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story.lead_photo.caption Jeremiah Fontenot throws a disc Saturday toward a basket at the Jefferson City Open Disc Golf Tournament. Fontenot, who is stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, played with a recreation team. Photo by India Garrish

People who took part in Saturday's disc golf tournament in Jefferson City said the sport is a good way to meet people and enjoy the outdoors, and one woman said it's gotten more popular this year.

Whether or not COVID-19 was a reason, there were more people signed up this year for the 13th Jefferson City Open Disc Golf Tournament — an annual event.

Will Ward, an organizer, said 126 people had signed up, compared to 101 or so last year.

Mary Abbott, of Eldon — who was in a group with Lorie Baysinger, of Jefferson City; Stacey Ennis, of St. Louis; and Will Ward's daughter Lu Ward, of Jefferson City — said disc golf and the demand for the discs have grown since the pandemic started.

Even without COVID-19, though, Abbott said "it's a great lifetime family sport."

The group said they enjoy being outdoors and having fun with one another.

Sparky Zumwalt, of Columbia, said he's been playing since 1983, after he got interested when a tournament came to his town, and "it just looked like a whole lot of fun."

Zumwalt said people travel from all over to play.

Barack Barton, of Lebanon, said he had never played at the Joseph C. Miller Disc Golf Course at Binder Lake Park before, while Ben Neufeld, also of Lebanon, said he had.

Neufeld said he enjoys the camaraderie and never plays by himself.

He got into the sport when a friend from high school asked him to play.

Neufeld said, as with anything else, "When you start out, you start out bad" but improve.

Barton recommended people interested in getting into disc golf find a local course.

Saturday's tournament — which continues today — was played at three courses, Joseph C. Miller and the Dam courses at Binder Lake Park and Greenway Park in Holts Summit.

Ennis said to look on Facebook for local clubs.

Will Ward said more information is available on the Jefferson City club's Facebook page — facebook.com/JeffersonCityDiscGolfClub.

He also said there are leagues available some nights during the year, including a Monday night league at County Park in Jefferson City.

More information about the Binder Park courses is also available through the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department at jeffersoncitymo.gov/parks/outdoor_activities/parks/disc_golf.php.

Zumwalt also advised people interested in learning more about the sport can visit pdga.com — the website for the Professional Disc Golf Association.

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