Photo courtesy of Lawrence Stanley
When Oakland University freshman Ayden Roupe told me he was a professional disc golf player, I quite literally laughed out loud. It wasn’t until he produced a pro card from his wallet that my chuckling stifled.
“My pro card is a document that proves my status as a disc golfer,” Roupe said. “It shows that I am recognized as a player registered with the Professional Disc Golf Association.”
The sport is simple, only requiring a disc and access to a course. Disc golf rules are similar to traditional golf, each throw of the disc counts as a ‘stroke.’
The objective of each hole is to get the disc into the disc golf basket in the least amount of throws possible. At the conclusion of the round, the player with the lowest cumulative score wins.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced many sports to be placed on hold, disc golf was one of the rare activities that escaped the shutdowns. Soon, ‘folfers’ flocked to once neglected disc golf courses to regain a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos.
“Disc golf is what got me through the pandemic,” Roupe said. “It was an individual activity that allowed me to leave the house safely — once I started getting good at it, I decide to start competing.”
Roupe’s introduction to disc golf parallels that of many other athletes. In fact, the Professional Disc Golf Association (the official governing body for the sport) saw a dramatic 84% increase in new players throughout 2020.
In the past, disc golf was seen as a casual hobby enjoyed by unruly teenagers. Today, it is respected as a legitimate sport for all ages with competitive events popping up worldwide.
“Last year, I attended the state tournament for disc golf,” Roupe said. “I managed to place 4th in the state for the 18 and under division.”
While competitions draw players with a competitive spirit, the allure of disc golf is that it can be enjoyed in a relaxed, casual atmosphere as well. Instead of attempting to beat another player’s score, you may instead challenge yourself against the course.
“I would say I play disc golf in a relaxed setting most of the time,” OU freshman Eien Vanriper said. “Oftentimes my friends and I don’t even keep track of our scores—we just test out new skills and throwing techniques.”
Evidently, disc golf is a rising sport that has provided a unique form of comfort to players of all ages and abilities amidst the pandemic. Whether it be enjoyed in a competitive or casual environment, the sport is sure to captivate any individual lucky enough to get their hands on a disc.
Is disc golf starting to sound intriguing to you? Fortunately, you can get your start right on campus at Oakland University’s very own Grizzly Oaks disc golf course.
Grizzly Oaks, located in the woods between the upper athletic fields and the Meadow Brook Amphitheater, opened in 2009. Although labeled ‘challenging’ by some, Grizzly Oaks promises a fun round of disc golf to individuals of all abilities.