COLUMBIA — For those involved, the 26th annual Mid-America Open disc golf tournament is about more than competition.
“Number one, I like the physical activity. I’m a guy. If I can’t hit something with a stick, I want to throw something,” said Mark Ehlert, a co-director of the tournament. “It’s just fun stuff for most of us. It’s a great game for good people, and I’ve met a lot of neat people.”
The Columbia Disc Golf Club and Columbia Parks and Recreation are sponsoring the tournament, set for Saturday and Sunday at Columbia disc golf courses at Albert Oakland Park and Indian Hills. Other community sponsors have donated money and merchandise.
Professional and amateur players from throughout the Midwest will play four rounds of 18 holes. Disc golf is scored exactly like regular golf, but instead of hitting a ball with a golf club, a flying disc is thrown toward a target. The player who makes all of their targets with the fewest throws wins.
Ehlert said the best time for people to see the best players will be on Sunday when the top pros and amateurs play their final nine holes, which will include reworked starting tees.
One of the most attractive things about playing disc golf is that there isn’t a price to play.
“It’s free. That’s the main factor,” said Keith Amerson, the Columbia Disc Golf Club president and co-director of the tournament.
Unlike ball golf, you don’t need to pay to play on disc golf courses.
Amerson has been playing disc golf for 13 years and says it allows him to reduce stress and unwind.
“My favorite thing is that it’s a relaxing sport,” Amerson said. “After work, I can go out and throw Frisbees and release some stress. You get to release stress and breath fresh air.”
This weekend, Amerson will be playing in the pro division. Although he has played at the to pskill level for the past three years, he said he still gets nervous.
“I’ve been playing for a while, and this is my home course, so I probably have an advantage,” Amerson says. “I’m kind of excited and have butterflies. A little bit of both.”
Despite the butterflies, Amerson knows that disc golf will offer him more than just a competition. He has built friendships with people from all over the country and said he looks forward to expanding his connections with disc golf players.
“It’s a fun game,” Amerson said. “You meet a lot of good people and can build some really good friendships.”