This ran in Today's North County Times nespaper...
COMMUNITY SPORTS: Risleys trip out over disc golf
By MATT NULL - Staff Writer | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 7:24 PM PDT
SAN MARCOS ---- Each summer over the past four years, Allen Risley and his son, A.J., have gone on road trips.
But they haven't exactly gone on more traditional trips like viewing professional baseball games or following their favorite NASCAR driver around from track to track. Instead, they drove around the United States playing the sport they both love: disc golf.
"We just decided to go out and have some fun," said Allen Risley, who has now visited more than 75 different disc golf courses across America with his son. "And we did nothing but play disc golf."
Disc golf is very similar to regular golf, in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target. Disc golf also uses much of the same rules and terminology.
The two San Marcos residents will continue their disc golf obsession on Saturday when they compete in the fourth annual Emerald Isle's Emerald Isle Open in Oceanside.
The event will have sold-out field of 110 competitors in 13 different divisions. Allen, 46, will be competing in the Advanced Masters class, while A.J., 16, will be competing in the Intermediate division.
Both participated last year with Allen placing third and A.J. finishing second. Both want to improve on that showing.
"Emerald Isle Golf Course is my home course and that's where I started playing," said A.J. Risley, a junior at Mission Hills High. "And if I can get first place, it just shows people that I know the course real well and I'm good enough to be first place."
If it wasn't for Allen Risley's background with disc golf, A.J. likely would have never picked up the sport. Like many who play disc golf, Allen picked up the game in his youth and continued to play the sport throughout his college days at Florida State.
"When I was a senior in high school, the town next to us opened up a disc golf course, so a bunch of us got involved playing there," Allen said. "And after that, I really just got bit by the bug."
After a short break to raise a family, Allen Risley picked up the game again four years ago at the urging of A.J. That's because in the families' backyard was an old basket that Allen had won at a previous tournament. In his spare time, A.J. slowly picked up the game and started to become interested.
"He really was getting interested and it just kind of rekindled my interest," Allen said. "Plus, it was just another way he and I could spend more time together. Of course it was very welcome."
While on their trips, the two visit as many disc golf courses as possible, and compete against each other. Despite obvious age and experience advantages Allen has on his son, A.J. has won numerous times against his father.
"Between us, it is tight competition," A.J. Risley said. "We are both about the same skill level, so it goes back and forth.
"We have a lot of fun and it's a fun challenge. To me, it's funny when I beat him because he has played a lot more than I have."
All that extra playing has helped Allen in most tournaments. But the sport isn't throwing the old Frisbee around like it used to be. Allen has seen the sport grow from the plastic device once used, to specialized discs for putting, long distance and mid-range distance.
"When I started playing as a kid, that's what we did." said Allen, referring to the Frisbee. "But like all sports, it evolved. The discs we use now are heavier then before and now we have smaller and more aerodynamic discs."
The two often play on Monday and Tuesday nights at the newly opened Montiel Park Disc Golf Course in San Marcos. Allen played a large role in getting the new course set up.
"I wanted a course that would be good for kids and families," Allen said. "We didn't want to rig the course or challenge beginners, because that would just turn people away from the game. So far there have been a lot of families and kids at the park and we are really pretty happy with that."
Contact staff writer Matt Null at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at sports.nctimes.com.