With the growing popularity of disc golf, signaled by a number of professional tournaments being held around the world, Newton's Mark Reimer and Randy Pauls saw an opportunity.
Both Reimer and Pauls are disc golfers themselves and have gotten their kids involved in the sport as well. Seeing the evolution of disc golf and having their own kids involved, the idea then started to formulate to create a disc golf league for local youth.
"I've been seeing a lot more disc golf courses being established around the state; around the country, for that matter. I think it's a growing sport," Reimer said. "My boys have been playing for about one year and they've just been excited. It's something that they enjoy and I think it's something that kids can benefit from; it gets them to exercise and gets them out of the house."
Starting in late May, that initial idea came to fruition as Reimer and Pauls co-founded the Wheat State Youth Disc Golf Club for kids age 6-16, which meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. weekly on Tuesdays at the disc golf courses in Newton. So far, the club has played the course at Centennial Park and Bethel College (in North Newton) — with the group not yet visiting the more advanced Camp Hawk course.
Currently, Reimer noted the club has about five to 10 members — with mixed levels of experience — who show up on a weekly basis (with summer camps throwing a wrench into regular attendance numbers) and "they love it."
During a normal meeting of the club, Reimer said the group will start with a short clinic on techniques like putting, throwing form, grip, etc. Then, to keep it fun, the club will play out the round on whichever course they are using.
"There's a lot of different things to learn about disc golf, so we kind of try and cover the basics and establish a good foundation so the kids don't get discouraged easily," Reimer said.
Once school starts, while the structure may change, both Reimer and Pauls are hoping to keep the club going — though it may shift to a bi-weekly schedule in the fall.
Getting kids interested in disc golf was set as the initial goal of Pauls and Reimer, though they also said that can be a gateway to getting kids more involved in the community and learning what it has to offer. While the school year will bring a number of other offerings, they are hopeful having the club available may generate a deeper interest for local youth interested in disc golf.
"We'd like for them to get involved just a little bit more," Reimer said, "whether it's playing in tournaments or just fun; get their friends involved."
For more information on the group and where it will meet each week, visit the Wheat State Youth Disc Golf Club page on Facebook or call Reimer at 316-282-0600.