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Mineral Area Disc (MAD) Golf held their first annual MAD Golf Open on Saturday at Engler Park.

The club ended up filling their roster with 72 participants from at least five different states including Florida and Alabama.

The local disc golf community has continued to grow over the years currently having five area courses. Those courses are located at Engler Park in Farmington, Columbia Park in Park Hills, Mineral Area College, Bonne Terre Park and Potosi City Park. 

Jon Kekec has been playing disc golf for 12 years and came to the MAD Golf Open to support his wife Sondra who was competing. He said he has watched the sport grow in Farmington and likes to see it being taken seriously by the media and others.

"You see more manufacturers, you see the sport growing on television," Jon said. "The sport offers an escape, it's a relaxation. We can look around right now and see nature chirping at us and visit different parks."

Jon said when he travels with Sondra and their children they pack their disc golf gear and visit different parks around the nation.

"When you run into disc golf people, I know it's a cliche but it's a family," Jon said. "I don't know any of those guys but we have a connection because we love this sport and we know what it's like to see the disc fly through the air."

Sondra said as a mom it is really fun to play disc golf with her kids but it is also an escape for her to go be by herself and be with nature. She said it's better than therapy.

"The women's community here is small but it's growing and the men are really supportive of the women playing," Sondra said. "So if you come out and play doubles league here there are no guys who are going to be 'great I got the new girl.' They are all really nice and they will help you or they will keep their mouth shut if you want them to. It's a lot of fun."

Assistant Tournament Director Dave Koester said MAD Golf is more than just individual players. 

"We are MAD Golf," Koester said. "Our mission is to be active in the community. We are not for profit. All the money goes back to the players through tournaments like this, merchandise, as well as giving back to the community."

MAD Golf participates in the highway cleanup program, financial donations and is looking for opportunities to give to the community through service and finances. 

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"We are a passionate group that loves our sport and our community," Koester said. "A popular saying among the players now is 'take care of your course.' In other words, respect the parks you play in, respect the players and respect the communities."

Koester said he has made some of his closest friendships playing disc golf.

The tournament offered a full day of play for participants with two rounds of competition along with a bonus game of gorilla golf for some of the winners.

Tournament Director Terry Wood described gorilla golf as a unique game which mixes up the course and has competitors starting from the beginning of one hole but aiming for a different hole's basket. He said each hole had a $75 prize.

Other awards for the day included cash for professionals, merchandise vouchers for amateur players, a basket for 1st place AM and a backpack for 1st place female. 

The day may have been a competition but win or lose everyone left feeling like a winner.

Competitor Amanda Thompson said disc golf made her love herself and it has taught her to be happy with progress over being perfect. She said she may not be at the same level as some of the others but you have to love yourself during the growth.

Sponsors included All 1's Golf, Terry and Erika Wood Family, Domino's Pizza, SEMO Disc Golf, Smokin Aces, Broward Disc Golf of South Florida, Schnapp Law Firm, Cici’s Pizza, Allison Kennon of Edward Jones, Sun Loan Company, and Red’s Street Food and Catering.

"We would also like to thank all of the local city parks departments for their help in keeping our courses nice," Koester said. "Also a special thank you to some of our local members who were nice enough to come out and help prepare the course for the tournament."

Koester said MAD Golf welcomes players of all ages and skill level to come out and join the sport.

"Please search the MAD Golf Facebook page for info on league events as well as to ask questions," Koester said. "You will always find several players happy to assist and teach you."

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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