A new spin on an old game
Published: Monday, January 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 23, 2012 01:01
Walking around campus at night, one might encounter Live Action Role Players engaging in swordplay and security guards making the rounds on golf carts. A new addition to campus nightlife is a barrage of Frisbees.
The USF Men's Ultimate Frisbee Club now organizes occasional rounds of campus disc golf, a game that combines the format of disc golf with a USF backdrop. Instead of chain-link baskets, players aim for specified landmarks — such as trees, garbage cans or The Oracle boxes — and attempt to make par.
The club started playing over winter break, when the course they usually play at USF Riverfront Park was closed. They decided to play around 10 p.m. to avoid pedestrians.
"Some of the older guys on the team started it a few years ago, but we just recently made it a regular thing," said Chasen Brokaw, a senior majoring in health sciences. "The (course) at Riverfront was closed, so we figured, ‘What was stopping us from making our own course?'"
Traditional rules for disc golf require smaller, heavier discs made to fit in chain-link baskets. For campus disc golf, club players use Frisbees to practice their various throws while touring campus.
"It's a more casual Frisbee game than Ultimate," said Jordan Williams, a senior majoring in industrial engineering. "It's a fun way to walk around campus with friends."
Guidelines aren't strict, as players often make them up as they go. A variety of unique obstacles and buildings allow for creativity when deciding on what the group will be aiming for. The club traditionally starts eight stories up at the top of the Richard A. Beard parking garage.
One by one, they take turns launching their Frisbees as far as they can across an empty parking lot toward a metal pole on the ground. This provides for a one-of-a-kind throwing experience.
"It doesn't really matter how hard you throw it (off the garage)," Brokaw said. "It comes down to throwing it correctly and catching the right current."
The group then works its way around the ponds of Simmons Park. After avoiding a few water hazards, players move across the parking lot adjacent to the Psychology building and shoot for a lone bench underneath a tree. Par-5s that cover a couple hundred yards allows players to compete for distance.
"For disc golf you have to throw farther, which we don't do a lot in (campus disc golf)," said Dario Milano, a senior majoring in civil engineering. "And if you do a bigger throw in the game, it's like a Hail Mary in football: It's an easy way to get points."
Though players say it's fun and relaxing, campus disc golf also serves as a chance for USF's Ultimate Frisbee Club to practice accurately throwing in a variety of ways. Obstructed by a tall tree, Brokaw winds up for a hammer throw, which starts out perpendicular to the ground but ends up gliding parallel upside-down to its destination.
Williams' first throw lands him behind a wall of the Psychology building. He plants one foot where his disc landed and lunges out around the wall to perform a "flick." This move is the opposite of the traditional throw, using the thrower's thumb, index and middle finger to spin the disc from the outside of his or her body.
As the group makes its way to the center of campus, they designate a few "roller holes." These consist of a long hallway, such as the arches near the MLK Plaza, that encourage rolling the disc on a straight line. Those who opt to throw need perfectly straight trajectories to make par.
"We'll actually use that technique in Ultimate — it's like switching between a driver and a 9-iron in regular golf," Williams said. "If it's real windy, we'll try and roll the disc when we go throw the disc off to the other club."
The course takes the club members through MLK Plaza and over to Argos residence halls, before circling back through the Leroy Collins Boulevard parking garage and across Leroy Collins Boulevard.
The pioneers of this game insist there's no wrong way to play. All one needs is a disc, an hour or two to spare and an imagination. They also encourage those who've never played to reach out to the club for more information.
"Anytime we want to do campus disc golf, we post it on our Facebook page (USF Ultimate)," Milano said. "Students can come out to Ultimate practice to learn the throws and then tag along for rounds of disc golf."