When Ayden Roupe, a freshman at Oakland University, told me he was a professional disc golf player, I literally burst out laughing. It wasn’t until he took a pro card out of his wallet that my laughter stopped.
“My pro card is a document that proves my status as a disc golfer,” Roupe said. “It shows that I am recognized as a registered player with the Professional Disc Golf Association.”
The sport is simple, requiring only a disc and access to a course. The rules of disc golf are similar to traditional golf, each throw of the disc counts as a “stroke”.
The objective of each hole is to get the disc into the disc golf basket in as few shots as possible. At the end of the round, the player with the lowest cumulative score wins.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced many sports to be suspended, disc golf was one of the few activities to have escaped the closures. Soon, “foliers” flocked to once-neglected disc golf courses to regain a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos.
“Disc golf is what got me through the pandemic,” Roupe said. “It was an individual activity that allowed me to leave the house safely; once i started to get good, i decided to start competing.
Roupe’s introduction to disc golf parallels that of many other athletes. In fact, the Professional Disc Golf Association (the sport’s official governing body) saw a dramatic 84% increase in new players throughout 2020.
In the past, disc golf was considered a casual pastime enjoyed by unruly teenagers. Today it is respected as a legitimate sport for all ages with competitive events popping up around the world.
“Last year I attended the state disc golf tournament,” Roupe said. “I managed to place 4th in the state for the 18 and under division.”
While competitions attract players with a competitive spirit, the appeal of disc golf is that it can also be enjoyed in a relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Instead of trying to beat another player’s score, you can instead challenge yourself against the course.
“I would say that I play disc golf in a relaxed setting most of the time,” said OU freshman Eien Vanriper. “A lot of times my friends and I don’t even keep track of our scores – we just test out new throwing skills and techniques.”
Clearly, disc golf is a growing sport that has provided a unique form of comfort to players of all ages and abilities amid the pandemic. Whether enjoyed in a competitive or casual environment, the sport is sure to captivate anyone lucky enough to get their hands on a record.
Disc golf is starting to intrigue you? Luckily, you can start right on campus at Oakland University. Grizzly Oaks Disc Golf Course.
Graying oakslocated in the woods between the Upper Sports Fields and the Meadow Brook Amphitheater, opened in 2009. Although called “challenging” by some, Grizzly Oaks promises a fun round of disc golf for people of all skill levels.