Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
June 6, 1997

Computer analyst excels with another kind of disc

by Michelle Johnson

She doesn't stroll the same fairways as Tiger Woods or garner millions in endorsements, but Juliana Bower is a golf champion in her own right -- disc golf, that is.

Bower, a programmer analyst in the Administrative Data Processing Center, has earned numerous local and national titles in the sport and was the 1995 Women's Amateur World Champion. She hopes to compete internationally in Europe and Japan, where the sport also is popular.

Disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf, originated in California in the early 1970s. Similar to golf, a player throws the disc from a tee and counts the number of throws it takes to reach a hole (typically 300 feet). The hole can be a tree, post or an official Disc Pole Hole, which is a metal chain basket with a circular receptacle at the bottom of the basket. To complete a hole, the golfer bounces the disc off the chains into the receptacle. The discs, typically 8 1/2 inches in diameter, may vary in weight and design which enables a player to use different discs for special shots. In an advanced game of disc golf, there is a driver disc, up- shot disc and putter disc.

Disc golf offers Bower an outlet for her competitive drive. Growing up in a town of 1,200, the nearly 6-foot-tall Bower was just expected to play sports -- and she did. She continued playing volleyball and softball at Grinnell College until transferring to the University of Northern Iowa her sophomore year. Her academic course load didn't allow time for sports at the larger university, but she still craved a little competition. Enter disc golf.

"I only wish I would have known about the sport earlier," Bower said. "I love it. I wish more people would play."

Potential competitors may want to think twice about taking on the disc golf champion, whose long arms give her great leverage. Bower has been known to throw the 150-gram disc as far as 365 feet.

Bower often practices throwing on the Clyde Williams Field near State Gym. She and her husband Randy, a temporary instructor in computer science, also travel to local courses to play. Bower tries to compete as often as possible. Last year, that meant traveling to 20 tournaments in nine states.

Disc golf courses are scarce in the Ames area, with the closest ones in Madrid and Ankeny. Bower and her husband recently walked a proposed disc golf course in Ames' Gateway Park. Courses are relatively inexpensive to construct. A top- of-the-line championship course can be constructed for around $12,000, according to Bower.

With the construction of more courses comes more recognition for the sport and a better understanding of the required skills -- such as backhand and forehand throws; trick shots, like rolling a disc on edge; and strategically throwing over and around ponds, lakes, hills and trees. There are skeptics who believe it's just a matter of tossing a Frisbee around.

"I'd be happy to meet them on a course anytime," Bower said.

For additional information on Frisbee golf, visit Bower's World Wide Web site at

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