August 27, 2013 12:10:21 PM
Clayton Nash hopes the first time proves to be a hit -- or hole in one -- with the city of Columbus.
On Saturday and Sunday, competitors from throughout the Southeast will converge on Columbus to compete in the Southern National Pro Championship. The Southern National is a series of disc golf tournaments throughout the region that concludes with the finals in a different city each year. Nash said this will be Columbus' first chance at playing host to the championship. The Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau is a title sponsor to the event, which will feature some of the top disc golfers in the world for the PDGA B tier and a USDGC qualifier. The Columbus Disc Golf Association helped organize the bid to get the
"One of the big reasons we wanted to hold such a big tournament in Columbus is we wanted to show we have some of the best courses in the state, which we really do," said Nash, who is a local professional disc golfer who is tournament director. "I have played more than 120 courses in my career and we have some off the best courses in the state, but nobody knows about them because Columbus hasn't had a lot of big tournaments."
Disc golf is a sport played much like traditional golf. The major differences are the equipment and the cost. Rather than clubs and balls, disc golfers use flying discs (commonly referred to as Frisbees&153;). The discs are thrown through the air from a tee toward a target, which is a standing object of some kind. Anything can be used. The target of choice however is a "Pole Hole." A Pole Hole is a standing, usually metal object, that has an entrapment section. Also, the distances for a disc golf course are much shorter than that of a ball golf course.
Columbus played host to the Mississippi State Championship several years ago, but Nash hopes the course and organization of this year's event will help sell the city and attract more players to the area.
Spectators are encouraged to watch the action at both locations. Disc golf etiquette is similar to regular golf. In addition to the disc golf course at Propst Park, there will be two courses at Lake Lowndes State Park.
Nash started playing disc golf nine years ago when he was a student Itawamba Community College. He played every day after his first exposure to the sport. He said within three months he was doing well and discovered a local league in Tupelo, and has been "hooked" on tournaments ever since.
"I play 25 to 30 tournaments per year," Nash said. "In October, I will go to Rock Hill, S.C., but I generally don't travel more than four or five hours unless it is a big, big tournament."
Nash said purses in this part of the country typically range from $500-1,000. He hopes to have a $10,000 purse if there is a big enough turnout. The field will be capped at 144 players. Only the first 144 players invited (based on final 2012-2013 points) were allowed to sign up before Aug. 1. Nash hopes to have more than 100 professional players competing this weekend.
"After the tournament, we would like to start growing the (Columbus Disc Golf Association)," Nash said. "That is going to take some time, too, but if you look around on a pretty day there are probably 50 people playing disc golf, but not all of them are members of the club."
Anyone who is interested in joining the Columbus Disc Golf Association can do a search for it on Facebook.
Round one of the Southern National Pro Championship will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Pool A will be at Lake Lowndes. Pool B will be at Propst Park. Play will continue with round three at 9 a.m. Sunday. There will be a final six holes, continuation of score for the top four Open scores plus ties.
Disc Golf United (DGU) will donate $2 to the SNPC for every player who pre registers for the SNPC on their website. Also, every player for the SNPC will get a T-shirt.
The entry fee is $80. All pro players can register at www.discgolfunited.com. Registration closes at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
For more information about the tournament and disc golf, you can go to www.sndg.org.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.