of a history with other Texas schools. Students at Rice University in Houston have held disc golf tournaments as far back as 1964, and once a year the state’s capitol plays host to the largest team disc golf tournament in the world. Each college in the SEC except for Texas A&M has at least one unofficial team representing their school in collegiate level tournaments.

“One of the things I want to see happen at A&M is for there to be a disc golf team that can play against other schools in tournaments,” Wickstorm said. “Some of us tried having a University-sanctioned club last year, but it didn’t end up working out. I think it will happen soon since more people are starting to get into it.”

The sport’s growing level of popularity can be seen in the nine courses in the Bryan/College Station area. The course nearest to campus is located at Research Park. There are also courses at Oaks Park, Wolf Pen Creek and Byran’s First Baptist Church. The Research Park course attracts a number of students and locals, not all of them die-hard disc golfers.

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