‘It feels good to represent Natchez,’ disc golfers win Jackson tournament

Published 3:30 pm Monday, February 6, 2023

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FLOWOOD — Natchezians Marchus Archer, Westin Sparrow and Ryan Porter celebrated the Groundhog Grappler disc golf tournament win at Mugshots on Saturday. It was Archer and Sparrow’s first tournament win and Porter’s first win in a while. 

Disc golf tournaments have amateur and pro divisions set up for certain skill levels. Porter competes in the MA40, an age protected division for mixed amateurs 40 and up, Archer competes in the MA3 and Sparrow competes in MA4. 

They each won their division Saturday in a tournament held at the Rez at Pelahatchie Shore Park in Brandon. Sparrow said there were about 90 people playing in the tournament and there was great sponsorship support. 

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“Sponsors are always needed to be successful. It was a great time and the course was in good shape,” Sparrow said. “The local club in Jackson did a great job. It always feels great to win but it was more special to me to do it with my friends from Natchez. We could represent Natchez well.” 

Jackson’s disc golf club is called Jackson Union of Disc Golf Enthusiasts (JUDGES) and is the club Natchez Disc Golf club modeled itself after. Porter said a lot of their club structure and how  they set up their tournament was inspired by the JUDGES club. 

The Rez’s disc golf course was also designed by Doug Williams who designed the disc golf course at Duncan Park. Porter said until the course came to Natchez he didn’t have anywhere else to play. 

His introduction to Disc Golf came in 2000 when he was a student at the University of Southern Miss. USM had a six hole course, he then played at Paul B. Johnson State Park in Hattiesburg before moving to Jackson and Colorado where he continued to play. 

He said the course opening in Natchez was more than exciting. They are ready to host the tournament but Porter will be unable to play as he is the tournament director. He hopes they can bring a similar experience as the Jackson tournament. 

“It feels good to represent Natchez and win up there,” Porter said. “All three of us could go up there and legitimize what we are doing here. We want to bring the same chances back home for outdoor recreation.” 

Archer said he had played in a few tournaments before his first win in Jackson. Historically, he had not played well in those tournaments for whatever reason. Saturday’s tournament had a morning round and an afternoon round. He shot five under to start but felt like he could have played better. 

“I called my wife and she was like ‘aren’t you happy,’ I went back out and shot nine under in the second round. It was a great day. It is always fun when you are birding a lot of holes,” Archer said. “At the end, I missed a birdie putt which would have won it. We had a shotgun start. The guy I was going back and forth with for the lead was finishing next to me. I walked over to watch him and he had an eight foot putt. He missed it, he should have but he did so we went to a playoff. It was a short par 3. My drive landed under the basket. He was 10 feet away. I tapped mine in and he missed his putt. It was cool.”

Archer said there was not much pressure in the playoff hole. Disc golf is a game he plays be

cause it is relaxing and for fun although hearing the disc hit the metal chains is addicting. 

Over the years, he has played disc golf here and there but did not become a dedicated player until the new course opened at Duncan Park. Disc golf is inexpensive and aside from $10 to $20 for a frisbee, the cost to play at Duncan Park is nothing. 

He said the fact disc golf is so inexpensive makes it more relaxing to him. 

“I don’t have to feel like I wasted money if I had a bad round. You also get to walk around with your friends, it is more like bowling,” Archer said. “It feels like the atmosphere is relaxed and you can talk. It is a fun way to get outside. Normally, I would not be outside in 32 degree weather. I hate winter but I will play disc golf in it.”

Sparrow enjoyed the friendship aspect of disc golf as well. He started playing disc golf in high school but took a break until he moved to Natchez where he has played with the disc golf club for the past eight months. 

Natchez will soon host its first disc golf tournament. Bluff City Open will be held on April 22. Archer said they are trying to take care of all of the planning right now so it will be less stressful the closer the tournament gets. 

Porter, Archer, Sparrow and Richard Burke have worked hard to set up the tournament and get the course set up for the tournament. Sparrow said the community has been good with sponsorship support. Their success at the Jackson tournament adds to the occasion. 

“We were able to take a picture together after we got our trophy. I think it showed how much disc golf has grown in Natchez,” Sparrow said. “We would not have been playing if it wasn’t for the course. It puts it into perspective. It was great to get a win with my friends. It has been fantastic but we have more to do. It is fantastic to be a part of this community. We never had an 18 hole course before now and I’m part of a group running the first disc golf tournament in Natchez, it is really special.”