The fourth annual Rim Country Open, to be held June 19 at Rumsey Park, is expected to draw 60-plus disc golf players from around the state.
While many associate disc golf as a sport played in large parks in big cities, it has actually become quite popular in the Rim Country as evidenced by the past success of the tournaments that draw to Payson players of all ages.
In January of 2008, disc golfers left little doubt they are a dedicated bunch when 56 entrants — many of whom hailed from the White Mountains, Flagstaff, the Valley and Payson — braved windy, rainy, cold conditions to compete in the second annual Rim Country Open.
Following the event, town Trails and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Mary McMullen praised the players as a dedicated and friendly group, anxious to share their love of the sport with others.
The success of the first two tournaments had officials including a disc golf course in the parks and recreation’s master plan.
Building that course, however, has not come to fruition, mostly due to budget constraints. But three permanent baskets have been set up near the south multipurpose field at Rumsey and 15 other portables will be brought in for the upcoming tournament.
Town officials tout the event as a way to learn a new and exciting sport in a festive atmosphere.
Among the locals who excel in disc golf, and apparently enjoy it as well, is Jerry Novak.
Since the first tournament, he and McMullen have spearheaded the move to make the sport a regular offering.
For the upcoming tournament, late registration and check-in will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Rumsey Park Ramada 3. Fees range from $25 for the novice player to $50 for the open division.
Members of the Arizona Disc Golf Club receive a $5 discount
Registration forms are available at: paysonparks.com.
McMullen is encouraging all players to register online to avoid hassles and back ups on the day of the tournament.
Choosing Rumsey over GVP
Novak and town officials tout Rumsey as a better location than Green Valley Park because there is less foot traffic at the midtown park, which means less interference with the players.
Unlike regular golf, most disc golf courses are located in public parks and are free to play, although some courses require a small fee.
Ideal play areas combine open and wooded wooded terrains, as well as a variety of flatlands and hills.
The strategy of the game is not much different than regular golf — card the lowest score possible.
“The object of the game is to play a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc,” Novak said.
Disc golf was formalized in the 1970s, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association’s Web site at www.pdga.com.
The sport has grown by leaps and bounds partly because it requires inexpensive discs, instead of costly clubs and balls.
The modern disc golf player targets his throw at a metal basket with chains hanging over it.
At the last Olympics, the sport was held as an exhibition.
“There is a petition being passed to make disc golf an official Olympic sport,” Novak said. “It is the fastest-growing sport in the country and four new courses have just gone up around the state.”
Some of the more popular of Arizona’s courses are located near Stoneman Lake in Flagstaff, Scottsdale’s Vista del Camino and at the El Conquistador in Tucson.
To pre-register for the Rim Country Open visit the Payson Parks, Recreation & Tourism offices at Green Valley Park or log on to www.paysonparks.com.