The Collegian
Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Two seniors recruiting students to play frisbee golf

Logan Turner, '09
Logan Turner, '09

Collegian Reporter

Trade in your golf clubs and balls for a flying disc, place a pole with a metal basket in each hole on the course and voila!, you get Frisbee golf, or "frolf," a sport played by millions of people around the world, according to the Freestyle Frisbee Association's Web site.

Just ask University of Richmond seniors Jeff Russell and Logan Turner, who have been flinging Frisbees together twice a week since their freshman year.

The goal of Frisbee golf, known as disc golf by professionals, is to hit the parabolic-shaped chains on the top half of a 3-foot pole with the disc so it drops into the basket. Like golf, Frisbee golfers play individually and the lowest score wins.

Russell's fervor for Frisbee golf stemmed from his California roots. The first course ever built is in his hometown, Pasadena, Calif. Ed Headrick, the father of disc golf, constructed the course in 1975.

"I thought it was the lamest thing when I first played, said Russell, who was introduced to Frisbee golf by his friends. "But it's kind of addicting because it's a sport you've never seen before."

Since 1975, more than 2,500 courses have emerged around the world, 1,000 of which were constructed in the last three years, Russell said. Courses can be tucked into wooded areas, in city parks, on professional courses with manicured greens or can consist of randomly placed baskets with no fairways, Russell said. Virginia is home to 44 courses, four of which are in Richmond, he said. Russell and Turner frequent the Richmond courses and travel to about three tournaments each semester. They recently played in Augusta, Ga., where Turner finished in sixth place and Russell came in second out of 30 players.

"We do it for fun," said Turner, who started a Facebook group with Russell to recruit Frisbee golfers at the University of Richmond.

More and more people on campus and around the country are delving into the sport, Russell said.

In fact, a new course on Richmond's campus is in the works, according to Chris Hysell, a volunteer at River City Disc Golf Club in Richmond who runs the weekly Richmond disc golf league. Hysell said he and other volunteers at the club had already done walkthroughs and put up stakes for the course, which would be in the woods near the Jepson Alumni Center and W Lot.

When he's not working at his day job as a steel fabricator in Ashland, Va., Hysell is a professional disc golfer and one of 16,000 members of the Professional Disc Golf Association, according to the PDGA Web site. Professionals can walk away with $400 to $500 in a single tournament, Hysell said. The best can pocket $30,000 to $40,000 a year before sponsorships, according to Turner and Russell.

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"I really enjoy the sport because you're outdoors," Hysell said, "and, if you're serious about it, you can go to any town and play disc golf." While Hysell estimated there were about 1,000 players in Richmond, he said Raleigh, N.C., was a hotbed for disc golf.

"It's fun, addicting and very inexpensive, and that's a good reason everyone should try it," he said.

While regular golfers have to buy clubs and equipment and pay greens fees, disc golfers can play a round with the sole purchase of a $10 disc, senior Jeff Strojny said. Many courses are also in city parks, which offer free access.

The discs come in varying plastic types and molds, which affect grip, speed, accuracy and durability, similar to different types of golf clubs. A driver has sharp edges so it cuts through the air fast, whereas a putter moves slower and is more accurate with shorter distances, Russell said.

"It's easy, quick and cheap -- not like regular golf," said Strojny, who learned the sport from his older brother, a professional disc golfer. "I like the feel of throwing the disc and watching it go and saying, 'I did that.'"

While Frisbee golfers have been stereotyped as college-aged potheads or blue-collar workers, the sport has become more mainstream and has cleaned up its image, Turner said. Today, Frisbee golf has a more diverse following and transcends age, he said.

"I got my dad into it, and he's 65 years old," Turner said.

Hysell agreed.

"It is fun for the entire family," he said. "Here I am, 45 years old, and I can compete with people half my age."

Contact Reporter Jennifer Hoffman at jennifer.hoffman@richmond.edu

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