Growing form of golf: Disc throwers having fun in relaxed environment at Palisade’s Riverbend Park
You can often see Don Hedgecock strolling through Palisade’s Riverbend Park pulling his disc golf clubs behind him. The gray-bearded Grand Junction 55-year-old is out there practically every weekend throwing his plastic disc at the chained baskets, visiting with other players and having a good time.
“Anybody can do it. If you can walk, you can do it,” he said. “Someone will say, ‘I don’t play well.’ I’ve been playing for more than 10 years and I still don’t play well. We’re just out to have a good time.
“You can take a call during play and the guys don’t mind. You can get here 20 minutes late, walk up to us on No. 3 and join us. We don’t mind. It’s very casual.”
Hedgecock is out there this weekend playing in the annual Grand Valley Open at Riverbend Park.
The tournament started Friday night with an exhibition doubles tournament. In doubles, each player throws their disc and the team can choose which throw to count toward their score.
“I love it,” Hedgecock said. “I need someone with a driver with me. You want a partner that can throw it.”
“I don’t expect to win. For 10 bucks to me, come on. This is fun. I want to see you play your best game. We had a tournament up in Glenwood and it rained. I didn’t mind. I had my umbrella and coat.”
The Grand Valley Disc Golf Open continues with 36 holes of play today and 27 on Sunday. It is sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association.
Registration is open from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. today with play beginning at 9 a.m.
There were 75 players registered as of 5:30 p.m. Friday. The limit is 90.
Registration is $50 for non-PDGA players, $60 for PDGA pros and $70 for non-PDGA professionals. The fee is for both days of tournament play.
There is a payout for the top five players in the pro division and prizes for the top amateur players.
The field includes a handful of players who have participated in the World Championships at some point and time, including Joe Rovere of Telluride, who tied for 20th in the men’s pro division last week in Crow Point, Ind.
Hedgecock has played a form of disc golf before there were even baskets to throw plastic discs.
“We did this camping all the time,” Hedgecock said. “We took trash can lids and threw them at trees and see who could get it there in the least amount of throws.
“It’s what you had. We had a good time. You can only play catch so long.”
He has played the sport officially since baskets were built in the valley and has met a lot of people through the sport he now considers friends.
“It’s growing exponentially. It’s free to play. I’ve been in more parks since I started playing this than I ever did before. I’ve been in the PDGA for six years now.”
Hedgecock competes in the advanced Grand Masters division (age 50-60). He is competing in his 11th Grand Valley Open.
“I should be in the rec Grand Masters division, but there isn’t anybody in it,” Hedgecock said.