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Fri September 4, 2009
Murray Disc Golfers Go Pro
By Chris Taylor
Murray, KY – Disc Golf courses are found in all fifty states and a number of countries abroad. It's a physically accessible sport for all age and athletic ranges, attracting a diverse group of players. The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws. Think golf, with a heavy Frisbee. Chris Taylor meets up with a Murray State student who's taken his favorite hobby to a higher level.
That's the greatest sound in the world, according to Andy Mize. He's throwing discs at Murray Central Park's practice putting range. Andy isn't your average disc golf player: he's gone pro.
Mize - Tournament play is by far the best way to get better. I mean, it's all in good fun but there's a competition aspect to it. I've been to 20-30 tournaments and [it's] a different mindset of playing: every single shot counts and you're not just out just kind of throwing around. There's rules to it and everything, but I'd say it's more laid back than any other sport.
Mize plays in the Professional Disc Golf Association's highest level of competition, the professional open division. There are a number of ranked divisions in the P-D-G-A, organized by age and skill-level; the lowest being novice-amateur. Mize didn't just jump right into professional play, though. He started out in the intermediate-amateur division three years ago.
Mize - The first couple of tournaments we went to, we'd been playing probably three or four months. Me and one my really good friends Darek Casper took first and second at the Blue Grass Series in 2007. So we decided to move up to advanced.
After less than a year in the advanced division, both Andy and his tournament partner Darek moved onto pro, where the prizes aren't limited to discs, bags, and T-shirts, but instead offer cash winnings, but tougher competition.
Casper - We've been lucky enough and fortunate enough to move up and feel like we're good enough to play with the pros, or at least some of them. And had a lot of fun trying.
The duo has traveled to compete throughout the region and even further to eastern Kentucky, up to St. Louis and down to Alabama and Mississippi. They say if you're not looking to put your disc skills to the test, that's okay too. Mize says disc golf is probably one of the most diverse sports out there.
Mize - There's a lot of different people that play disc golf. I've seen, around Murray, there's a lot of college kids that play, there's a lot of people who are retired. It's a real laid-back sport so generally you get those types of people, but I've seen anybody and everybody.
The course in Murray was built about three years ago. Murray-Calloway County Parks Director Matt Martin describes its level of use as heavy.
Martin - Hot, cold, rainy it doesn't matter; they're always out there. It doesn't even have to be maintained. It's basically a two-mile walk through the woods and you can clearly see the paths. It's built alongside the walking trails or incorporated into the walking trails and usually you would have to come through there every couple months and trim it up, but because of the amount of traffic through there, they're keeping the trails pretty much mashed down for us.
Murray's not the only course in the area. Darek Casper sums up some of the closest ones available.
Casper - Paducah's probably the toughest course. You can go there if you feel like you haven't been challenged enough. We have a great variety here just with Murray and Mike Miller in Benton, Draffenville, and the Paducah course. Mike Miller is a more beginner setting, then Murray will push you a little bit further and Paducah takes it a little bit further than that.
Andy and Derek both agree that in this region, Murray has the best course, but others nearby are good, too. Murray is hosting a tournament Saturday, September 12 during the city's Ice Cream Festival. To compete, just show up by the historic courthouse at 9:00 am. For WKMS News, I'm Chris Taylor.
Murray has a disc golf club you can join, to find out more contact or go by the Murray-Calloway County Parks office.