Simpson repeats as state champ

Juneau disc golfer will participate in the world championships this August

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2006

As the wind began to gain pace during the Alaska Disc Golf Association's state championship in Anchorage, Juneau's Johnny Simpson knew he had the edge.

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"I don't get disappointed with a bad shot," he said.

His placid demeanor gave him the touch he needed on the disc to toss a final score of 213 over both days of the tournament June 24-25.

He scored 3-under par on a course that played like New York's infamous Bethpage Black, the notoriously tricky links that frustrated the PGA's best at the 2002 U.S Open. Simpson was the only competitor to finish under par. He won his second consecutive state title.

The field at the state championships was apparently more competitive this year than last. The 39-year-old Simpson outlasted younger, bigger throwing players with the guile of a 20-year veteran of the sport.

"He played smart," Juneau Disc Golf Association President J.D. Brown said. "He didn't play their game. He kept his disc in the fairway."

With his state title in tow, Simpson will travel to the granddaddy of them all for disc golfers - the Professional Disc Golf Association's World Championships - on Aug. 7-12 in Augusta, Ga. It will be the 25th annual world championships.

The prize for first place is $80,000, which should be incentive enough for everyone in Juneau to pick up a disc and start golfing.

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Disc golf is basically golf with a Frisbee.

The disc used is much more ample than a normal Frisbee. It's made of heavier material and able to travel farther than the plastic ones found on most beaches. There are different discs that players can use for different types of shots - a putter disc for short strokes, a driver to fling from the tee box and mid-range discs that are akin to the irons in golf.

A player holes a shot by striking chains that hang like a basket suspended atop a metal pole.

Juneau's local course is Aant'iyeik Park, a 4,237-foot layout in the woods by the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal that features 18 holes.

Brown, head of the local Juneau Disc Golf Association, led the way to create the park, which opened in 2004.

"I'm the one who went to the city and made the proposal," Brown said. "I just wanted a place to play."

Simpson estimates that 200 people a week play the local course. Apparently visiting tourists have also caught on to the trend.

"Alaska is the destination for a lot of people that do a lot of things," Simpson said. "Just last week, there was two guys that came up from Alabama."

Juneau and disc golf seem perfect for each other. It's a sport to play in the town's verdant woods and it's also a form of golf that's in tune with Juneau's natural order.

The tips of branches and tall spruce trees serve as divots and sand traps.

The Juneau Disc Golf Association is planning a workshop in the near feature for new players. Interested disc golfers can contact Brown at (907) 463-3353 or e-mail him at

"Go out into a field and just throw a disc and see what it does," Brown said.

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