EFFINGHAM — Not many outside of the sport know just what disc golf is, according to Effingham native Joseph Garland.
“Disc golf is a growing sport, and I want the area to be able to enjoy it as well. I want people to know what it is,” Garland said.
In his quest to familiarize the Effingham area with disc golfing, Garland will host a tournament at Effingham’s Community Park. The Battle at the Crossroads Effingham Open disc golf tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 12, with registration starting at 8 a.m.
This is the tournament’s inaugural year, and Garland said over 30 participants have already signed up to play.
“We currently have 35 people signed up in anticipation of getting over 50 by the end of the week. Currently, the people who will travel the furthest for the tournament are one person from Manito, Illinois, just south of Peoria, and one from Scott City, Missouri, near Cape Girardeau,” Garland said.
Disc golfers will play two rounds of 21 holes each, and players will be split into groups of four and start on different holes. Garland said the tournament is for players of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals.
Since he picked up the sport in high school, Garland said he’s found that not many people know exactly how disc golf works. He said the rules of the game are very similar to that of regular golf.
In disc golf, players throw a disc from a tee into a basket with as few throws as possible. Garland said much like golf clubs, there are differences in discs, including weight, flight pattern and type—drivers, mid-rangers or putters.
There are local courses that disc golfers can play at, too, Garland said. There is an 18-hole course at Community Park, which Garland said he likes because of its different obstacles, elevation changes and mix of long and short distances for throwing.
Garland said when the Wonderland in Lights display goes up at Community Park, the course takes a different layout as to not interfere with the lights.
Teutopolis also has a course in its park. Garland said this nine-hole course is more open and suited for beginners.
Garland said what he enjoys most about the sport is that it’s something everyone can do.
“To play disc golf, someone just needs to be able to throw a disc. Simple as that,” Garland said. “I love that everyone can play it, including men, women, children, and adults. It is a sport that you can enjoy meeting people and being competitive all while getting the exercise of walking and throwing and getting the opportunity to just enjoy being outside.”
Aside from being able to throw a disc, Garland said a short list of skills is required for disc golf. He said players must be able to walk through rough terrain at times, and strength and timing are a plus.
Garland played the sport on and off since high school until last year when he became more competitive. after playing in his first tournament in Bloomington.
Garland said others should get into the sport for a variety of reasons, including the low cost to play. He said a majority of disc golf courses are free to play at, and a disc costs anywhere from $10 to $30. The only local store Garland said carries discs is Country Peddlers in Effingham.
Garland said there’s a social aspect to playing disc golf, and he has formed many friendships through it. Many disc golfers in the area are a members of the Effingham Disc Golf Evangelists club, or EDGE.
EDGE hosts disc golf leagues at the Community Park course in collaboration with the Effingham Park District.
There is also a glow league in which Garland said lights are placed on the baskets, and the sport is played in the dark with lights on the discs.
With a handful of opportunities popping of for disc golfers in the Effingham area, Garland said he would like to see the sport continue to grow.
“The more people that get out and play, the better,” Garland said.
To register for the Battle at the Crossroads, visit https://www.discgolfscene.com/tournaments/ and scroll down to find the tournament. Entry fee for amateur golfers is $30 and $40 for pro players.