State Park to host Frisbee golf tournament

Published 12:02 am Friday, February 12, 2010

NATCHEZ — For Natchez native Ryan Porter, doubling the fun is the objective.

The co-chairman of the Natchez Disc Golf Club is helping to put on a tournament at Natchez State Park in order to raise money to buy nine more baskets that the park can use for its disc golf course.

“The park only has nine baskets, and most courses have 18,” Porter said. “We want to get nine more. We have a company willing to give us nine used ones for $1,200, so we’re using this tournament to raise those funds.”

And so far, Porter has seen success in getting sponsors for the event, which takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“I’ve raised almost $950 in one week’s time,” he said.

Disc golf is played outdoors, usually in wide, spacious areas that have designated courses, although they are not required. In designated courses, specifically designed disc golf baskets serve as “holes,” and the objective is the same as ordinary golf: get the disc in the basket in the lead amount of throws or strokes.

“It was invented a couple of decades ago by college kids that were just throwing regular Frisbees around on campus,” Porter said.

“The sport was standardized when the disc basket was created. After that, more technologically advanced discs started coming out.”

Despite the many potential playing areas surrounding Natchez, the course at Natchez State Park is the only official course that’s local. Porter said his organization’s focal point is getting the word out about disc golf in order to expand interest in it around the Miss-Lou.

“I want to get the EDGE program here,” Porter said. “EDGE stands for Educational Disc Golf Experience. It’s a curriculum manual used for kindergarten through sixth grade that allows you to use disc golf to aid in teaching.”

Porter said the EDGE manual comes with 30 discs and three portable baskets, and offers students many different opportunities to learn.

“You can use it as a physical activity, help measure the distance between the starting point and the basket, things like that,” he said. “It’s just a great program. I’d like to get it into the local schools, like ACCS, Trinity, Cathedral and Natchez High. Kids need to actually feel the discs to become interested.”

Porter also said he hopes to eventually make disc golf an official high school sport, as well as a Special Olympics sport.

“After I graduated from USM, I did an internship with the Parks and Recreation Department in Boulder, Colo.,” Porter said.

“When I moved back last April, I was reading the paper, and I saw there was a local golf tournament to help benefit the Special Olympics. I played in it and told the parents there that I was interested in working with their kids, and started working with them.”

Disc golf is something that would be an ideal sport to teach Special Olympic athletes, Porter said.

“There’s no specific skill set required, you just have to learn to throw a disc correctly,” Porter said. “It’s a sport that’s good for anybody. There’s absolutely no age limit, and you can either call a couple of buddies or just play by yourself.”