Columbia disc golf tournament attracts more female competitors

Sunday, July 10, 2011 | 9:59 p.m. CDT; updated 10:15 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 10, 2011

COLUMBIA — Alicia Mathis sighed as her rainbow-colored disc was consumed by one of the several clusters of trees on the Indian Hills disc golf course Sunday morning.

"How can a rainbow disc be so hard to find?" she said as she searched for her disc under the intensity of the 100-degree weather. "It has red in it."

Mathis, 23, is one of eight women who competed in the 27th Mid-America Open this weekend. She was introduced to the sport by her mother and her mother's boyfriend, George Smith, a local pro who has been playing since he was 8 years old.

Melissa White, 30, a competitor in the Intermediate Women division, was impressed by the number of female players at the tournament.

"This is the most women I've seen in the six tournaments I've been to this year," she said.

Keith Amerson, director of the tournament and president of the Columbia Disc Golf Club, said the intimidation of competing in a tournament prevents a lot of women from joining.

"A lot of the college girls I see playing out here would do a lot better than they think," he said.

In an effort to attract more female participants, women received half-price registration fees. .

There is also a women's league in Columbia to help spread interest in the sport, but White said she believes kids should also be targeted because mothers could potentially gain interest when the game is introduced to their children.

"Even just giving the kids a flier at school to take home will help get the word out," she said.

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