Disc Golf Club Built on Success

Tony Liebert

A boy named Ronald Brandon Cain and a group of his Bladworth Elementary School buddies played a game of throwing tin lids into 4 foot wide circles drawn into sandy patches on their school grounds. The group of native Canadians called the game Tin Lid Golf. This recess game would eventually grow into a much popular sport called disc golf. 

Disc golf is a sport in which players try to throw a flying disc into a basket, often played using rules similar to golf. It is often played on a course of nine or 18 holes. Players complete a hole by throwing a disc from a tee area toward a target, throwing again from the landing position of the disc until the target is reached. Usually, the number of throws a player uses to reach each target are tallied (often in relation to par), and players seek to complete each hole, and the course, in the lowest number of total throws.

Iowa State introduced its mens disc golf team in 2011. Ever since, they’ve had one of the more successful disc golf programs in the country. The Daily was able to catch up with the current president of the club, sophomore Daniel Slaughter. He spoke about his expectations for the current 2019-20 season, and the current state of the sport of disc golf.

Iowa State’s disc golf team this season is led by Matt Polson, who is currently ranked as a top-1,000 player in the in the PDGA rankings. The senior has recently won the Big Creek Beatdown in September, and the Roctober Doubles tournament in October. The last tournament Polson competed in, he finished in second place at the Iowa State Collegiate Qualifier on October 13th.

Polson’s individual success has carried over to the team’s success. This year’s team recently qualified for the 2020 National tournament, continuing the trend of Iowa State competing in the last nine college disc golf national championships. This year’s National tournament will be played in South Carolina. Iowa State will have to opportunity to bring one or even two teams. They will compete with 35 other colleges across the country from various divisions of competition.

A disc golf team is usually comprised of four players. The rules of team disc golf starts with two sets of teammates, one odd pair, one even pair. The odd set will tee off on every odd-numbered hole, while the even set tees off on every even-numbered holes. After the tee shots, the team chooses which of the two lies to play. From there, the set that did not tee throws their two shots.

The whole team decides which lie to play from and the set that teed off would throw. That alternating process continues until the hole is complete. On the next hole, the corresponding set of teammates according to the hole number, odd or even, would tee off no matter which set putted out on the previous hole. This format allows for each player to tee off the same amount of times and for teams to play as whole. Each hole has two teams playing together as an eight-some.

What makes someone want to play disc golf, at a competitive level?

Slaughter said the reasons are pretty simple.

“There were two things that drew me to disc golf,” Slaughter said. “First is seeing the disc fly through the air, and second is the room for constant improvement.

“There are so many things that discs can do in the air and I think it’s really cool how we can manipulate that ourselves. No matter how good you are at disc golf, there is always something you can improve on. There is no limit to how good you can be and that keeps bringing me back.”

The average person can sometimes make assumptions about unique sports like disc golf and say, “how hard could it really be?”

“People might often think that disc golf is not really a sport or very difficult, but a lot of work goes into becoming a consistent player in all aspects of your game,” Slaughter said. “It takes much more effort than people think.”