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Disc golfers take to the course for CSX Pro/Am

May. 03, 2009 @ 12:33 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Typically, when players hit the greens it's to work on their golf game, but Saturday at Rotary Park, the only thing flying down the fairways were discs.

The CSX Pro/AM Open II disc golf tournament kicked off with two rounds of action at Rotary Park. The tournament will conclude today with the final round at Armco Park in Ashland, Ky.

Lavalette's Johnny Sias not only competed on the two courses at Rotary Park, he is credited for helping to build and design both of them. Sias has sparked a local interest in disc golf by providing a place to play and being an exceptional talent at the sport in his own right.

Sias began playing disc golf in 1979 when he was 26-years-old. With just seven years of experience under his belt, Sias traveled to Charlotte, N.C. and captured the world disc golf title in 1986.

For his accomplishments and distinction in the sport, Sias was named to the 2001 Disk Golf Hall of Fame. Sias is a true innovator for the sport both locally and nationally.

"Disc golf is a sport that all ages can play and enjoy," Sias said. "It's good exercise and it's kinds of like hiking."

Sias is still at the top of his game at 56. He won a tournament in Lexington, Ky. just two weeks ago. Sias gets plenty of practice since he finished building two disc golf courses at his own home.

Players gathered from all over to compete in the CSX Tournament. Sias said he knew of players competing in the tournament from North Carolina, Virginia, Nebraska, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. He said there might be more athletes competing from other states as well.

There are two courses at Rotary Park. The 18-hole, Par-57 India Rock Course and the 19-hole Par-58 Rotary Course. All of the holes range from 200 to 500 feet.

A throw is successfully made when a player hits the chain and the disc rests in the basket. Several discs with different aerodynamics are used. There is a disc iron, disc driver and disc putter.

Sias pulled a hip muscle Saturday and shot a six-over par 64 on the Rotary Course, which he said was the worst round he ever shot. Sias once shot a 12-under par 46 on the same course.

Ben Shooner traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio to compete in the tournament. Shooner said he has been playing in tournament's since 2003 and his passion for the sport continues to grow.

"We have a lot of courses in Cincinnati and that's really how I started playing," Shooner said. "It's really fun to travel around and meet new people while playing in tournaments."

Shooner said what makes disc golf an even better sport is it's free to the public in most all parks. Free entertainment is a huge draw with the recent economic slump. Several players said playing regular golf can be expensive with rising green-fee costs.

Ken Rollins of Central, Ohio has been a disc golf pro for the past five years. Rollins said his furthest range of throwing a disc is 380 feet, but at the end of the day it's about having fun."

"One of the things about disc golf is it becomes a big family thing," Rollins said. "You see a lot of familiar faces from tournament to tournament and you make a lot of life-time friendships."



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