If travel, playing your favorite game and winning sound fun, then take a look at the life of Dakota Benton, a disc golf champion.
Benton is 14 years old and attends the 8th grade at Sevier Middle. He has also been playing disc golf for six years.
Disc golf is an unknown sport and not many people play it. It combines golf and frisbee. Players toss discs into metal baskets throughout a course.
For six years, his dad has been practicing with him and has helped him to become successful.
“My dad got me started with disc golf,” Benton said. “He always took me out to play.”
It takes a lot of hard work and a variety of skills to become a successful disc golf player.
“You need a lot of practice and to play in lots of events,” Benton said. “It takes arm speed, working well with distance, and knowing your angles.”
His practice has made a champion out of him, with Benton winning five straight “Fun Fest” events.
But the game is not without setbacks, even for a champion. Sometimes, even Benton gets frustrated playing the game. When is it most frustrating?
“It has to be when you have a bad shot, but you can always bounce back on the next play,” he said.
Still, Benton enjoys disc golf a great deal.
“The most rewarding part of being a disc golf player is when you win Pro Worlds,” Benton said.
Pro Worlds is an international disc golf championship that is a big deal to disc golf players and fans.
At this stage in his disc golf career, Dakota is still pretty independent.
“I’m not part of a team as of right now,” he said. “The closest thing I have to a coach is my dad. He is always there when I tour.”
In 2019, Benton, who participates in the Professional Disc Golf Association at the intermediate level, competed in 7 tournaments in the Tri-Citites area. He placed first in the Return to Whitetail Ridge Tournament, and second in both the Discmania Game of Throws: Battle at Warriors Path and The Appalachian Amateur Championship.
Disc courses are on the grass, in the woods, even beaches. As Benton travels to different places he plays a variety of courses.
Different settings affect the players’ performance creating different levels of challenge.
“Wooded courses are really the most challenging,” he said.
This challenge makes wooded courses his favorite type of course. He enjoys a challenge.
An important factor of disc golf is what disc you are using. Different parts of a course require different discs. The differences between the disc is just the size and weight.
“They have different weights,” Benton said. “Either way, you really have to know your angles.”
Disc golf is not a school sport and there is not a league in Kingsport. Benton believes that should change
“It should become popular around the world,” he said.
Benton also has some advice for students who are interested in playing disc golf.
“Start out with the right disc and start at a bigger course,” he said.