While the sound of carnival rides played outside Tuesday, inside the Jaycee Exhibit Hall at the Cole County Fairgrounds, the sounds were more rhythmic.
As competitors in the disc golf putting tournament took their turns, one by one, all that could be heard was the steady hum of a fan, the soft step of a foot lining up and the clang of chains as the discs hit the baskets.
Derred Scheperle, organizer of the tournament and officer for the Jefferson City Disc Golf Club, said this is the first year he’s put together such a competition for the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair.
Five people came out to participate in the first-year tournament. Despite the small number of competitors, the competition was good-natured, but fierce. Many of those who came out were regular players, and could sink nearly every shot within 30 feet.
“These are some of the best putters in Jefferson City,” Scheperle said.
Through three rounds of head-to-head competition, players drained putt after putt.
In the end, the scores were still close: 74, 72, 67, 64 and 62.
Eric Henley took first place, followed by Cory Riley and Mitchell Lister.
Those who came got a $5 gift card to the local shop carrying disc golf supplies and a small disc golf clipboard to keep score. Many of the prizes were donated by Xtreme Trendz at the Jefferson City mall.
Scheperle was first introduced to the sport by his friend, Shawn Crowe, 12 years ago. While Scheperle didn’t really get into the sport at the time, he tried it again when he moved to California. After sinking a 250-foot shot, Scheperle said he was “addicted.” It also gave him a chance to get some exercise and get outside.
Scheperle said he enjoys playing a variety of courses — the Joseph C. Miller course at Binder Park, the Cole County Park course, Fulton’s course and several in Columbia. He is also involved in a traveling league and is sponsored by Black Ink Discs, which offers a tournament to play in.
Chris Neff, president of the Jefferson City Disc Golf Club, came out to compete. He said he typically plays two or three times a week during the summer. Neff was also introduced to disc golf by Crowe.
Crowe has since passed away, but Scheperle said he leaves a legacy of many people who fell in love with the sport of disc golf.
“He kept saying, ‘Come to league, come to league,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not good enough.’ He goes, ‘It doesn’t matter. Just come,'” Neff said.
The disc golf club offers lots of opportunities for people to play, and even plays in the winter with putting competitions.
Scheperle said he hopes to see more participate in the future, though the sport as a whole has grown tremendously during the pandemic as one of the few isolated sports people could play.
“We’ve really been trying to spread the word to get juniors and more women into the sport,” Scheperle said. “Belair Elementary School put in a six-hole disc golf course and our disc golf club helped put that in.”