Fritz Park hosts annual disc golf tournament

Straight Line Discs and the Irving Parks and Recreation department joined forces to host the 18th annual Fritz Open Disc Golf Tournament in Fritz Park Sept. 16-17.

The city invested $5,000 to add new baskets and generally revive the course, which now boasts 18 baskets. Fritz Park’s course is now the oldest Disc Golf course in the DFW area that has been in continuous use since its creation.

DeWayne Furr of Straight Line Discs was invited to sponsor the event, which was revived by Irving Parks and Recreation Board member James Stewart three years ago after a long hiatus.

Furr founded Straight Line Discs in 2000 after six years of playing disc golf and realized the disc golf community did not have enough sponsors for tournaments and events.

Ziggy King, the only player in the Legend division, first encountered disc golf when deployed with the Navy during the Vietnam War. He and his companions played a modified version on their ship. In 1984, when King joined a group that plays on Saturday mornings in Fitz Park, the setup was not much more sophisticated; they used stripes on trees as targets and often could not tell whether the disc had hit the goal.

Even with his low-tech start, King has been the winner of four consecutive Texas State Masters tournaments and scored a 118 at this weekend’s tournament.

“He played out of division since he started,” said fellow disc golfer Mike McKenzie. “And he still beat us all.”

Jim Dart had a similar start. The aerostructure designer, who has worked on other disc golf courses, began playing something like disc golf on family vacations in the Tetons.

“We would go out tent camping. We took Frisbees and took turns picking tree trunks to hit,” Dart said. “We’d done that for three years and never heard of disc golf.”

Dart discovered the more formal version of the sport when playing in a park. A group of disc golfers lent him their discs, which are more balanced and generally easier to use than Frisbees.

“I left the disc on top of the basket and finished with my Frisbee,” Dart said. Eventually, he bought his own discs, and now plays regularly.

“You come out here for each other rather than the game itself,” McKenzie said. “The majority of us have been friends for 20 years.”

“You meet people from all walks of life,” Willy Castaneda said. He began playing for his health, but now looks forward to the comradery of Saturday mornings as much as the workout.

“It’s got every emotion that ball golf has,” Dart said, “only you don’t have to pay $50-60.”

Entry fees for the tournament ranged from $20 to $60 and earned the players T-shirts. Amateur players also received Frisbee golf discs. Straight Line Discs added $500 to the pot, so the cash prizes ranged from $58 to $275.

In the professional tournament on the first day, King was the only player in the Legend division and took home $75 and a score of 118. Castaneda beat out five other Senior Grandmasters with a score of 105, while Furr and Joe Sofinowski topped the seven participants in the Masters class with a tied score of 107. Of the seven competitors in the Open division, Trent Hadaway won $265 for his score of 95, the best overall score of the tournament.

Sunday was reserved for amateur play. Joshua Reed won the advanced division with a score of 99, while Zachary Gates topped the Advanced Masters with 104 points. Larry Rosemond scored 102 and won the Advanced Grandmasters division, and Samuel Smith won the Intermediate division with 104 points. James Marrs’ 110 beat out the rest of the Recreational division, and Claire Porrata won the Recreational Women’s division with 133 points.