Iowa’s disc golf scene, as told by Kyle Schultz11/1/2023
The disc golf community has seen steady growth across the country and especially in Des Moines. According to the PDGA’s (Pro Disc Golf Association) 2022 demographic report, 300 courses are listed in Iowa with 1,771 members. One of those members is local disc golfer Kyle Schultz.
Schultz’s father was able to work with “Steady Ed Hendrick,” the founder of disc golf, in 1978 to meet, design and build Iowa’s first disc golf course in Tourist Park in Cedar Falls. Not only was this the first course in Iowa, it was the third established course in the country.
“It was a very short course because the discs they used in 1978 didn’t fly that far, so the holes weren’t very long because the plastic was a lot different back then,” said Schultz.
Naturally, this gave Schultz an easy path onto the course and into the sport.
“Since my dad got the first disc golf course put together, I had no choice but to be a disc golfer growing up. I was at the course all the time, from being in the stroller, walking, walking the dog. I started playing when I was 3 years old in 1987 and won my first tournament when I was 5,” said Schultz.
Imagine a hike… with a game. This is what the disc golf experience is like. Eighteen-hole courses can be anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 feet long. You can walk through long, open courses or traverse through heavily wooded courses with ups and downs. Either way, great exercise is sure to follow.
“Disc golf can be such a positive aspect in your life when it comes to your physical and mental health. You can walk. You can jog. You’re getting fresh air. You’re getting sunshine. Everyone at the course seems to always be in a good mood because it’s just a game, and everyone is here to have fun,” said Schultz.
There are more than 20 disc golf courses in the Des Moines area, the majority of which are open to the public, with varying degrees of difficulty. Schultz has a few favorites.
“Walnut Ridge, because of its rolling hills and technical shots that it requires. I also enjoy Big Creek because that’s been my home course since I was 16. It’s been awesome to help with course work there for over 20 years. I also love Ewing Park on the south side; that’s got some big, wide-open fairways,” said Schultz.
One of Schultz’s favorite memories happened at Ewing Park, which could explain some of his affection for the course. He had a hole-in-one from the short pad on hole 10, a 458-foot shot that several of his friends were able to witness with him on a Labor Day weekend.
Another one of his favorite memories came in 2004 helping the DMMDGC (Des Moines Metro Disc Golf Club) run the Disc Golf World Championship.
“I helped run the long-distance throw competition with a few of my friends. We saw some of the best players in the world throw 700 feet,” said Schultz.
The disc golf community in Des Moines has continued to steadily grow with the sport’s rise in national popularity in recent years. Schultz has been involved with the capital’s disc crowd for two decades.
“I joined the Des Moines Disc Golf Club in 2003. The club has grown so much. We have over 150 active members per season in our league. We’re one of the biggest clubs in the whole country,” said Schultz.
Above all else, Schultz enjoys this hobby for how it helps bring people together.
“To me, disc golf is all about the camaraderie. The people. The passion. You could be playing next to a massage therapist, a janitor or a police officer. This sport is for anybody and everybody,” said Schultz.
Like his father before him, Schultz has been able to pass down his love for the sport to his son.
“He’s gearing up to compete in Junior Worlds in Tulsa. We’ve got a lot of practicing to do, but he really loves this sport. It’s nice to watch his eyes get big when he sees he’s progressing in the game,” said Schultz. ♦