Disc golf tournament lights up the night

At the first hole of the UAF Disc Golf course, second year competitor, Ben Cobb prepares to throw his first disc at the "Long Knight" disc golf tournement on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. Erin McGroarty/Sun Star

At the first hole of the UAF Disc Golf course, second year competitor, Ben Cobb prepares to throw his first disc at the "Long Knight" disc golf tournement on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. Erin McGroarty/Sun Star

Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 4, 2011

Temperatures dipped close to freezing as streaks of light from glowing discs filled the air, spinning toward goals marked with a ring of glow sticks. Ten two-person teams worked their way through the first annual “Long Knight” evening disc golf tournament. Because this was a newly announced event, there were few spectators. The onlookers that came remained enthusiastic and dedicated, following along despite the dark and cold. The University of Alaska Fairbanks Outdoor Adventures office hosted the tournament on Thursday, Sept. 29.

Although the university has hosted past disc golf tournaments, this was the first time they held one so late in the fall. Outdoor Adventures (OA) decided put a twist on the tradition and to make this an evening tournament, adding discs with built-in LED lights to the mix. The office planned the event for months.

“We only got the discs yesterday, which was a little scary,” said Mark Oldmixon, head of OA, on the day of the tournament. Oldmixon is the main brain behind the tournaments.

A hole is not complete until the disc lands in the basket or in the chains. A player’s forward-most foot must be on or within 11 inches of where the previous disc landed. All tosses to the basket and penalty strokes add up to the hole’s total score. A disc that lands six feet or more above the ground is out of bounds. An out-of-bounds throw means the team must start the hole over and the score is docked one point.

Starting at 7 p.m., teams had little time to play before it became too dark to see. At that point, the teams received new LED discs sporting the UAF logo. Pairs of teams started in a staggered order so they wouldn’t run into each other while playing. This course weaves through campus, starting next to McIntosh Hall and finishing in Beluga Field. Each of the 18 holes is listed at a different difficulty level to keep up variety. Because each hole is different, each player had different preferences.

“I hate this hole,” said Josh Harris, a long time disc golf fan and player, as he approached the fourth hole near the campus family housing, “I’m a lefty, so throwing this forearmed, and in the dark, is going to be the worst. It’s even hard when it’s in the middle of the day.”

Although it was dark outside, most players had little difficulty moving from hole to hole, because they had played the course before and knew it well. Throughout the tournament, Oldmixon followed along with his white board, recording the scores of each pair of teams.

There were also smaller competitions within a tournament. After each team started off at the first tee, Oldmixon waited at the fourth hole farther up the hill behind the UAF family housing  to measure the distance between each player’s disc and the hole. The competitor with the shortest distance won a free ticket to next spring’s Banff Mountain Film Festival, held annually in the Davis Concert Hall, and a certificate for free nachos at the UAF Pub.

This tournament lasted from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and teams worked through all 18 holes. Tournament officials have no confirmed plans for a second “Long Knight” tournament in 2012.

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