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2nd annual “Vets for Veterans” disc golf tournament fundraiser attracts players from far and wide

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View of the Old Mill Disc Golf course prior to the start of the tournament

By GEORGE CUSTER/The Herald  —  I had just arrived at the site of this year’s 2nd Annual Veterans for Vets disc golf tournament. So, I’m thinking I’ve got plenty of time to meet with some of the participants and organizers before the tournament really starts. After all, it’s still around thirty-five degrees and there’s frost everywhere. They probably won’t kick this thing off for a while yet.

TOOT!!! went the starting horn, and I’m now worrying that I may be in the line of fire for a disc-missile on its way to a basket.

A disc golfer prepares for a throw Herald photo

As I approach the crest of the hill above the course, I’m surprised to see that there are people, over a hundred of them I’m told, standing on the tees. They are in full swing (yes, pun intended) to throw their first discs. Do they pitch, throw, swing, or is there another term they use for sending their discs sailing forward toward their intended target? I don’t know disc golfing jargon yet.

Regardless, as I’m trying to navigate the course and stay out of harm’s way, I meet three gentlemen on one of the tees who are readying to start. Mike, Rick, and Josh were assigned, I’m told, to be a team. Two of the three played in last year’s tournament, with this being Josh’s first tournament at the Old Mill Disc Golf Course. None of the three are from Oakridge. I wanted to ask more questions of the three, but I could tell that they were ready to commence play. The sounding of the starting horn signaled the start of competition, so I tried to quietly leave the group.

I’m now looking for baskets and trying to steer clear of them since things are now underway. You really need keep your head on a swivel to avoid being an unintentional target yourself. I was now hoping that the resident elk herd was on the course to give me an alibi.

I managed to get to the registration area, hoping to find safety there. Jason Nehmer, the event’s organizer, and local volunteer for all things Oakridge, was there at his field desk. I felt safely out of the way now.

When asked, Jason explained that yes, there are over one-hundred persons playing today. There are age groups, as well as skill level groups. There are also veteran groups, amateur groups, advanced or masters groups…you name it. Jason had to remind me several times that it is organized and played just like golf…you know, the one with the clubs and little balls.

Not being a disc golfer myself, I’m kind of out of the loop as to this sport’s popularity. Jason was more than happy, seeing the blank look on my face, to fill me in. I can tell he is really enjoying himself. He smiles a lot.

Jason told me that the sport of disc golf is popular worldwide. He said it is hugely popular in Japan, but that it is very prevalent, as well, throughout Europe.

Though a fundraiser for veterans, I asked Jason if there were prizes for today tournament? He was quick to start pulling all sorts of cool stuff that was donated for prizes. There’s some serious stuff here.

Some of the prizes being awarded Herald photo

The top prizes include some Kershaw knives (made in Oregon), a bottle of whisky from our very own Deep Woods Distillery, some top-quality discs (I believe him though I wouldn’t know a good disc from a lawnmower blade). He also pointed out that there are hundreds of dollars in gift certificates and many other items to be given away. “To the victor goes the spoils,” as they say.

When asked, Jason believed that the person coming the farthest to participate was from Vancouver, Washington. When I asked, I found out that folks were coming from all over to compete in this fundraising event.

I was curious if there were “official’ organizations that made up disc golf. Jason told me the preeminent organization is the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA). Their headquarters is in Augusta, Georgia. My head began to spin when Jason started to explain how one might get points, depending on their level of play and whether it’s at a sanctioned event. So on and so forth… He reminded me again: it’s just like golf. It was time for me to move on.

I stopped a group of three women who were getting ready to tee off. Andrea, from Portland, was teamed up with Adena from Bend and Crystal from Lebanon, Oregon. This was Crystal’s first tournament at the Old Mill course.

Jeff Martin of Springfield, middle, was the tournament’s high score. Debra Borton photo

Adena attended last year’s tournament and is here today with her husband and son, all three competing in today’s event. Andrea, though from Portland, has a vacation house here in Oakridge.

Again, I had many more questions for the three women. However, they had that look of concentration on the tee and didn’t want me messing up their game mojo. Off I went. Now I had to make my way back to my car at the far end of the course, flying objects be damned.

There were tons of prizes for the multitude of winners from all of the various categories. Winning for overall best score was Jeff Martin of Springfield. At day’s end, everybody seemed happy. Saving the best for last: The tournament raised $1,250 that is to be donated to The American Legion, Post 64, Oakridge Chapter. Thank you, Jason, and thank you to all the wonderful people who travelled from far and wide to attend the fundraiser disc golf tournament for veterans.

Next up: The development of a second area disc golf course in Westfir. The championship level course is to be located on the site of the former Hines Luber Co. near the Portal Park, across the covered bridge in Westfir.

A basket on the Old Mill Disc Golf Course Herald photo

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