David Garcia is familiar with Circle C Ranch’s disc golf course.
The physics senior and Texas Ultimate team member has played the course’s unforgiving trees, rocky terrain and 500-foot holes dozens of times in the past six months. Once his club, the Texas Ultimate team, had its 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19, Garcia began playing disc golf as often as four times per week as a way to be safely active outdoors while still engaging in some semblance of traditional Frisbee.
And he isn’t the only Texas Ultimate player who took up the sport.
In the last six months, more than 14 Texas Ultimate players have started playing disc golf weekly as a way to socialize, socially distanced, while maintaining a connection to the sport they love.
“I think it’s just that I like throwing Frisbees. Watching them fly and take their full flight and how they turn and glide, it’s so cool to watch,” Garcia said. “But also to be able to be good at (Frisbee) and compete with your friends is a ton of fun. That competition is similar to what you find in Ultimate.”
John Clyde, sophomore computer science major and Texas Ultimate player, shares Garcia’s view on the similarities between disc golf and Ultimate Frisbee. Clyde began playing with his own Frisbees instead of disc golf discs, just to stay sharp for the 2021 Ultimate season.
But not all members of the Ultimate team were as quick to take up the sport. Some of Clyde’s teammates, like Greg Lowry, senior aerospace engineering major, were initially hesitant to begin playing disc golf out of fear that playing and throwing the discs would hinder their ability to throw a Frisbee.
However, when much of the country entered a lockdown in late March due to COVID-19, Lowry became bored enough to give disc golf a shot.
“When COVID hit and we weren’t really able to play Ultimate, a lot of us were like, ‘Well, we can probably figure this out, this probably isn’t going to be too hard,’” Lowry said. “‘Let’s go play this sport because we know we can socially distance and be safer.’”
As of Jan. 25, Texas Ultimate has yet to begin practicing but hopes to open the 2021 season in late spring. Not all players are certain if they’ll return to the team this season due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19 or when they may play ultimate frisbee again.
But one thing is certain: Garcia, Lowry and Clyde will continue playing disc golf, regardless of if there is an Ultimate season in 2021 or not.
“I think part of it is that it’s just an easy way to get out and do something active with friends and people from the team," Clyde said. “It’s a fun thing to do in general. Since we weren’t able to play Ultimate, it’s a safe and easy way to just have fun hanging out with friends.”