Disc Golf World Championships at Como Park draws about 3,000

Maggie Hessel-Mial

Recreational and professional disc golfers from around the world swarmed to St. Paul’s Como Park this weekend for the 2001 Disc Golf World Championships and Flying Disc Festival.

The tournament drew an estimated 3,000 people with 355 participants.

“The world championships is one of the greatest disc golf tournaments there is,” said Rachel Mansir, a competitor from Frederick, Md.

Disc golf, a sport gaining popularity across the country, is similar to conventional golf. Players toss a disc down the fairway and into a basket in as few throws as possible.

To participate in the world championships, a player must accrue a certain number of points throughout a season of tournaments. The Professional Disc Golf Association tabulates point totals. Only the players with the top points are invited to the world championships.

“Worlds is one tournament where everyone comes,” said professional disc golfer and tournament participant Larry Leonard from Raleigh, N.C.

Competition for the singles tournament started Tuesday and ran through Friday, with the top four from each of three divisions playing off Saturday afternoon. Doubles players played the previous weekend.

The divisions include open women, open men and masters for men aged 40 to 50.

Cameron Todd from Georgia won the open men title; Julianne Korver from Iowa won the open women; and Stan McDaniel from North Carolina won the master’s title.

“The sport is really at a grassroots level,” said Greg Rife, tournament director. “It has the feeling of a family.”

Most disc golfers, including close to 10,000 recreational players in the Twin Cities, play disc golf to be outside and spend the day with friends, Rife said.

Commercialism, he said, is just starting to become a part of the tournament.

Booths selling shirts and hats – as well as driver, mid-range and putter discs – were included in the festival’s scenery. Sunday’s activities featured a celebrity event with former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant and others playing a round with disc golf professionals. A
hole-in-one contest was also held.

Mansir said she enjoys disc golf because she finds it fun, competitive and recreational:

“I have a blast even when I play badly.”

Maggie Hessel-Mial welcomes comments at [email protected]