To some students, disc golf is 'more than smoking weed or drinking beer'
Four years ago during the beginning of his freshman year, international relations senior Eric Savoie decided he wanted to start a disc golf club here at MSU.
“I got the idea to get a club going, and that same week my buddy texted me a picture of a flyer — it was from some guy named Ziggy — that said disc golf club being formed, informational meeting this day,” Savoie said. “I was like, no kidding.”
Turns out, “some guy named Ziggy,” has been a professional disc golfer since he was 15. Human biology senior Ziggy Bierekoven is sponsored by disc manufacturer Innova and placed in the top 30 at the Professional Disc Golf World Championships in both 2013 and 2011.
Savoie, who is now the president of the club, got in touch with Ziggy and they collaborated with a few others to get the club going.
“I found out from Ziggy that there used to be a club at MSU that was founded in 2007. But within a couple years it died out,” Savoie said. “Part of the reason was not complying with what the university wanted. We actually share the course with the Agriculture Expo, which goes on every summer.
Because of that we’re supposed to pull all the baskets at the end of every school year so the grass can heal and the baskets don’t get in the way of the event. The club at the time just straight up didn’t pull out the baskets. The university got really mad and essentially took out the course.”
Another reason Savoie believes the club failed was due to a lack of leadership.
“We actually haven’t had any formal elections the last couple years. It’s sort of been the people that were the most interested that took the positions, Savoie said. “At the end of October, I’m actually going to be having formal elections to fill our four vacant e-board positions. I’m in the process of restructuring our Constitution just to help our club be successful for years to come.”
Last year, the club qualified for the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships, which are held in North Augusta, S.C., but did not have the funds or enough players who had the time or money to go. However, the club recently qualified for nationals for this upcoming April and Savoie is hoping they can make the trip.
“That’s one of our primary goals for this year, to raise enough money as a club to be able to send our players without them having to take any money out of their pocket, and so we can represent MSU,” Savoie said.
Another goal the club has for the year is to gain more respect from MSU and to change the perception of disc golf as a whole.
“A lot of people, the first thing they think of when they hear disc golf is smoking weed or drinking beers. I do want our club to have a good time but I don’t want that to be the emphasis, and I don’t want to have that stigma attached with disc golf anymore,” Savoie said.
Savoie credits the accessibility of the sport as the reason he got into disc golf in the first place, “in contrast with golf where you’re having to pay at least $10, even on the cheapest courses.”
“Over 90 percent of disc golf courses in the U.S. are free to play. It’s really nice that you don’t need to have a tee time and frisbees are only around $10,” he said.
The club had about 30 members last year and is still registering members for this year. There was a registration fee to join the club last year, but Savoie has decided to make the club free this year in hopes that more people will want to join.
“Something that bothered me is that I would go out on the course and see a bunch of people playing that weren’t a part of the club. The club really does have a lot to offer,” Savoie said. “Not only can you learn a lot more from the sport by playing with other people, but it’s just a lot of fun playing in groups. So I’m hoping by making it free, more people will become a part of it.”
On Oct. 18, the Disc Golf Club will be having a clinic open to anyone at the MSU disc golf course, located at 3600 Mount Hope Road. The clinic will be hosted by disc golf professional Mark Ellis and other Lansing professionals.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to learn from one of the most knowledgeable disc golf players in the U.S,” Savoie said.