The disc masters

Joseph Lord

No azaleas bloomed on these golf courses.

No green jacket was given away.

There weren’t even clubs present; but Augusta National Golf Club wasn’t the only place to find championship golf this weekend.

The United States College Disc Golf Championships were played on Saturday and Sunday at three Bowling Green courses.

About 35 students from four universities competed. Western won the championship with 203 points, followed by the University of Kentucky, Vanderbilt University and the University of Southern Indiana.

UK student Danny Fehrenbach won the overall individual competition.

This was the tournament’s first year.

“It’s going to be a tradition,” said Laura Clark, a UK student and the tournament organizer. “We’re going to keep this going.”

The players threw the discs toward metal baskets that are used in lieu of golf holes.

The baskets rested as far as 500 feet away and were usually surrounded by trees.

“Disc golf is mental; it’s psychological,” Clark said. “It’s almost spiritual.”

Western and Bowling Green are becoming pacesetters in the sport, some players said.

Seven of the four courses in Bowling Green were built within the past four years, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association Web site.

Bowling Green senior Katelyn Traughber said she started Western’s disc golf team in early March by hanging fliers on campus.

The team now has 26 players, 22 of whom competed in this weekend’s tournament, she said.

They’re trying to get recognition as a university organization, she said.

Clark’s father, H.B. Clark Jr. of Bowling Green, has watched the sport evolve at Western.

He started playing disc golf when he was a Western student in the 1970s.

There were no baskets with chains and tee numbers back then, he said. He and his friends would instead use objects around campus, including the base of the Henry Hardin Cherry statue.

H.B. Clark Jr. competes each year in about 30 tournaments around the world.

“It’s a good excuse to travel,” he said.

Some families have basketball goals in their driveway; the Clark residence had a disc golf course around their house, he said.

Laura Clark, who started playing professionally last year, said three of her siblings play disc golf.

H.B. Clark Jr. said there used to be a college disc golf championship, but it hasn’t been played in years.

The game is played out like traditional golf.

Players confidently smiled after successfully hitting difficult throws and grimaced in disappointment after missing easy ones.

Traughber’s disc landed about two-thirds of the way to the hole on the 15th tee at the course at Lovers Lane Park during singles play on Saturday.

She knelt down to her black bag and fumbled through her discs.

“Use a driver,” Laura Clark yelled from where her own disc landed across the fairway.

Traughber pulled out an orange disc, looked at the hole and threw.

The disc veered far to her left.

“When I screw up on a driver it’s unbelievable,” she said to herself. “Damn it.”

The tournament was played over four rounds; two of doubles and two of individual play.

Ryan Thompson, a sophomore from Lynnville, Ind., said he usually plays about 70 holes a week.

He said he and his friends play to relax _ drinking and hollering throughout the round.

The tournament was more rigid because the players had to be courteous, but it was still enjoyable, he said.

“I had a lot of fun,” he said.

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]