ECO coming to Ahoskie

Published 9:16 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

AHOSKIE – If you can bend your Frisbee around trees and over water hazards like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson bend their drivers, then this is for you.

The town of Ahoskie will host its first ever Disc Golf Tournament this Sunday at the Ahoskie Creek Park Disc Golf Course. Pros will be competing for prize money while amateurs will seek to gain points, all toward the season-ending grand prize that will be awarded in either October or November.

The Ahoskie event is also the second in a nine-stop tour on the Professional Disc Golf Association’s (PDGA) East Carolina Open series. The 2014 tour began in Richlands with the first event on Jan. 12 and the next one is in Rocky Mount on March 2.

Disc golf is a flying disc game, as well as a precision and accuracy sport, in which individual players throw a flying disc at a target. According to the PDGA, the object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc. The game is played in about 40 countries around the world.

“It was ‘Steady Eddie’ Headrick that designed the first course with a target of a basket made of chains,” said Tournament Director Jason Clark in a telephone interview. “Those are the kinds of targets you see out at AhoskieCreekPark.”

Clark says the tournament will draw players – pro and amateur – from all over North Carolina as well as other parts of the country.  The pros play in the Open division, while the amateurs play in both Advanced and Intermediate.

“It’s evolved into a world-wide sport with actual tour stops for guys who play for a living: traveling and playing disc golf,” Clark said.

“The game is played with pretty much the same rules as golf,” he added. “You begin in a tee-box and ‘tee up’ a drive, then play an up-shot before finally putting into the basket to hole-out with the least number of throws (shots) for the best score. All the courses are 18-hole courses and you’re throwing a projectile as opposed to hitting a little ball with a stick.”

Clark also says different discs are used for the different shots.  To aid those who are new to the game, the Ahoskie Recreation Department has a ‘starter pack’ of discs available which includes a driver-disc, mid-range disc, and a putter disc.  The three-disc set will be available and on sale Sunday for $20 and after the event at Town Hall or the City Gym.

“Your driver-disc is equivalent to a golfer’s three-wood, and then it goes on down to the mid-range discs which are like hybrids or fairway woods and finally your approach or putter discs,” he noted.

The event will consist of two 18-hole rounds (36 holes) with the first round being played from the ‘long’ tees. Then after completion of that round, and scorecards are turned in, there will be a one-hour break followed by another 18 holes played from the shorter tees.  The first round will begin with a shotgun start at 10 a.m.

Clark played the Ahoskie Creek course for the first time last weekend and pronounced it one of the best new courses he’s seen and played on.

“For an outsider coming in you want to know how the course plays with the locals,” Clark said. “The tournament director has to know where all the hazards and out-of-bounds markers are located so it doesn’t cause problems with play.  Coming down (Saturday) I played the course to make sure there’s nothing ‘wonky’ about the course that outsiders won’t know about.”

Clark said he will be warning players that Ahoskie Creek on Hole number-5 is – obviously – out of bounds.

For the pros, there is a $30 entrance fee, $4 of which comes out to go into the PDGA and the Tour. The rest of which goes into a pool and based on the number of participants will make up the prize money for the event.

“There’s prize money at the end of the year,” Clark says, “and that’s money that I’ve raised soliciting businesses and sponsors for whoever wins the points.  The winners in Advanced and Intermediate (amateur class) will win a metal basket from our sponsor that’s PDGA approved and is a great piece of equipment to have in your back yard for practicing your putting and things like that.”

Among the other favorable impressions about the Ahoskie course for Clark and the tournament pros was the course’s layout and length.

“I’m really looking forward to playing it again,” he said as you sense the excitement rising in his voice. “I was really surprised that Ahoskie had that much land – 7,000 feet, which is gigantic – and I don’t think they (the locals) realize exactly what they’ve got out there yet but it’s going to be fun and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Local Disc Golf Club

seeking Members

Anyone interested in becoming part of the Ahoskie Recreation Department’s new disc golf program are invited to join the Ahoskie Disc Golf Club.

“It’s an opportunity for them to get involved and become partners in planning future tournaments and helping us address the needs of our course,” said town Parks and Recreation Director Tina Pritchard. “You’ll be an active partner in making improvements and changes to the new course.”

So if you are an experienced player or just learning the sport they want your input and your energy, according to Pritchard.

For more information call the Recreation Department at 252-332-4811 or Chris Hammond at 252-862-6782.