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by Mark Cheffey
Palmyra’s disc golf courses have been a big draw to the sports’ enthusiasts from all around the country.
Now, the sport is getting local players interested in seeking success abroad.
A case in point is Jacob Barnes, a Palmyra teen who recently performed well at a junior world disc golf tournament, boosting his aspirations toward becoming a professional.
Barnes tied for 14th place out of 119 competitors in his age division at the Professional Disc Golf Tournament, June 27-July 1 in Peoria, Ill.
The high finish resulted from hours and hours of practice here at the home courses, others in the area and competitions around the region, and bolstered his enthusiasm for the sport.
“The experience at junior worlds was great,” said Barnes, who competed in five rounds on various courses at Peoria. “I got to compete against people my age from all over the world. I got to see how good I was against other people around the world rather than just the Tri-States.”
Barnes opened tournament play Tuesday, June 27, by carding a nine-under-par round at Sunset Hills to put him in third place.
A five-under-par second round on the lead card at McNaughton Park left him in fourth place.
Play was suspended Wednesday due to poor air quality, but resumed Thursday at Lake Eureka, and Barnes scored a six-under to be tied for ninth.
The next day he went four-under and tied for 10th place and qualifying him for Saturday’s final round at Lake Eureka where he went four under and finish tied for 14th.
Barnes is part of a growing community of active disc golfers who enjoy hitting the courses together while doing their part to enhance the local courses.
“The Palmyra Flying Disc Club is growing and getting a lot more people,” Barnes said. “Two nights a week we have league, where we trade our tags which is our ranking system.
“We also have work days to help clean up the course or make new holes. Then we put on a clinic every year for younger kids who want to try disc golf out and give them some tips.”
Like with any sport, practicing is the best way to get better, and Barnes is devoted to it.
“I usually play two to three rounds a week. Sometimes I will get a net out and throw into that at my house or get my basket out and putt. I try not to overplay but keep it to where I’m getting better every day.”
His improvement led to competing in tournaments such as the Ledgestone Disc Golf Tournament in Peoria the past two years as well as tournaments here in town, the Flower City Open and in Quincy (Quincy Open) and Hannibal (Don Crane Memorial Disc Golf Tourney, Ice Bowl, etc.).
It then culminated in him qualifying for the junior worlds.
“I think my success comes from all the hours of practice.” Barnes said. “Also the competition at our league and casual rounds. The pressure during those rounds helps so when I get in tournaments I’ve felt that pressure before and know how to handle it.
“I enjoy it because it’s another way of competing which I love doing. I get to get outside, enjoy the outdoors, talk with friends, compete and try to come out on top every time.”
And, while he enjoys the fun of the game, Barnes also hopes it leads to bigger success.
“My goal is to eventually be pro,” he said. “I think that would be great to travel the world and play the sport you love.
“There’s also the business side of disc golf too which is great because that’s what I’m going to college for so it’ll be good.”