At Hobson Grove Park, 80 disc golf players gathered in nearly freezing temperatures to play in the second annual WKU Fundraiser Event disc golf tournament on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The tournament started at 9 a.m. and consisted of two eighteen-hole rounds. Club president and WKU senior Ryan Messenger said the disc golf club raised $3,379.26 for travel expenses.
This tournament raised money for the disc golf club to travel to Georgia to play the Southeast Collegiate Open on Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12 and North Carolina in April to play at the College Disc Golf National Championship, club treasurer T.J. Renfro said.
“It’s pretty much completely funding the rest of our season and the start of next season,” Renfro said.
There were 10 different divisions that players competed in based on skill level and age. Players came from Kentucky and neighboring states like Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois, Messenger said.
The tournament included several other events, such as a “Closest to the Pole” competition in which whoever threw the farthest on a given hole would win a prize.
There was also a raffle, and between these contests, Messenger said there was over $2,000 worth of donated prizes.
There was also an optional $5 ace pot that players could pay into. Players could claim the pot if they scored an ace, otherwise known as a hole-in-one.
The pot was claimed by the competition’s only female competitor, Nina Guerrero, after scoring an ace on the first hole of the second round, Messenger said.
Messenger was the assistant tournament director this year. The main tournament director was Andrew Gowan, who works for Bomb Discs, a disc golf store in Lexington and one of the club’s sponsors.
Gowan said Bomb Discs enjoys working with collegiate teams and that they sponsor a few, including Asbury University and Morehead University.
“We enjoy working with them and helping them to chase their dreams out at college nationals,” Gowan said.
In addition to running the logistics of the event, Gowan also played during the round.
“It was a little chilly in the morning, hands were a little cold, but I like the course. It was my first time playing in Bowling Green; it was a fun event,” Gowan said.
Messenger was in charge of marketing the event for the disc golf club and gathering sponsors for the tournament.
Renfro played in the tournament last year, before he joined the WKU disc golf club.
“Everyone’s super kind and friendly,” Renfro said. “The tournament last year was one of the reasons I was able to get into it and feel comfortable being around everyone.”
The tournament also provided previous members a chance to come back and play again, such as Jonathan Rudolph, who played on the WKU disc golf team two years ago. He finished fifth place overall.
“I came just to support some of the kids that were on the team when I was as well,” Rudolph said. “Whatever we can do to get these kids to Nationals and tournaments.”
Jack Lord is a sophomore at WKU who joined the disc golf club a year ago. Much like many of the other competitors, he said he found the cold temperatures challenging.
The temperature at the start of the tournament was 33 F at 9 a.m. but to maintain a good grip on the disc, the players can’t wear gloves.
“It’s always hard to play in the cold, but you just gotta kind of suck it up,” Lord said.
Lord said he has been playing for two years, starting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Renfro also said he started at that time and both joined the club about a year ago.
“Disc golf, for me at least, has been a great way to get to know new people, not just from Western or from Bowling Green,” Lord said. “I’ve met some good friends through it and have grown closer to some old friends.”
The disc golf club meets twice a week in good weather, Lord said.
“We encourage members to come and just practice, first of all, and grow closer to each other,” Lord said.
Messenger said this is the second year the tournament was hosted at Hobson Grove Park.
He said Hobson Grove Park is a good location because of its close proximity to campus, making transporting equipment convenient. He also said it has a good course for players of all skill levels.
“Anywhere from novices to advanced level pros can enjoy it. There’s holes that can be reached by everyone so everyone can have a good time,” Messenger said.
Messenger said the people in the Bowling Green disc golf community enjoy supporting disc golf.
“It always blows my mind how much people are willing to support us and are just interested in what we’re doing,” he said.
Messenger said anyone interested in playing disc golf for the WKU club should email him at [email protected] They can also follow @wkudgc on Instagram.