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home : columns : joel alvstad August 16, 2017

7/16/2008 5:47:00 PM
An eye-opening experience

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

I'm the kind of person who typically enjoys a new sports experience now and again. And I definitely got one over the past weekend.

As I had planned for a few weeks, I made the trek back to my home stomping grounds of Barrett for the annual Disc Stock disc golf tournament and music festival, held at Sumac Hills Disc Golf Course on my uncle Tim Ray's farm.

Unlike many of my relatives, I am fairly new to the sport of disc golf. On the surface, it seems easy enough. You throw a golf disc into or at a target a couple hundred feet away and keep track of your throws.

There are some problems, though. I cannot throw a disc very far with a "normal" backhanded throw. And I cannot throw it accurately enough with an unconventional overhand throw.

I could, of course, try a "hammer" throw, which is overhand, like you'd throw a baseball. I did actually try it a few times, with little success.

But I came into Disc Stock with modest expectations. I knew chances were good I was going to end up dropping the 10 buck entry fee anyway. Therefore, my goals were pretty tame: Have fun, and don't finish last.

Disc Stock uses a unique format. It is a two-person best-throw tournament, similar to what you'd see in regular golf. But at Disc Stock, your partner is drawn at random. Everyone puts their name on a little slip of paper and dumb luck determines your partner.

On the one hand, I was fortunate to be placed with people who I knew each of the two 18-hole rounds. I threw with my brother-in-law Mike for the first round and with my aunt Kathy in the second.

But that meant I would have no chance of placing very high. Mike is a decent thrower, but not at the caliber of some of the players in the tourney. Kathy, despite being married to the course's designer (my uncle Tim) is not an avid thrower and was one of the few throwers there of a similar skill level as I have.

Unfortunately for Kathy, she got placed with the other two bottom feeders for her two rounds: me and the youngest player in the field - a little guy from Alexandria who is going to be a very, very good disc golfer in a couple of years.

For me, the highlights were few. I had a couple of decent throws and hit a couple of mid-range putts despite the gale-force winds on Saturday.

I also witnessed the only hole-in-one of the day, thrown by my playing partner, Mike, during the first round (so it counted on my scorecard as well).

Easily the best part was my five-year-old son, Parker, was along for the walk the entire day, survived 36 holes of disc golf and threw almost every shot I did, except for the hole over the stock pond.

During my second round, I was in the same group as the eventual tournament winner. He and his partner could both backhand-throw the frisbee however far it needed to go. They were throwing right at the targets all day long and birdied nine of the first 10 holes. That's not easy to do. Despite lengths up to over 300 feet, all the holes at Sumac Hills are considered par-threes. My uncle apparently figured those of us of Norwegian heritage either couldn't count higher or maybe didn't need to count higher.

I was amazed at the skill level of the top throwers in the field. The winner finished 19-under-par, compared to my 10-over-par for the tournament.

Heron Lake Road Race

Heron Lake is celebrating its quasquicentennial (125 years). As part of the celebration, it is holding the first annual Paul Fest Memorial Road Race/Walk on July 26.

The races will start and end at the SSC Elementary School, with race day registration starting at 7 a.m.

The five-mile race will start at 8 a.m., with the two-mile race/walk at 8:50 a.m. and the Kids 1K cross country race at 9:30 a.m.

To preregister, contact Les Knutson at (507) 793-2723 or at lknutson@centurytel.net.

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