With all of the coverage that the golf team at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) received for their national championship earlier this year, not much was made of the fact that the school’s disc golf team finished tenth place at their own Nationals earlier this year in April. However, being the school’s oldest club, the disc golf team has been impressive since their beginning.
The disc golf class (KIN 141) was designed by Dr. Stancil Johnson, a former CSUMB professor that retired in 2007. Johnson currently holds a spot in the International Frisbee Hall of Fame. The class is currently instructed by local pro and coach Merle Witvoet. Some players on the team like to call him their Yoda.
One of the greatest unknown features of CSUMB is the fact that there are two professional disc golf courses right on campus. The first came in 1998, thanks to the late “Steady” Ed Headrick, whom CSUMB’s website describes as “the inventor of the modern Frisbe and the sport of disc golf.” It was called the Cypress Course (and still is), though in 2009 the two courses combined were renamed “The Stancil Courses at CSU Monterey Bay, featuring Cypress and Oaks” in honor of Dr. Johnson. The Oaks course, laid out on the campus’ south side, came five years after Cypress.
“We’re really fortunate to have two courses here,” says Sam Bahlenhorst, Senior, Psychology, president of the club. “It would be great for students to remember that. The game, the courses are free—it’s cheap here. The access and the privilege make us lucky.” Bahlenhorst was an alternate last Spring for the collegiate Nationals when the team went to Augusta, GA—the site of the world famous Masters club golf tournament each year around the same time. It was the team’s first trip to the national championship. “Yes there is a Nationals, there is a professional Frisbee Hall of Fame, and it is a professional sport,” said Bahlenhorst.
Though disc golf may be seen as somewhat of a “frat” sport, the team takes the competition and the rules as seriously as any other sport’s. Players keep constant sobriety during practice and tournament play, respect the etiquettes of play when another player is throwing (like club golf, one should not talk or stand in another player’s eyesight), and even rise early to gather on Sunday mornings for pickup matches. Of course, that is all for organized play. As Bahlenhorst explains, “It’s a great time, the courses offer a lot of privacy out here and a lot of amateurs like to have a little fun when they play. But for us, that’s not an option—that will get you disqualified. For us, it’s just about a lot of practicing and just getting excited about playing.”
Currently the team is preparing for the West Coast College Open (WCCO), which will be held on the Oaks Course (by Building 98) from November 11-13. The tournament already has its first sixteen teams signed up and ready, but there is still time for others. It is a match play style consisting of five and eight-person teams. The match play style is designed for parity. Says Brandon White, “It’s just more fun for the players, that way one team can’t jump too far ahead because of one bad hole.” White actually won the Putting Championship in Augusta, making him the nation’s best disc golf putter.
“I’d like to see more people give this a shot and not be so intimidated,” explains. Bahlenhorst. “The game is really progressing and it’s just not like most sports—you don’t lose anything as you age.”
Course maps are available on the CSUMB website.