Pro disc golf excites players in Grand Junction

Boulder’s Patrick McMahon makes his putt Sunday on hole No. 25 at Palisade Riverbend Park. Some of the best disc golfers around played this weekend in the Colorado State Disc Golf Championships.

For J.C. Kester, it was like watching Tiger Woods, only with a plastic disc in his hand instead of a driver.

The Grand Junction disc golf player was a bit in awe Sunday as the Professional Disc Golf Association stopped in Palisade and Fruita for the Colorado Disc Golf Championships.

Similar to its club-and-ball cousin, professional disc golf has rankings, and the event at the two Western Slope courses featured eight of the top 10 in the world and two former world champions, Avery Jenkins and Peter Shive.

Playing in the top flight was Kester, who was starstruck by some of the players in his group.

“I’ve really only played in Colorado tournaments,” Kester said. “It’s amazing to come out here and play the courses with some of the best in the world and see shots I’ve never seen before on this course. Just looking around and seeing all these top-ranked guys is awesome.”

The event featured 175 of the best disc golfers from around the nation, and was the biggest turnout the event has seen, said Rock Cesario, the president of the Grand Valley Disc Golf Club and the tournament director.

The elevation change was the biggest challenge for competitors. Phoenix native Paul Ulibarri, ranked No. 8 in the world, said the elevation drastically changes the way the discs fly.

“The discs definitely don’t fly the same,” Ulibarri said. “Drives fly differently and putts fall short a lot. It’s almost like playing a whole different game.”

The Colorado Disc Golf Championship is on the back end of the tour, and is one of many chances for golfers to improve their ranking and qualify for the PDGA World Championships next July.

Catrina Allen, also from Phoenix, is ranked No. 11 in the world among women and also said the change in elevation is what separates the Grand Valley from other courses.

“I had to change all my discs for this,” Allen said. “It makes shots and playing the course a lot different.”


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