Bryant pro gets his kicks through disc golf

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (KTHV) - Mark Twain is credited with calling golf "a good walk - spoiled."

Often it's spoiled by repeated trips into the woods, but there's a growing game that combines that nice walk with a little fitness, and a familiar family pastime.

And walking through the woods is part of it.

Doug Tranthem, 32, is a physical science teacher at J.A. Fair High School in Little Rock.

He's also a pro disc golfer.

The Bryant resident is under contract with a Swedish disc maker, Latitude 64, getting a steady supply of specialized flying discs as well as bags and other gear.

They also pay him when he places in certain tournaments around the country.

"When I ran track in college, I had a teammate from Minnesota where disc golf is huge," said Tranthem, who competed at UALR. "We would race to see how fast we could run through the course and the competitive side of me came out and I just loved it."

Getting into the sport is relatively easy. Courses are laid out in public parks across Arkansas including a new one in the Lake Degray resort that opened July 4th.

Unlike traditional golf equipment and lessons, the barriers to getting into disc golf are far lower.

"Most disc golf courses are free to play," Tranthem said. "We can just walk up to one of the tee pads and we can throw a disc."

While the costs are lower, there are many similarities to what disc throwers call "ball golf."

Courses are measured in feet instead of yards, but each hole has a par rating and you use different discs for different shots. All leading up to "baskets" which resemble basketball hoops without backboards.

The discs get thinner the farther they are designed to travel.

"You do not want to play catch with these," said Tranthem holding up a thin driver disc with a sharp edge.

One tournament on Tranthem's schedule is the Arkansas SmackTalk Open. That's another similarity to traditional golf: there's plenty of opportunities to needle friends and rivals while navigating the wooded or parkland courses.

"Once you make a great shot in disc golf, you're addicted."

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