Disc golf brings out competitors to Lions Wilderness Park

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The sport of disc golf, before seen perhaps a niche activity, has quickly grown into a sport of international recognition.

With active tournaments in more than 20 countries around the globe and nearly 10,000 courses designed for disc golf across North America, the sport has found a niche for those who want to get out and about.

The Professional Disc Golf Association, which consists of more than 213,000 members, shows the roots of disc golf dating back to the 1970s, complete with all the frustrations and joys of golf, but with a few differences.

Disc golf is often free to play in public parks, although pay-to-play courses have been trending upward in recent years. A casual round takes one to two hours and may be played alone, eliminating the difficulty of scheduling tee times.

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But perhaps the greatest attribute of the sport is the relatively low economic impact to play. A professional quality disc costs roughly $15, and it only takes one for basic play. 

"It's honestly a very awkward game, throwing something that looks like a frisbee into a basket," joked Cameron Otero, owner of Chasin Aces Disc Golf and Supply and promoter of disc golf events around the Four Corners. "There's a lot of technique you have to learn, just like with any sport. You sort of just have to jump in."

Jay Maas sends off his shot during a disc golf tournament at Lions Wilderness Park, Saturday, March 26, 2022

More than 50 players of various ages and skill levels turned out Saturday morning at Lions Wilderness Park to compete in an event presented by Prodigy Disc, makers of official gear for the sport.

The course at Lions Wilderness consists of rugged, but not dangerous terrain where discs can find rocks and trees. The players were broken up into groups of four and made their way around the course in just a few hours.

"No one wakes up and knows how to be a disc golfer, but it's just got so many benefits," Otero said. "

The sport grew immensely in popularity during the pandemic, with people looking for safe, outdoor activities that broke up the monotony of being stuck at home.

"The sport is still growing in record numbers right now," Otero said. "When the pandemic hit, people were looking for something to do while they were tied down. It had social distancing, it was outdoors, it was safe. Now it just continues to grow in popularity."

In the men's competition, Aztec's Devin Stalcup scored the lowest number of the day in the Par 2 event at Lions Wilderness, carding a 66 over a round of 30 holes, one shot better than Angelo Topaha, Craig Lozier and Phillip Johns.

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Among the women competitors, Michelle Saggboy from Moab, Utah had the score of the day, with a 72. In the junior rounds, Josiah Billy and Amethyst Whitmark each won their respective rounds.

The PDGA has events sanctioned events scheduled around the country this year leading to the national championship, which is coming up Oct. 13th in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Regional events like the Treebash Open, scheduled for Flagstaff on July 15, will likely be a stopping point for some area and local disc golfers.

"The sport is getting bigger here in New Mexico," Otero said. "There's some really elite players around this part of the country."

For more information about the local disc golf community, check out discgolfscene.com.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.