Club disc golf team concludes fall season at prestigious tournament
The Liberty’s club disc golf team got to compete in the prestigious invite-only Dean’s Cup Oct. 10, just before the United States Disc Golf Championships.
The team earned the invitation to the event after an impressive top-four finish at nationals.
When the Flames have gone to the Cup in past years, it was by default due to some of the top teams’ inability to travel to the event. This year, however, they were excited to know early on that they earned an invite.
This year’s impressive roster returned 15 male players and added 10 newcomers to the roster. The team also returned one female player and added four more women this year, growing that part of the program significantly. This addition came in due time, as this is the first year that women were invited to participate in the Dean’s Cup.
“It’s really good for our ladies, one to be in the event, but to see some of the top ladies that they maybe follow and watch online,” Head Coach Steven Bowman said. “We’re right there next to the top pros. You get to talk to them, you get to hang out with them a little bit. For them as a college kid, you’re meeting people you look up to.”
The women opened tournament play against the defending champions, Missouri, and their nerves got the best of them during the first round.
They bounced back in the second round, shooting 17 strokes and earning the “hot round of the day,” or the lowest score of the day.
For those that don’t know much about disc golf, it’s scored similar to golf. The biggest difference is that players throw the discs into a basket rather than hitting a ball with a club into a hole. There also is more of a team atmosphere within college disc golf.
“Four players compete as one. We’d have ‘A’ pairing and ‘B’ pairing, and one or two of those in each of those flights would throw,” Bowman said. “Our ‘A’ pairing would tee off and both of them would throw, and then the ‘B’ pairing would go look at the best line of those throws, and then they would throw from that best spot and continue through that alternating pattern all the way through the course. It kind of creates that team dynamic, throwing into strengths and then who does well on certain holes. You kind of try and match that up with your players and then adjust accordingly.”
For both the men and women, many factors go into making these pairs, including who throws with the right and left hands, the distance of throws and everyone’s specific strengths and weaknesses. For Bowman, these elements can make putting pairs together challenging.
Men’s club disc golf has both D1, D2 and D3 programs, and women’s has just D1. Disc golf is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, which has attributed to the school’s programs growing as well.
“Nobody really does it like Liberty,” Bowman said. “I’m probably one of eight coaches throughout the country. Most programs are led by student(s), and so it takes a little while to get people back into school focused on all that stuff, and then ‘Hey, we’re going to play disc golf.’”
College disc golf, however, has reconstructed a lot of its major tournaments to happen in the spring so that all of the athletes are warm and ready.
Nationals has always taken place in April, with regional championships preceding. Conference championships will happen in the fall, and the team has to earn bids across the board to be able to compete in either of those events.
“I kind of build a team around those that are super excited about what Liberty has to offer. Our Christian focus and our ideals of ‘training champions for Christ.’ I think it’s something that still resonates with a lot of sports throughout our culture at Liberty, and I think that’s what we really hone in on (in) the fall,” Bowman said. “We do a lot of things outside of disc golf just to kind of gel together as a team. You’re able to push each other a little bit more.”
The Dean’s Cup marked the Flames’ final scheduled tournament of the fall, as they now set their sights on preparation for a solid spring season.
Bruss is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter