BHSU professor behind disc golf growth at University and state level

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, September 17, 2014/Categories: 2014

           Don Altmyer, professor of accounting at BHSU and disc golf world champion, plays disc golf on campus. The Swarm Days Disc Golf Tournament is on Friday. The student competition is at 3 p.m. and the community tournament is at 5 p.m.

Black Hills State University and Spearfish will host two disc golf tournaments this month, the annual Swarm Day tournament and the state championship tournament. The sport, which has grown immensely in the state over the years, got its South Dakota start with BHSU professor and world disc golf champion, Don Altmyer.

Altmyer, professor of accounting at BHSU, organized both the Swarm Days Disc Golf Tournament and the South Dakota Disc Golf Championships.

The Swarm Days Disc Golf Tournament is at 3 p.m. Friday at the BHSU disc golf course. Walk-up registration for the students-only tournament is at 2:30 p.m. The tournament is free to all students with a Buzz Card. The community tournament will begin at 5 p.m. and is $10 per person. Registration is at 4:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to top scores.

Spearfish will host the South Dakota Disc Golf Championships Sept. 27-28 at the Spearfish Canyon Disc Golf Course. Registration is $50 and closes on Sept 26. For more information on the tournament and to register, go to

Altmyer said disc golf&rsquos popularity keeps growing, coining it the sport of the future. Altmyer brought his passion and expertise of disc golf to the community by implementing two disc golf courses and organizing the Spearfish Disc Golf Association.

A Pennsylvania native, Altmyer first heard of disc golf in the early &lsquo80s after he moved to Southern California. He immediately fell in love with the game, which is a combination of Frisbee and golf. Competitors use a heavier disc that is similar to a Frisbee and attempt to land the disc in a chain link basket. The overall goal is to navigate the course from beginning to end with the fewest number of throws possible.

Since first playing 1983, Altmyer has won the Amateur Disc Golf Tournament in the Masters Division in 2005 in Arizona, becoming the first amateur disc golf world champion in South Dakota.

When Altmyer was offered a job at BHSU in 1995, he said his first thought was the campus was perfect for a disc golf course.

"I mapped out the first nine holes on my flight home on an airline napkin," he said.

The first disc golf course at BHSU was installed in later that year. At the time wooden lamp posts wrapped in floor and ceiling tape were used in place of official baskets.

That same year Altmyer wrote an article called "Disc Golf Fever: Will Your Park Catch It" for national publication Parks &amp Recreation. The article caught the attention of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) in California. They offered BHSU the opportunity to be the first recipient of the PDGA College Matching Basket Grant Program, which aided in the purchase of new disc golf baskets. The baskets replaced the wooden lamp posts in 1997.

BHSU&rsquos new, 18-hole disc golf course was the only 18-hole course in the state at that time. Now there are more than 40 courses in the state, Altmyer said.

The original, 17-year-old baskets were replaced this year. Currently there are only 14 holes on campus. The remaining baskets will be installed after the completion of Crow Peak Hall. In addition to the new baskets, each tee off point will have a new sign with a GPS photo of the hole and a BHSU point of pride.

"There are many reasons students want to come to BHSU," Altmyer said. "Whether it&rsquos the outdoor activities, academic programs or the types of jobs available after graduation we want to hammer home those messages on each tee sign."

Altmyer said students enjoy using the disc golf course for three simple reasons.

"It&rsquos fast, free and fun," Altmyer said. "There are low equipment costs, no green fees and you can just play with your buddies."

Brian Jones, general studies major from Spearfish, said the BHSU disc golf course is beginner friendly, making it easy for anyone to play.

"Throughout my college career I have planned my courses so I could play a round of disc golf in between classes," Jones said. "The course is beautiful. It&rsquos a great way to meet new people to exercise as well."

He added that the new baskets and tee pads installed this year have drawn new fans of disc golf on campus.

Discs are available at the BHSU bookstore. Altmyer said they are about $10 a piece, making it an affordable pastime for students.

The BHSU course is considered a beginner&rsquos course, and in 2011 Altmyer said the community wanted a more challenging disc golf course. He and other community members formed the Spearfish Disc Golf Association and through a partnership with the City of Spearfish, the Spearfish Canyon Disc Golf Course was created. The 27-hole course includes elevation changes, hills and streams &ndash all elements that make the sport fun, Altmyer said.

"It&rsquos a killer," Altmyer said. "It takes you almost three hours and three miles of walking. You get a great aerobic exercise."

Spearfish&rsquos disc golf course is the only 27-hole course in the state.

Altmyer will share his knowledge and love of disc golf through a presentation at the South Dakota Parks and Recreation State Conference, which is also held this month in Spearfish.

For a map of BHSU&rsquos disc golf course, go to

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