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Chain Reaction: Disc golf popularity soars

May 14, 2014 - Groveland Twp.- Paul Holstein has played disc golf in a foot of snow and in pouring rain, but on May 10, he played in near ideal conditions.

Under clear blue skies, with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, as the sun shone down, Holstein took aim off the first tee at Holly Woods Disc Golf Course and threw a Frisbee that sailed through the air and curved around trees, his goal a basket 335 feet away.

The 1985 Brandon High School graduate and Clarkston resident was among 96 participants in the Chain Reaction Disc Golf Tournament at Holly Recreation Area, sponsored by the Flint Town Flyerz, a disc golf club based in Davison. The tournament was at maximum capacity— four players for each of the 24 holes on the course. The length of holes for the tournament ranged from 177 feet to 544 feet.

The popularity of disc golf has exploded in recent years, evidenced by ever escalating numbers of players, as well as courses.

Holstein began playing disc golf eight years ago.

"I used to work at Groveland Oaks and disc courses started popping up," he said. "I liked it way more than (traditional) golf. It's laid back and free."

Now, he plays several days a week, on multiple leagues.

While the tournament seemed to be dominated by males, Paul Grasso, tournament director, noted that another all-women tournament was taking place in Lansing the same day. At the Chain Reaction tournament, contestants participated by division according to skill level, as well as age. Divisions include Grand Masters, Masters, and AM 1-4. Prizes were to be awarded to the top 45 percent in each division. Entrants paid a $35 entry fee. Eighteen berths were to be awarded to the state disc golf championship, planned for Labor Day weekend in Ludington.

"We hope to continue the growth of courses and the number of players," said Grasso, adding with a smile, "and more coverage of events... We have a course fund, then we can approach a park and ask to help fund nine baskets, tee pads and clearing. It draws business to the town where the course is and offers inexpensive recreation. It's a family activity."

Ron Simpson, 49, was leading the grand masters division at the end of the first round. The Groveland Township resident has played disc golf for two decades.

"It's a nice way to spend an afternoon and I've met a lot of cool people," he said. "I play close to eight to ten tournaments a year... I like Holly Woods. It's local, easy to get to and it's a really pretty course."

Holly Woods Disc Golf Course is located in Holly Recreation Area, 8100 Grange Hall Road. Call 248-634-8811 or go to michigandnr.com. More information can also be obtained at the Professional Disc Golf Association website at pdga.com. For more information on Flint Town Flyerz, friend them on Facebook. Holly Woods Disc Golf Course is also on Facebook.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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