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Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014

Throw Milwaukee Brings Winter Disc Golf to Estabrook

throw milwaukee snow throw winter disc golf
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Believe it or not, winter will eventually come to an end. Birds will return, days will grow incrementally longer, and that small parcel of land between the sidewalk and street will no longer be a growing mountain of snow. Soon, the prospect of outdoor recreation will become a reality. For up to 100 people at Estabrook Park, that reality will come early, as Throw Milwaukee’s second annual “Snow Throw” will pit disc golf enthusiasts against the elements the morning of March 1 for the sake of their pastime and The Hunger Task Force.

“Actually, disc golfers really like to play in the winter,” said Throw Milwaukee founder Dave Haecker. “Us hardcore disc golfers, we go out all year around. We knew a lot of people would want to come out and play a winter tournament.”

While living in Stevens Point in the early 2000s, Haecker competed in winter disc golf tournaments as a member of “Ace Holes.”

“We all live in Milwaukee now, so last year we had the idea to pair up with the Hunger Task Force and do a good cause tournament that really caters to the players and gives back to community,” he said.

Last year, the inaugural “Snow Throw” brought 67 competitors from all corners of Wisconsin—and a few out of state disc golfers—along with a bounty of non-perishable food donations to the park. It also spawned an autumnal edition of the benefit tournament (the “Glow Throw”) last October, wherein 100 competitors played after dark with the help of glow sticks.

Throw Milwaukee member Tabatha Lewinski participated in both events and helped put together this year’s festivities.

“We’ve just been playing a lot of leagues and we really like the park where we’re playing,” Lewinski said. “We just decided to team up with the Hunger Task Force and do something for fun to get out of the house in winter and donate food for the hungry in Milwaukee.”

In addition to paying a registration fee, tournament participants are required to bring a minimum of three non-perishable food items, with a special emphasis on peanut butter.

“It’s kind of co-existing with [Hunger Task Force’s] peanut butter drive that’s happening right now,” Haecker said. “It has a lot of calories, carbohydrates and protein that people need, and it all helps out families here in Milwaukee.”

Non-competitors are also encouraged to bring items to the food drive the morning of the tournament.

Besides the charitable benefit the Snow Throw brings, the event gives people of either sex, almost any age and all skill levels any opportunity to compete in one of four divisions: “Ladies,” “Old-Timers” (ages 50 and up), “Regular Joes” (recreational) and “Studs” (tournament-level talent). Most participants are in the Ladies and Regular Joes division.

“There’s a lot of people that usually only play in the summer, just casual players that play every once in a while,” Lewinski said. “In the Old-Timers division, we even have people up into their sixties playing. At last year’s Glow Throw we had a 14-year-old play. So we really have people from all different backgrounds that are interested in the sport.”

At this point approximately 65 players have registered to take part in the second annual Snow Throw benefit tourney—no matter the conditions. Early registration has concluded, but participants can register on site at the Estabrook Park disc golf course the morning of March 1 until the 100-player cap is reached. However, day-of registration does not come with the hooded sweatshirt and disc that were initially offered. Still, a pre-tournament breakfast will be available, as well as a certificate for a complimentary slice of Ian’s pizza.

Discing has its fair share of benefits, as Lewinski attests. “It’s a cheap sport—I mean, around here, at least. You pretty much just have to buy a disc and it’s free to play any time you want while getting out in nature.”

Emphasis on “any time” for the passionate and generous folks making the chains affixed to baskets jingle (along with the whipping late winter wind).

“You don’t have the bugs to worry about, and in the summer you can only take off so many clothes,” Haecker said. “In the winter, you can just put on another layer.”