A flick of the wrist. A basket with chains. A solid, brightly colored, plastic disc. The essentials when going out for a round of disc golf, well these, and a love for the new club sport on campus.
“SAU disc golf club wants to help teach and promote disc golf on campus and allow more advanced players to have some competitive opportunities in the Quad Cities, Tim Byrnes, captain and president of the club and team, said. “As well as improve the visibility of the sport in the area.”
If you’re not even sure what disc golf has to offer except a different sport to play in those high school physical education classes, think again.
“One of our main goals of the club is to serve as an educational source to people who are new to the sport and not just focused on competition and it’s open to anyone,” Byrnes said. “It’s a sport with great fellowship and camaraderie about it.”
“Disc golf [is for] everyone from a big stature to a small stature, men and women all can play this sport, Matt Harrington, assistant captain, said. “There’s no requirements or restrictions, I personally know a retired gentleman who competes and beats many of us ‘young guns.’”
The club was started last year and ever since its membership has grown. The social sport is for any level player and might just be perfect for a college student looking to get away from the residence halls for a while.
“My friends introduced me to the game…as a sport that I could play without fear of damaging my knees [after 3 ACL surgeries],” Harrington said. “Over time it went from a replacement sport to something that I truly love.”
“I started it as a hobby,” Byrnes said. “Something that wouldn’t be too expensive and something I could get good at.
The club meets once a week, weather permitting, at courses throughout the QCA including their most frequented just down the road at Eastern Avenue Park. Their club advisor is Ron Ferrill, SAU women’s softball coach, and their coach is Ben Callaway the 2011 disc golf amateur National Champion.
“He comes out with us…providing a little bit more of a professional guidance and helps out newer, younger members,” Byrnes said.
The team has sent members to over ten Professional Disc Golf Association tournaments this season alone. Members have reached top spots in eight of those resulting in merchandise prizes sporting stores in the area. For example, Iron Lion, a kind of disc golf pro shop located in Rock Island, is also a big supporter and fan of the SAU club team.
Just this past Saturday, Byrnes and Callaway represented the team at the Iron Lion sponsored tournament Running With the Devil in Bettendorf. Byrnes placed 12th out of 55 men in the advanced. Callaway professional placed 2nd losing by only a couple strokes.
“One of the most interesting things about the sport [to me] is you don’t just throw it and it goes straight where you let it go, like a baseball or football, it almost has a mind of its own once you let go and learning how to shape that line and get control of the disc is part of the craft,” Byrnes said.