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Disc golf players enjoy fleeting break from cold weather

Sunday, January 26, 2014 | 5:27 p.m. CST
The Columbia Disc Golf Club held its 28th Annual Ice Bowl Charity Tournament at 10 a.m. Sunday on the Albert-Oakland Park disc golf course. The first Ice Bowl disc golf event was organized in Columbia in 1987. Ice Bowls are held across the United States and a few European countries where they are typically played in snow, ice and frigid weather. They are also held in warm weather climates for irony's sake, according to the organizer's website.

COLUMBIA — With temperatures rising into the 50s Sunday, Columbia residents were able to shed their heavy coats and go outdoors. But the forecast for the next few days recommends keeping those coats nearby.

The Columbia Disc Golf Club held its 28th Annual Ice Bowl Charity Tournament at 10 a.m. on the Albert-Oakland Park disc golf course.

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“We play in new fallen snow and blizzard conditions. We play when there’s ice on the ground. Good weather makes it more fun,” said Mark Ehlert, treasurer and senior officer of the Columbia Disc Golf Club, among scores of disc golfers registering for the tournament.

The club usually holds the tournament in worse conditions than Sunday's weather offered. Last year, cold rain drizzled over the Ice Bowl.

“It can be really uncomfortable,” club member Paul Morrison said. “Your feet get frozen. Everything’s wet; the discs are wet. We’re so incredibly lucky. This could have been really frozen.”

The Ice Bowl is unsanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association and benefits the Central Missouri Food Bank. The club’s fundraising goal is $1,000 for the event. Each player paid a $15 registration fee for the charity.

“It’s a great opportunity for the disc golf community to get together in the winter,” Morrison said.

Strong southwest winds caused the warm weather Sunday, but Monday, a strong cold front is predicted to bring low temperatures and strong sustained winds up to 45-50 mph, Julie Phillipson, a meteorologist at the St. Louis Forecast Office of the National Weather Service said.

The wind speed Sunday afternoon was between 9 and 14 mph with a high temperature of 56 degrees. That contrasted with last week's low of 1 degree, according to the National Weather Service. Monday’s predicted high will be 13 degrees, and wind chills will dip below zero.

For some of the disc golfers, 50 degree temperatures were cold enough to affect their game.

“Today is a little cold,” club member Emily Fry said. “For me, that stops focus. Your fingers numbing makes it hard to control your release. The wind will make it more competitive . . . You’ll find people out here every day.”

To some of the Ice Bowl participants, cold temperatures and wintery conditions are part of the fun, but Morrison is more than OK with an unseasonably warm day to play disc golf.

“I don’t like being uncomfortable when I play. I’m not a glutton for punishment like some of these guys . . . I’ve played in about 15 Ice Bowls. After, you want to go home and soak in a hot tub for an hour,” Morrison said.

The Columbia Disc Golf Club’s Ice Bowl was the first one established in the country, according to Fry. Disc golf clubs in cities around North America now host their own versions of the winter classic. The coldest Ice Bowl ever recorded, according to Lynne Warren’s pamphlet “A Brief History of the Ice Bowl,” was in Winnipeg, Canada at 15 degrees below zero.

“If you love something, you’re going to play, regardless,” said Chris Thompson, who has been playing for less that two years and has won several putting competitions. “I play in all weather . . . You’ve got to be hungry in what you do.”

The Ice Bowl slogan is “No wimps and no whiners.”

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.


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