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Photo by Morgan Browning
Freshman Tyler Browning trudged up the concrete road by the East turf field. He crossed the sophomore lot and headed into Harmon Park. It was an abnormally hot Monday afternoon in September, but Browning wasn’t bothered by the heat. A seven period day behind him, Browning now got to play his favorite sport for the next hour and a half – disc golf.
Browning became interested in disc golf a few years ago, after he and freshman Palmer Bowles saw it at Youthfront Camp West. From there, the pair learned how to play when some friends from their church taught them how. Browning has been an avid “frolfer,” or Frisbee-golfer, ever since.
“I just love the feeling when you can really rip a good drive, and it just soars,” Browning said. “It feels so good inside.”
Disc golf is similar to regular golf, and the points are tallied the same way with pars, bogeys and so on. However, disc golf uses various types of Frisbees, which are thrown into a metal basket. The types of Frisbees mimic clubs in golf, like putters and drivers. The difficulty of each hole changes, with obstacles such as trees and length playing a role.
Browning and Bowles have played together for the past few years, but it is Browning who has really pursued the sport. Browning hopes to play it professionally one day; in fact he’s already technically a “professional.” Due to the age group he falls under, he’s registered as a Junior II member of the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association).
This past weekend, Browning played at Trilogy Öppna in Emporia. He placed third in the Junior II boys category, but Browning didn’t go into it for a title. Instead he went for fun and more experience.
Apart from the tournament, Browning practices weekly, even sometimes taking his discs on vacations. However with so much practice, there are a few casualties.
“I lost [a disc] in Florida,” Browning said. “It was at a pond, and I threw it and it rolled a while, like it was about to go to the basket, then it turned and rolled straight into the pond.”
Browning uses an app called UDisc that can track throws and keep score. It also shows nearby courses that he can play at it. When Bowles has time, the two will play together.
“It’s usually a little competitive,” Bowles said. “We’re usually trying to beat each other, but it’s always really fun. Most of the time we play at Harmon because it’s so close to where we live.”
So for now, Harmon Park is Browning’s go-to practice field. But maybe in a few years, he’ll be hearing the disc clink into the basket at as a real paid professional.