Griffis wins disc golf tournament |

Griffis wins disc golf tournament

Arren Griffis had a plan going into the final nine holes: “Playing smart, shooting for par and letting them come to me.”

It was a winning strategy capped off with a dramatic flourish, a 75-foot birdie putt that earned him first place at the Tahoe Daily Tribune Disc Golf Tournament on Sunday. Griffis, 21, of Grass Valley joined more than 112 amateur golfers at the Bijou Community Park for the two-day event. The tournament continues Saturday and Sunday, featuring top pros from around the country.

The Grass Valley contingent was in force this weekend. Jason Herm, 22, tied for third place after suffering a double-bogey on hole 10, a tree-pocked nightmare that often echoes with the sound of plastic hitting bark.

The competition and the anxious crowd left Herm rattled, but he was still satisfied with his finish. “I had fun, except for the choking part,” he said.

Jeff Fillinger, 34, of Truckee entered the finals in first place but had to settle for second.

“I knew we were going to battle the whole way,” Fillinger said. “You go out with your buddies and you can make a million birdies, but you get to a tourney and the pressure kicks in.”

Part of that pressure can be found in the dynamics of disc golf, where metal clubs and little white balls are nowhere to be found. Instead, players toss their discs toward wire baskets suspended from poles draped in metal chains. You can hear a good shot even if you can’t see past the trees, as a satisfying “clang” rings through the forest.

Ian Iverson, 28, of Fremont described the 27-hole course as “long and beautiful.”

“Every hole you have a chance,” said Iverson, who pulled out second place with an even par in the second-tier amateur division. “Just toss it through the trees and make something happen.”

Things definitely happen on the Bijou course, and not all of them are good.

“A couple mistakes one way and some positive strokes another way (and) you can definitely make some progress on your competitors,” said Quantreal Nixon, 30, of Sacramento.

Case in point: On the 16th hole, finalist Bill Kohler sent a wind-swept drive nearly 500 feet off the pin, drawing wild applause from the gallery.

But he fudged his last putt of the day, a mistake that prevented him from finishing alone in third place and left him kicking his disc bag in frustration.

Far from gloating over their success, the winners gathered around and congratulated Kohler on a good try. It’s the sort of cameraderie that comes from slinging plastic in the woods.

“It’s competitive, but it’s friendly competitive,” Kohler said.

South Lake Tahoe players scored some victories of their own. Joy Williams, 35, took the women’s division, while 28-year-old Chris Robbins won the putting contest.

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