Tyler Matney, a two-time participant in the annual Rim Country Open Disc Golf Tournaments knows the reasons the sport is growing in popularity in Payson and around the state.
“It’s outdoors, it’s affordable and it’s laid back, not overly competitive,” the Mesa resident said. “And Payson is a good place to play because it is the town nearest to Phoenix where it is cool in the summer months.”
Aesthetics apparently also plays a role in the popularity sport.
“It’s fun to play in the forests and Payson has those,” Matney said. “There are not too many forests down here (in the Valley).”
Matney was one of 60-plus to play in the Rim Country Open held July 23-24 at Rumsey Park.
During the course of the two days, entrants competed over 18 holes trying to duplicate what Tiger Woods has done so well in the more well known game of golf — card the lowest score possible.
In disc golf that means the fewest number of throws of the disc.
The holes or targets are actually catching baskets made of chain link mesh that were placed at various strategic locations around Rumsey. Some are permanent holes, others were set up temporarily for the open.
The course also included tee pads where disc golfers began play on each hole.
Unlike regular golf, most disc golf courses are located in public parks and are free to play, although some courses require a small fee.
When disc golf was first introduced to Payson in 2007, Green Valley Park was considered a course location, but then organizers passed on it choosing instead Rumsey Park as a playing site. Organizers favored Rumsey over GVP because it had less foot traffic to interfere with play.
The discs are an essential part of the sport and include a variety that are typically eight to nine inches in diameters.
The discs are designed to meet most every course challenge and include putters, drivers and mid-range which are lauded by those in the sport as great all-around discs and fine choices for first-time players.
Those watching the Rim Country Open soon realized there are a variety of throwing styles used in the sport that has been called Frisbee golf and frolf.
The two basic techniques are backhand and forehand, or sidearm, but there is also the Tomahawk or overhand baseball throw with the fingers on the inside of the disc.
The Thumber, is a throw similar to the Tomahawk but with the thumb on the inside of the disc.
Also, some players use what is called a “Run up” during their drives. Those at the RCO said they were using the motion technique to build forward momentum and increase distances.
Although Payson can’t yet be called a hotbed of the sport, local players actually fared well in the open.
In the open pro division, David Marinelli took first by outdueling Valley players Rory Self and David Gaulden, who were second and third.
In the intermediate women’s division, Payson resident Michelle Marinelli took top honors.
Alex Suarez was first and Devin Gingry third in the junior division.
Among those in the recreation division, Dylan Adreon took home the gold and Chris Byrne was third.