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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 18, 2024


UW-Madison junior Nate Hurst steps up to the tee on the eighth hole of the course. Staring in his face is undergrowth and a large tree. On the other side is an open field and further along the pin. The only way to get there is to bank it around the fauna and hope not to catch the branches. 


He makes his swing and the object goes out of sight around the tree, seemingly landing in the field beyond it. 


No, this isn't golf. It's Disc golf or Frisbee golf or Frolf, or whatever you want to call it. Though no one can decide on a name, one thing everyone can agree on is that it's fun. 


\You can go out with your friends, and just enjoy a round and have a good time without much effort Anyone can play without much practice,"" UW-Madison senior Chad Krueger said. 


As with golf, the game consists of a tee shot or throw from either an amateur or professional tee. The player then drives from where his disc lands and follows with a putt or approach shot into a metal basket. Whereas in golf you have different clubs, in disc golf you have specialized discs made to hook, slice, drive longer or be more reliable for putts. Though some players play with as many discs as a golfer would clubs, most casual disc golfers usually go out with no more than three. 


Ever since 1975, when the first official disc golf course with baskets was created in Pasadena, Calif., the sport has grown into a national phenomenon. Over 1,000 disc golf courses exist in the nation, with more than 3 million players and 20,000 professional members, according to the Disc Golf Association's Web site. The majority of courses are free of charge, though there is a growing trend to place tee fees for new parks. 


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The Madison area is home to three great courses at Elver, Hiestand and Token Creek Parks. Both Elver and Hiestand, located on the west and east side of Madison, respectively, are both free to play; while the Token Creek Course, located near the Dane County Regional Airport, charges a $4 daily fee. 


Many UW-Madison students enjoy the game and have played it since high school. 


""I like how laid back and relaxing it is, yet you can challenge yourself to get better,"" Hurst said. ""It's individual or group sport-you can go by yourself or have a great time with friends.""  


Though Token Creek is arguably the best course in the region, few students are willing to make the trek out to a 'pay-to-play' course. 


Hiestand is the more open of the two free courses, though there is little agreement between players as to which course is easier or even preferred. 


""Elver is neat, but its almost too extreme. The big hill is big, the woods are very thick and it's very bipolar, I feel. Hiestand has a little more of a mix, a little more open,"" said UW-Madison senior Anders Brown, who has been playing for over a decade. 


Brown's favorite hole, however, is the 18th at Elver, down a giant hill that the UW men's basketball team runs up for training. 


""I love the last hole that shoots out over the hill-it looks like it goes so far, and then it cuts and you're like 'Oh it's only 50 feet away from me,'"" Brown said. 


An even greater dispute than favorite courses are the discs people prefer. Made by many different companies, the top two of which are Innova and Discraft, the discs are primarily rated by how stable they are, their speed and glide factor. 


An understable tag means the disc will pull to the left, while an overstable disc will bank to the right. Depending on the speed of the disc these turns will either occur as soon as it has left the hand or at the tail end of the flight.  


Equipment for the sport can be purchased at many locations around campus including The Den, 24 University Square, Fontana Sports Specialties, 251 State St., and Sports World, 510 State St. Sports World has the largest selection of discs and accessories, such as carrying cases, of the three stores. 


Though both the skill required to enjoy the game and the cost of the game are not prohibitive (with most disc's ranging in price from $8-$16), many UW-Madison students are unable to enjoy the sport due to a lack of transportation to the nearby courses. 


""I totally feel it restricts access by students. I can't believe they don't have some sort of course. Even a nine-holer by Picnic Point or anything,"" Brown said. ""You have to be pretty dedicated to get your ass out there."" 


It takes approximately 20 minutes to get out to either Elver or Hiestand by car and over half an hour by bus. 


Hurst played several times a week when he had easy access to a vehicle this past summer, but has not played once since school started; a common theme among UW-Madison students. Though he would like to see a course closer to the campus area, he is not complaining. 


""I don't think Madison is lacking in courses because I think it's one of the best places to play disc golf I've ever been,"" he said. ""But of course more disc golf courses is always great."" 


Someone once said that ""necessity is the mother of invention."" UW-Madison students seem to have taken this idea to heart as many disc golfers can be seen playing urban disc golf all over campus. Using makeshift targets to designate holes, disc golfers roam the campus looking for the next good hole. This type of playing has its limitations though. 


""It seems urban disc golfing is fun at first, but it loses its intrigue real quick. Unless you set up your own urban disc golf course and stick to it, you can't work on your shots,"" Brown said. ""That's the main thing about going to a course. You got the basket, you know the tees, you know what you have to do at certain areas and you're always improving that. But if you're just randomly hitting trees or poles, or whatever your urban targets are, you're not going to get all the long term enjoyment out of it."" 


Back on the eighth, as the next golfer in Hurst's group is about to throw, a ""ching"" rings out in the air. Hurst looks back at the group in disbelief-no way did he get a hole in one. He races off to the basket.  


A triumphant scream is enough to confirm he just threw his first ace in more than five years of playing the sport.

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