A familiar scene played out last weekend in Columbia County.
After finishing a round on a brutal course, golfers gathered to commiserate.
"What did you shoot," one player asked.
"A 69," the other replied, somewhat dejectedly.
Only Tiger Woods would be disappointed with a 69, but this was a different game. The players were discussing a round of Disc Golf at the Patriots Park course.
The Augusta Disc Golf Association sponsored a weekend of fun and competition, which began with Saturday's round at Patriots Park. Clubs players from Greeneville, Orangeburg and Columbia, S.C., and also Atlanta, made the trip.
"We invited all the clubs to come in and play this course, because they haven't seen it yet," said Brian Graham, a board member and co-founder of the ADGA.
Later, afternoon doubles play was staged at the Riverview Park course in North Augusta. The club members camped out at Riverview Park on Saturday night, and competed in a night-glow Disc Golf tournament. On Sunday, there were long-drive and putting contests.
The ADGA currently has around 80 members. The club has weekly events at Pendleton King Park (6 p.m. Tuesday), Riverview Park (6 p.m. Thursday) and Patriots Park (1 p.m. Sunday).
"We encourage all skill levels to come out," Graham said. "We're not just for advanced level players. We have players as young as six and up to 65 playing."
Just like the sport played at Augusta National Golf Club, Disc Golf is a mental and physical challenge.
"You hear about it and think, 'How hard can that be?," Upstate Disc Golf Association member John Henderson said while touring the Patriots Park layout. "Then you try it and it's a totally different story."
Golf discs are really refined Frisbees - they feature a beveled edge to enhance flight, and are smaller and heavier. The disc golfer also uses an array of discs for various shots, like long-range drives, putts or curved throws. A hole is completed when the disc lands in a special disc catcher.
Beginners can play with just one disc, which ranges in price from $7-10.
Disc Golf is inexpensive; greens fees are rare, although players do sometimes lose a disc on wooded courses.
That was certainly a possibility at Patriots Park, which features a creek, dense woods and rolling terrain.
"To keep it simple, we consider everything a Par 3, but really, out here it's a Par 58," ADGA member Mike Newman said after firing a 57. "This is the toughest course in town."
Newman got hooked on Disc Golf about four years ago, after he had become frustrated with "ball golf." The Columbia County resident now competes in the Open, or professional, division of Disc Golf.
North Augusta resident Mel Shuman shot 54 to take first at Patriots Park. He's only been playing for three years, but has a secret for refining his game.
"To get good, you can't play a lot, because you can only get so many throws in," Shuman said. "You have to go out and just throw; get a partner, go out in a field and just play catch."
Shuman got off to a rocky start Saturday, but after going six over through four holes, he birdied six of the next seven.
That display of skill shows why he's a pro, but the 37-year-old isn't looking to make a living at Disc Golf.
But he does have some goals.
"Practice a lot and enjoy it," Shuman says. "You can't take it personal, you can't take it serious - it's just a game."
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