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A different spin

Published August 31, 2006 12:00 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

SOLITUDE RESORT - Golf galleries sometimes get a little wild, but this was ridiculous. During play of the Utah Challenge disc golf tournament last year, a bull moose crossed the course at this Big Cottonwood Canyon resort causing competitors to stop in mid-throw.

The delay was understandable. Many had never seen a moose.

Distracting wildlife is one of the benefits of taking in a round of disc golf in Utah.

The idea of throwing flying discs - mostly Frisbees - at objects known as baskets, instead of holes, and keeping score while doing it emerged in the 1970s. Disc golfers carry a bag full of "drivers," mid-range discs and "putters" in various weights and flying styles. Sometimes players even roll the discs.

Snowbasin, Brian Head and The Canyons are other mountain ski resorts with courses. You can also play the red rock canyon country in Moab, hit a basket - an elevated metal device - in the Uintah Basin or tour the Utah State University campus with discs in hand. Local community parks scattered across the Wasatch Front make it easy to play a round of disc golf after work.

Like most of the disc courses in Utah, Solitude is open for free play. Players can also buy a lift ticket and get dropped off near the first hole with downhill play from there.

Utah's first, and still most popular course - at least in terms of use - is at Creekside Park, 1650 E. Murray-Holladay Road. The course was built in 1982, soon after the disc golf craze erupted.

"We now get about 4,000 rounds a week at Creekside," says Craig Myrick, founder of Team Utah, a disc golf association he created in 1992 to save the baskets at Creekside course from being removed. "The goal then was about 100 a week."

Tema Utah - tudg.org -- is now a club that organizers weekly leagues and tournaments throughout the year.

The course at Creekside was named the Walter Frederick Morrison Disc Golf Course in 2004 in honor of the man, a resident of Richfield, who invented and patented the flying disc.

Most disc golf courses are designed for beginners and almost all par 3, meaning the throwers should be able to reach the basket from the tee box with three throws. As a standard, holes on a par-3 course average about 450 feet.

The Solitude course, built in 2001, is widely considered as the best in the state and one of the best in the country; No. 18 - a 1,219-foot monster - is easily the most intimidating basket in Utah.

That's just the way 17-year-old Cory Sharp likes them.

"I just like tossing it and watching it go 1,200 feet," said Sharp, who recently finished ninth at the Amateur World Disc Golf Championships in Tulsa, Okla.

The Cottonwood High School student started playing disc golf about six years ago after being exposed to the sport by his father, Steve, and uncle, Scott. He started to get serious about disc golf in 2003 and threw all his skills into the sport in 2003 after "getting schooled" by a competitor five years his junior.

Sharp enjoys the mental aspect of disc golf and says it is probably a lot like golf, a sport he has not tried.

"You can get really frustrated on the course when things don't go right and you have to learn to keep it under control," he said.

Sharp said playing against older and more talented players has driven him to his current level. He credits that with his jump from 90th at the 2005 Amateur Worlds, the top level before turning professional, to ninth this year.

Sharp will be competing at the Full Throttle Utah Challenge Sept. 9-10 at Solitude. He encourages those interested in the sport to check out the tournament.

"It's a great way to get a feel for the game," he said.


Contact Brett Prettyman at brettp@sltrib.com or 801-257-8902. Send comments to livingeditor@sltrib.com.

What is Disc Golf?

Disc golf is played much like traditional golf. But instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc or Frisbee. The sport was formalized in the 1970s, and shares with "ball golf" the object of completing each hole in the fewest number of strokes (or, in this case, fewest number of throws).

A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target, which is the "hole." The hole can be one of a number of disc golf targets; the most common is called a Pole Hole, an elevated metal basket.

As players progress down the fairway, they must make each consecutive shot from the spot where the previous throw has landed.

The trees, shrubs and terrain changes in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles. Finally, the "putt" lands in the basket and the hole is completed.

Disc golf shares the same joys and frustrations of traditional golf, whether it's sinking a long putt or hitting a tree halfway down the fairway.

There are few differences, though.

Disc golf rarely requires a greens fee and players probably won't need to rent a cart. It is designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages, regardless of economic status.

- SOURCE: Professional Disc Golf Association (www.pdga.com)






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