Disc golf is played much like the regular game of golf, except that it is a flying disc game as well as a precision and accuracy sport. As in disc golf, the object is to complete the course in the fewest number of disc hurls. There are 18 or 36 holes to be played in golfing foursomes. The discs are similar to golf clubs in that there is a driver (for long distances) a mid range disc and a putter. Keep in mind that these golf terms apply to the different types of discs used. The discs are weighted and thrown with great speed and accuracy at a basket. The basket, with chains to absorb the shock of the disc and stop its trajectory, was developed by Ed Headrick. The modern disc was designed by Dave Dunipace in 1983.
The sport dates back to the early 1900s although many people are still unfamiliar with the game. Prior to the refinements of the present game, Tin Lid Golf was a popular pastime with school children who threw tin lids at hard targets. The game, as it is played today, started in the early 1960s. Disc golf has had a resurgence it its popularity in recent years, especially among college students. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of disc golf courses doubled and Temple built two for its disc golfers.
The Belton Department of Parks and Recreation sponsored Saturday’s event. Sandy Slade, Parks and Recreation event director registered the contestants but the actual administrator of the competition was Matt Bates, recreation coordinator. Durward (Woody) Durbin was the tournament director.
The general mood of the day, other than to have a great contest, was to promote the idea of a permanent golf site in Belton. The two Parks and Recreation staffers are eager to see this happen.
“This is a high priority on Belton’s master plan,” said Bates who hopes that the two events will demonstrate the amount of interest in this sport. “Belton needs to take its time to build a quality facility, maybe not here in Heritage Park, but somewhere that ensures safe and quality play. We are thrilled to offer this event with such great results and turnout and hope it will result in a disc golf course in Belton.”
With concrete tee pads, tee signs and buckets at $5,000 each, it is a substantial expenditure, but one that everyone feels will enhance Belton and the recreational diversity it offers.
Growing at a rate of 12-15 percent annually for the past decade, a disc golf course in Belton makes a lot of sense. As Durbin so succinctly observed, “we need a course here but, in the meantime, shut up and throw!”
As the day concluded, Belton resident George Castillo emerged as the winner of the open division with Terry Johnson taking the top place in the recreational group. On the 15th hole, Ricky Lopez scored the only “ace” of the tournament. An ace is the equivalent of a hole in one in regular golf.