Plastic disc or ball - an ace is an ace
By ANDREA VARGO
Skies were cloudy, and a crisp, fairly strong wind blew across the yard and down the driveway of Sandy Williams of Howard Lake.
She stands poised, then throws a plastic disc across the strip of gravel into a metal basket on the lawn.
The game she is playing is disc golf, and the basket is of her own design.
With her new company, WARP (speed of light), Williams designs and installs disc golf courses.
Officially, she started last fall, but in addition to getting the business up and running, she has also been thrown right into the installation process.
Glencoe just put in a nine-hole course in its park and will put in nine more holes next spring, she said.
"Aaron, 16, our son, got the first ace (hole-in-one) on the course at the grand opening," she said.
There was a large turnout, about 75 players, with lots of kids and grandparents, said William
Sandy and her husband Bob like to promote the sport.
"We have 18 holes here on our property. Friends come out from the cities to play," she said.
Disc golf is played like regularball golf, except you throw a disc into a basket instead of shooting a ball into a little cup, explained Williams.
There are fairways and tees, and every time you throw the disc, it counts as a stroke, she said.
The discs are different weights, from 150-200 grams, and there are putters and drivers, just like real golf.
The player uses the disc that meets the needs of the course and the game.
They are all packed into the golfer's bag, and this can be anything from a fancy bag to a grocery bag, said Williams.
"It is a good idea to get the rule book and know it," she said.
Their course has a few "natural" hazards that won't be found on the greens of a regular golf course.
A sheep pen for instance is not something a golfer usually needs to worry about.
On the Williams course, it will cost the disc golfer an extra penalty stroke, because Sandy is the one who has to retrieve it. They are her sheep.
Each of the metal baskets has a slightly different look, since they put the prototypes on their own property, so their friends could test them.
The final design (this week) has a conical top, is deeper, and has more chains on the outside. It is also cheaper to produce, she said.
"We host an invitational tournament the third Sunday in August every year for friends and new people we meet that want to come play the course," said Williams.
Disc golf has a good following, and there are local, state, and regional tournaments.
To advance to the amateur or professional world tournaments, a player needs to have enough points to qualify, Williams explained.
She and her son Aaron played in the Hopkins Raspberry Festival tournament.
Sandy and Bob are donating a practice basket to the Humphrey Elementary school, and it will be placed on the school grounds.
They are also donating some throwing discs, so the kids can practice, she said.
There are lots of games to play with the discs and baskets: 21, horse, or make up your own, she said.
Mini discs and mini baskets are available so a game can even be set up in the house in the winter, Williams said.
One of their friends even made up a board game and is considering marketing it, she said.
Williams said that she started about 13 years ago. "Bob grew up in the cities, and played disc golf all his life," she said.
Their granddaughter Hannah was seven months old when she got her first disc. It is about four inches across.
When she gets big enough to play, she will find disc golf courses from Florida to the Yukon.
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