Hiking with a purpose

On a perfectly cool morning at Milo McIver State Park, the Portland State Disc Golf Club gathered together for some fun and a chance to help out their fellow students on Saturday.

On a perfectly cool morning at Milo McIver State Park, the Portland State Disc Golf Club gathered together for some fun and a chance to help out their fellow students on Saturday.

In coalition with the International Community Development students, club members participated and helped sponsor the Disc Golf for Development tournament to raise money for the ICD students and their trip to Uganda, Africa, where they are traveling to learn how to be better community developers and better world citizens through sustainability.

Headed by senior information systems major Tony Skrivanek, the Disc Golf Club has come back to life at PSU after a brief hiatus. With the help of friends they proposed to start the club up again and brought it back to good standing with the Rec Clubs Committee over winter term.

Skrivanek describes disc golf as “hiking with a purpose” and says it can be felt in the inclines, woods and valleys that are typical of the nine or 18-hole courses. The club currently has 22 members and Skrivanek says they are always looking for anyone interested in playing. They meet once a week to practice for 2–4 hours. In addition to Disc Golf for Development, the group has primarily been practicing, with the hope of competing at collegiate levels in 2011.

At the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship earlier this month, the University of Oregon’s club came in second and freshman Chris Becker took home the title of National Disc Golf Champion. U of O was the only Oregon school competing, but Skrivanek hopes to change that.

“We’d like to get a northwest collegiate championship going,” he said. “If we could partner up with U of O and get more schools interested.”

The sport follows the general rules of golf, but features a hand-thrown disc instead of a golf ball. There are three, four and five-par holes, with the holes sitting above ground with metal chains to catch the discs. The number of times the disc is thrown constitutes the number of strokes for that hole, with the player with the least amount of throws deemed winner. Penalty strokes can be given for discs that land out of bounds or get stuck in a tree.

The price for equipment in disc golf is considerably less than real golf, and the atmosphere is far less proper. Supplies can be found at Next Adventure or Disc Golf Depot, both of which are located in southeast Portland.

Disc golf is a game that friends can get together to do that doesn’t require a great skill level, but if someone is interested in competing, it can also be a gateway to professional competition. The sport doesn’t involve a lot of physical play, other than precise aim, but can fill the gap for those limited by their capabilities.

“I used to play baseball, but I blew my knee out about two years ago,” disc golfer Jason Back said. “I heard about disc golf through some friends and caught the buzz. It was the only sport I could do that didn’t require running and stopping. It’s highly addictive.”

The Portland area features over 20 disc-golf courses that are open year-round, and several others are in development. The area also hosts a number of tournaments, including the Beaver State Fling coming up over Memorial Day weekend.

One of the biggest competitions on the west coast, the Beaver State Fling will feature professionals from around the world, all competing for top prizes. Due to increased participation in recent years, the amateur event is separate from the professional competition this year.

Though this year is in the preparation and organization stages for the PSU Disc Golf Club, Skrivanek and the rest of the members are setting up next year to be a great one for their club. Skrivanek says that David Feldberg, the 2008 world champion and person responsible for bringing disc golf to U of O, will coach the PSU club next year. Feldberg also sits on the board of directors for the Professional Disc Golf Association.

With summer approaching and the club’s next tournament not scheduled until the fall, Skrivanek feels the time is ripe for anyone interested in having fun and trying something new to consider giving the PSU Disc Golf Club a try.

PSU Disc Golf Club:

For information about the fundraising progress of the ICD students or to learn how to be a part of the program:

Beaver State Fling’s website:

Next Adventure’s website:

Disc Golf Depot’s website: