BY JAMES BELL
Disc golf players from all over the region came to Hays for the 37th annual Frontier Open at Frontier Park this weekend.
Since 1984, players have taken to what is now the state’s last remaining latitude course.
It was the fourth in Kansas, according to the Kansas Disc Golf Association, with the first three courses redesigned or removed.
“It’s a fun course,” said Trevor McMurray, Salina, who attended the junior event. “With a few monster shots, at least for us, junior-wise.”
He was particularly impressed with the first hole teeing off over Big Creek.
Bryton Unsworth, a resident of Hays, played in McMurray’s group and also said he liked the place.
“Honestly, the layouts they currently have are really fun, I really enjoyed them,” said Unsworth. “There are some hard strokes, some birdies available that you should go for because they can boogie easily.”
“The Frontier Disc Golf Course, which is set in 75 acres of parkland, has natural difficulties including water hazards from Big Creek and heavily forested areas with creative elevation views,” said the KDGA. “The greatest potential hazard in tournament play during the Frontier Open is not so much the court but the wind of Mother Nature. Tournaments are played in all weather conditions, except life-threatening ones, and test a player’s skills.”
The course was the 113th in the USA, originally built as disc golf, gained recognition and increasing popularity.
“The concept of the game was to create a recreational sport that would be free for local citizens,” said the KDGA. “The city provides the course and the players provide their equipment.”
Though the course dates back to the 1980s, the game itself was played in Hays by Fort Hays State University students long before that.
“The players included Ron Rice, Karen Elder, Les Dreiling and Deb Ewy; most of them were college students,” the KDGA said. “Fort Hays security officials rejected the activity because they believed the disc golf students were damaging the grass. Although names and faces have changed, disc golfers now have a spot next to the bison in Frontier Park, which is less than a mile away. “
Together with the Hays Parks Department, these players would design and build the Flying Bison Course.
“Rice left university in 1976,” said the KDGA. “In 1982 he became an employee of the parking department of the city of Hays. He is currently still employed by the city as a parking technician and will be 36 years old.”
There are now more than 8,000 courses in the US and a growing number overseas with more than 2,500 tournaments a year, they said. And the sport continues to grow.
Check out some of the tournament promotions below.