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Kanawha Valley disc golf tournament reflects sport’s growing popularity

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
File photo
Colin Crowder of Hurricane gets in a practice shot at the putting green at the Eleanor disc golf course.
BEN CALWELL | Metro Steve Koepsel in the disc golf pro shop at Redeemer Lutheran Church off Corridor G, Charleston. Koepsel is the main organizer of the third annual Kanawha Valley Regional Disc Golf Tournament, which will be played on three area disc golf courses June 12-18. The tournament is open to amateurs and professionals. To register, or for more information, visit
The pro shop at Redeemer Lutheran Church is stocked with a wide assortment of golf discs ranging in price from $9 to $20.
The 18-hole disc golf course at Redeemer Lutheran Church is about five years old. It is one of three area courses, where the third annual Kanawha Valley Regional Disc Golf Tournament will be played next weekend, June 17-18. There are a number of lead-in events during the week, as well.
File photo Sam Crowder of Hurricane throws the disc at the fifth hole at the new disc golf course in Eleanor last fall.

Amateur and professional disc golf players from around the region will converge on the Kanawha Valley next week for the third annual Kanawha Valley Regional Disc Golf Tournament.

The main sponsors are LifeTite Metal Products LLC, Innova Champion Discs and the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau. The week-long tournament will be held at three different disc golf courses in the area: Redeemer Lutheran Church in Charleston, St. Albans City Park and Dunbar Wine Celler Park, Dunbar.

Main organizer Steve Koepsel of Elkview said the tournament is an “A-Tier” event for players in multiple divisions, including Open, Advanced, Advanced Grandmaster, Intermediate, Recreational, Novice, Junior Boys and Recreational Women.

To register, visit

Disc golf is like regular golf, but instead of using golf clubs, players throw specially-designed discs at the holes, or in this case, baskets.

“The big tournament is on Saturday and Sunday (June 17-18),” Koepsel said, adding that to be an A-Tier event, it has to be a two-day tournament.

However, in the days leading up to the main tournament, there are special disc golf events at the three area courses and other locations.

“We went the whole week with lead-in events,” he said.

The lead-in events, in which competitors have choices of free discs from the Disc Golf Association, kick off on Monday, June 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Travel America truck stop off Interstate 64, Hurricane. “It’s called ‘Birdie or Bust,’” he said.

On Tuesday, June 13, at 6 p.m., there will be “Dynamic Doubles” at the disc golf course at Eleanor in Putnam County.

“They’ve got a brand new (disc golf) park out there.”

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 14-16, the lead-in events return to the disc golf course at Redeemer Lutheran Church, which is off Corridor G, Charleston.

“We’ll have little lead-in tournaments,” Koepsel said.

Then, on Friday evening, June 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. there will be a get-together at the Holiday Inn Express Civic Center in Charleston.

“It’s just for fun -- beer, food, soda and mini-contests. We’ll have a good time.”

Koepsel said anyone can play in the tournament. The cost is $30 for players 18 and younger; for beginners and intermediates, the entry fee is $50 and if you’re a professional disc golf player with the PDGA, the cost is $85.

Three-time World Disc Golf champion Johnny Sias of Lavalette will be in the tournament.

The main Saturday and Sunday tournament will be played at the three disc golf courses -- Redeemer Lutheran, St. Albans City Park and Dunbar Wine Cellar Park.

“On Saturday, all the players will check in here at the church. We’ll have a meeting and go over the rules.”

So far, at press time, 95 players were registered.

“Our target is 144; I think we’ll max out at 144 players -- that’s 72 per course,” Koepsel said.

Koepsel has helped to spearhead many of the disc golf courses in the Kanawha Valley. At Redeemer Lutheran, he has a disc golf pro shop, filled with colorful discs and accessories used in the game.

“We’ve got over 5,000 discs in here.”

There are discs designed to fly in certain ways according to where the “hole” is on the course. Discs are named to correspond with their golf club counterparts, such as drivers and putters.

Some discs fly straight, while others are aerodynamically designed to go right or left.

“Every disc is different, but you’ve still got the human factor,” he said.

Discs range is price from $9 to $20. And it doesn’t cost anything to play at the area disc golf courses.

“As long as you have your discs, you can play. Saturday and Sunday, this place was packed,” Koepsel said, referring to the Redeemer Lutheran course.

To register for the tournament and for more detailed information, visit


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