Campus hosts World Disc Golf Championships

August 1, 2011

When the 2011 Pro Disc Golf World Championships tee off on Aug. 9, it will mark the tournament’s return to California after a 30-year absence. This time, the Oaks Course at CSU Monterey Bay is one of four Monterey Bay courses that will host tournament rounds.

Since championship-level play requires 27-hole courses, nine holes of the Cypress Course will be used in addition to the Oaks Course.

According to Greg Pool, adviser to the campus disc golf club, spectators will get a good view of the action on the nine Cypress Course holes by parking at the Alumni and Visitors Center and crossing Gen. Jim Moore Boulevard.

More than 430 disc golfers, including four former world champions, will be in the field for the five-day event. They’ll be competing for more than $100,000 in prize money.

The field includes 55 international players from 14 countries including Sweden, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand.

Other courses to be used include Ryan Ranch, located off Highway 68 in Monterey; Pinto Lake in Watsonville; and DeLaveaga in Santa Cruz. The tournament’s semifinals and finals will be held on Aug. 13 at Pinto Lake.

In preparation for the event, the university’s Disc Golf Club worked with Campus Planning to build 27 circular concrete tee pads on the Oaks course and part of the Cypress course. The new tee pads elevate the university’s two courses to a championship level.

Disc golf has a long history at CSUMB. In 1998, students Scott Keasey and Steve Bonar got tired to driving to Santa Cruz to play.

They started the CSUMB Disc Golf Club to generate interest in the construction of a disc golf course on campus. "We got eight names on a list and the school gave us $100 to start the club," Keasey said a few years later. "We then tried to think of ways to finance the course."

While doing research, the two realized that one of the major manufacturers of disc golf equipment, the Disc Golf Association, was located right up the road in Watsonville. The two students also found that the driving force behind the Disc Golf Association was "Steady Ed" Headrick, the man who designed the modern Frisbee for Wham-O, invented the Pole Hole (the basket used in courses around the country), and an accomplished course designer with over 200 courses to his credit.

Headrick agreed to loan the students the materials to create a course on one condition: that they sell his discs exclusively at the course, slowly paying him off with the revenue generated from the disc sales. Headrick also helped Keasey and Bonar design and build the Cypress course. Headrick died in 2002.

The Oaks Course, in the live oak and shrubs on the southern edge of campus, began in November 2003 and permanent baskets were in place starting in 2005.

Since 2002, students have been able to take a one-unit class in disc golf – Kinesiology 141. First taught by Stancil Johnson, the course is now handled by Merle Witvoet.

The syllabus describes the class this way: “Low-impact and easy to learn, provides students with the fundamental skills, beginning through advanced, to enjoy disc golf. Students, athletic or not, all genders and all ages, can learn to play, and develop a life sport.” That description entices about 50 students to enroll each semester.