RALEIGH, N.C. — With a flick of the wrist, disc golf has become a visible sport here in the Triangle, where a world champion now resides.
Oliver Beavers, who turns 10 later this year, competed in the PDGA Junior World Championship earlier this month in Peoria, Ill., and won first place in the division for kids ages 10 and under. There were around 28 competitors over the four-round tournament, and Oliver finished 27-under par, one of his best scores so far.
“It was crazy,” Oliver said of winning. “It felt really good, because I didn’t think I was ever going to do this. I was playing against really good players.”
However, with his progression over the years, he built up some confidence and was feeling good entering the tournament.
“This year, I was like ‘oh, I could probably win this,'” he said.
Oliver lives in Raleigh with his family and often competes with brother James in games in the yard at home. They both practice just about every day. With dad’s help, they constructed a disc golf course at home during COVID and have become PDGA members.
Oliver first started playing Ultimate Frisbee when he was 6 and eventually moved on to disc golf, cleaning up his form and technique from watching others. Just like traditional golf, disc golf requires precision and accuracy where subtle changes in the throwing motion can make all the difference.
Oliver also placedfirst in the junior division at this year’s North Carolina Junior Disc Golf Championships and Virginia Junior Disc Golf Championship. He has 10 career wins in 27 events, and he has played a range of players with varying skill sets and experience levels.
Oliver’s favorite course in Raleigh is at Cedar Hills Park, but he and James looked pretty comfortable hitting putts during a practice session on Monday at Dix Park.
Robert Leonard, who lives in Raleigh, is operations and logistics manager with the PDGA. Leonard was in Peoria to witness Oliver’s performance.
“As an official, I couldn’t root for anybody, but as soon as he won I ran over and gave him a big high five,” said Leonard. “Oliver and his brother James have played a lot of local tournaments, and I’ve seen their abilities increase. To win the world championships, that’s the goal of every single disc golfer.”
Putting and hitting those mid-to-close range throws is one of the more challenging facets of the game.
“It’s a really hard sport,” Oliver said. “It just takes a lot of time to get used to. It takes a lot of practice.”
“Disc golf was on an upward trend pre-COVID,” said Jay Pontier, who leads the Capital Area Disc League. “COVID just kind of amplified that. Being a non-contact sport, the soccer players, the lacrosse players, the Ultimate (Frisbee) players who couldn’t play during COVID, they played disc golf.”
You can find a list of disc golf courses in your area on the PDGA’s website. Oliver and James showcase their play on Instagram (@beaversbrosdg).