Student aces competition in disc golf

WCU student Ryan Kastle (left) is congratulated by Chancellor David O. Belcher after Kastle’s win in the Belcher Open Disc Golf Tournament.

A Western Carolina University student dazzled the collegiate disc golf world recently when he recorded three aces – the equivalent of three holes-in-one in golf – during qualifying rounds at the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship played at North Augusta, S.C.

Ryan Kastle, a freshman geology major from Waynesville, hit the aces as he and his three teammates on the WCU disc golf team battled four other college teams on Wednesday, April 11, for the right to advance to the 40-team championship rounds. During the first qualifying round, Kastle hit aces on holes 14 and 19 of the course. His third ace came on hole 9 of the second qualifying round.

Kastle and his teammates recorded the top score in the qualifying rounds and advanced to the April 12-14 championship rounds, where they came in 35th place. Other team members are Marcus Kinsman, a senior entrepreneurship major from Jacksonville; Marshall Cannon, a junior engineering technology major from Charlotte; and Adam Canipe, a senior criminal justice major from Hickory.

Disc golf is a sport similar to regular golf except that players throw flying discs at baskets or targets. Chris Tuten, an instructor in WCU’s School of Teaching and Learning, said the fact that Kastle hit three aces is “highly unusual.”

“I have never heard of anyone getting three aces in two competitive rounds and I have played (disc golf) for many years,” he said.

The website WIKIBOOKS indicates that “an ace in disc golf is fairly rare and much praise is given to those who have accomplished this spectacular feat.”

Kastle also was the male champion during the Belcher Open Disc Golf Tournament, which was played recently on campus as part of activities held to celebrate the installation of WCU’s new chancellor, David O. Belcher.

Disc golf is a club sport at WCU and the university maintains a 13-hole course, Catamount Links, on campus. Justin Menickelli, associate professor in the School of Teaching and Learning and the disc golf team’s faculty adviser, said an average of 200 WCU students and faculty and staff members play the campus course each week.