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Recreation: Shattuck sets course for nationals
By ADAM HIMMELSBACH
There aren’t many sports that allow you to take a 24-year hiatus, then return even better than you were before.
But that’s sort of what happened to Fredericksburg resident Jeff Shattuck.
In 1977, when Shattuck was a student at the University of Tampa, he was introduced to disc golf.
For those who don’t know what disc golf is, don’t worry. Back then, Shattuck didn’t know, either.
But that, disc golf enthusiasts will tell you, is one of the beauties of this largely unknown sport.
It’s easy to pick up, yet difficult to put down.
The sport is very much like golf, in that there are vast 18-hole courses, and low scores are better than high scores. The only real difference is you use a Frisbee-like disc instead of golf clubs and a golf ball.
After college, Shattuck did step away from the sport, presumably to move on to being an adult and doing more adult things. But in 2001, a friend told him about the quaint course at Loriella Park.
“I played a round,” Shattuck said, “and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Next week, Shattuck will travel to Charlotte, N.C., to compete in the World Disc Golfing Championships.
Shattuck, 52, will compete in the Grandmasters division.
He will be joined by at least two Fredericksburg-area residents—Bob Cannon, who will compete in the Masters division, and teenager Austin Pfaff, who will be in the Amateur division.
In all, more than 1,110 players are expected to take part in this event, which will unfold on 14 courses over five days.
Shattuck is ranked among the top 40 in the world in his age group.
“Thankfully, I’m in the double-old-geezer division,” he said with a chuckle.
When he returned to the sport 11 years ago, he was struck by how much it had changed.
In the 1970s, players used one, maybe two discs. They were sometimes wobbly or uneven, and they were easily swept up by wind.
As the sport evolved, players began using drivers, putters and mid-range discs.
“Discs today are totally different than they used to be,” Shattuck said. “They’re so much more aerodynamic.”
Today, Shattuck carries up to 16 discs in his bag. Aside from the basics—long shots, short shots—there are discs for more unusual angles and situations.
For example, in a densely wooded area, a player might throw a tomahawk-style overhand shot to escape trouble.
Some players throw “rollers,” in which the disc is whipped toward the ground with such spin and force that it literally dances across the grass like a squirrel.
And putters generally have more of a blunt edge, making them the most stable discs of all.
Shattuck usually uses five or six of the discs that he packs, but he prefers to be prepared.
He began competing in tournaments in 2005, and this will be his fourth appearance at the world championships.
He practices on local courses at Loriella and Pratt parks several times a week and sometimes visits a private course on Lake Anna.
Over the past year, he has played in tournaments in Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis, Wisconsin, Michigan and Virginia Beach.
And next week he will head to Charlotte for the biggest tournament of all. Shattuck envisions a day when that tournament could be held here.
The Spotsylvania Disc Golf Club, which meets every Thursday night at Loriella Park, is steadily growing.
Shattuck said a few more courses would need to be configured in the area, and putting together a disc golf course is far easier than crafting a regular golf course.
“I really think we’ve got the kind of location that would support it,” Shattuck said. “It would be great.”
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442