Guest Submission: Gary Rees
Once again, the Graceland University Colonel George Barrett Disc Golf Course and the J & B Rolling Hills Disc Golf Course will host the annual singles and doubles disc golf tournaments this weekend. A singles’ tournament at the GU course launches the weekend events on Saturday morning, April 16. Up to 90 competitors from recreational to master and open levels will participate in the competition. Sunday’s program is open to 45 teams at the same levels. Registration is onsite at 8:30 a.m. with tee off at 9:30 a.m.
Brad Carr, Graceland University’s Director and of Student Activities, and Bob Kelly, University Grounds Manager, have been instrumental in designing the two courses and in promoting the sport in Lamoni and throughout Iowa. “We began the Graceland University course with a grant and additional funds from the University in 1999,” Carr said. “The Barrett Course was designed with input from Juliana Korver, former multi-year Pro Disc Golf Association Professional (PDGA) World Champion.” Kelly purchased 30 acres at the I-35 interchange and completed the Rolling Hills course in 2001.
Disc golf is very similar to regular golf. Instead of hitting a ball off a tee, making fairway approach shots to a green, and the putting into a hole with the fewest strokes, disc golfers throw a disc towards a target basket on a course laid out just like golf. The object is to make consecutive throws from the spot where the previous throw landed until throwing (putting) the disc into the basket (hole) with the fewest throws (strokes). Disc golfers and traditional golfers face many of the same obstacles.
Disc golf courses are arranged with different terrain and levels. They have shrubs, trees, and water hazards. Considered a challenging course in the attractive GU campus setting, the Barrett course has a long and wide open front nine holes over rolling hills and around Founders Lake. The back nine has tight fairways and difficult rough. The J & B course is highlighted by different elevations, trees, and out of bounds obstacles. It offers a wide variety of shots and distances. “Lamoni’s disc golf courses are well respected by amateur and pro players throughout Iowa and regionally,” Kelly said. “In fact, three time World Champion Des Reading describes the J & B Rolling Hills Disc Golf Course as one of the five best courses she’s ever played.”
Lamoni was part of the early development of the sport in Iowa. Carr and Kelly have each consulted with other communities to help develop their courses and have officiated at tournaments around the state. With over 300 courses, Iowa is actually third in the country per capita when it comes to number of courses. “We think it’s important to encourage disc golf,” Kelly said. “First of all, disc golf is relatively easy to learn to play – and fun at any level. It can be played by people of all ages. The equipment is inexpensive – no carts to rent or costly clubs or bags to buy. Just a few discs. It’s a great way to join the fitness boom and improve health and quality of life. And the beautiful settings can’t be beat.”
“You don’t have to be a disc golfer to enjoy the tournaments this weekend,” Carr said. “Be a spectator and come out to either of the courses on Saturday or Sunday. Pick a spot on a fairway – or follow one of the golfers. You’ll see that it’s really a joy to be a part of the tournament and marvel at the ability of the players. And then come back the following weekend to play nine or 18 yourself. Bob and I will be happy to introduce you to the sport if you have never played.”
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