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Region to host disc golf world championships in 2015

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 4:15 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband
Denny Velardo, 29 of Cleveland, Ohio (left) Tim Stouden, 33, of Upper Saint Clair and Josh Smith, 37 of Fairmont, West Virginia walk to the next hole during a disc golf tournament at Knob Hill Disc Golf Course in Marshall Township Saturday, March 2, 2013 following an announcement that Pittsburgh will host the 2015 PDGA Pro World Championship. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
Bruce McQueen, 57 of Morgantown, West Virginia putts during a disc golf tournament at Knob Hill Disc Golf Course in Marshall Township Saturday, March 2, 2013 following an announcement that Pittsburgh will host the 2015 PDGA Pro World Championship. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
Leroy Jenkins, 59 of Hinckley, Ohio drives during a disc golf tournament at Knob Hill Disc Golf Course in Marshall Township Saturday, March 2, 2013 following an announcement that Pittsburgh will host the 2015 PDGA Pro World Championship. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
Maria Montano, 31 of Beechview walks to the next hole during a disc golf tournament at Knob Hill Disc Golf Course in Marshall Township Saturday, March 2, 2013 following an announcement that Pittsburgh will host the 2015 PDGA Pro World Championship. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review

Maria Montano lugged a vinyl bag filled with 17 flying discs into Knob Hill Park in Marshall on Saturday, anxious to get started on a snowy round of disc golf.

Some discs are used like drivers for distance, while others are like putters, shooting the disc into a metal catcher just like one would tap a ball into a hole on a golf course green,

“I love the challenge of this,” said Montano, 31, of Beechview. “It's so accessible to anyone to just pick up a disc and throw it for the first time.”

Allegheny and Butler county officials Saturday announced that the region will host the 2015 Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships from July 25 through Aug. 1, 2015, event organizers announced at Knob Hill in Marshall Saturday.

Event organizers said they expect about 400 participants, and an economic impact, with hotels, food and other spending, of about $1.5 million. Championship games will be played on golf disc courses at Knob Hill, Deer Lakes Park in Tarentum, Moraine State Park Lakeview in Portersville, and Slippery Rock University.

Aside from those four courses, said J. Gary Dropcho, course superintendent for the Pittsburgh Flying Disc Society, there are five others in the region, including ones in Beaver and Indiana counties. There are nearly 200 Pittsburgh society members locally.

Event organizers noted the region has hosted many large national sporting events in recent years, including the 2006 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and the 2007 U.S. Open in Oakmont.

“It's an inexpensive game to learn to play, and it's a lifetime sport,” said Dropcho, also the championship tournament co-director. “There will be 70-year-olds in the world championship. They may not be able to throw 500 feet, but they are skilled and can make the disc do what they want it to do.”

Disc golf is played just like a round of golf, in which a course has up to 18 holes, and a player has to get the plastic disc into a hole catcher in the fewest throws possible.

Interest in the game has been rising steadily in recent years, even as the Pittsburgh group celebrates its 25th anniversary. He said that in 2011, Moraine State Park officials estimated 30,000 disc golf players used the course there.

Red Whittington, 60, of Shadyside, a three-time world disc golf champion, said the sport is not only a workout for the body, but also the mind.

“For an 18-hole round of disc golf, you're throwing for about three minutes, and the rest of the time (up to 4 hours), you're just waiting. You've got to maintain focus for that burst of explosive energy,” Whittington said.

For additional information about the Pittsburgh Flying Disc Society or the 2015 PDGA Pro Disc Gold World Championships Tournament, go to http://www.pfds.org.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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