by Vicki Ikeogu
The colder the better.
Because for Sauk Rapids resident Cody Parsons, it’s not truly an Ice Bowl tournament unless the mercury in the thermometer dips below zero.
And on Saturday, Jan. 13, it did just that.
With temps around seven below zero, about 80 avid disc golfers from around the area – including a man who made the trek from Missouri – threw on some extra layers, ripped open a few packets of hand warmers and downed some piping hot coffee as they made their way around St. Joseph’s Millstream Park for the 26th annual St. Cloud Ice Bowl.
“I mean, disc golfers, they play all year round,” Parsons said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 40 below with the wind chill, they are still out throwing.”
Parsons has been disc golfing around Central Minnesota for more than a decade and has competed on the professional stage for the last several years.
But for the past four years, the Sauk Rapids resident has been kicking off the new year by coordinating the Ice Bowl tournament – a disc golfing fundraiser for the St. Joseph Food Shelf.
“The Ice Bowl, I think, is a way for everybody to help give back to the local community,” Parsons said. “Granted a lot of the players aren’t from the area, but they come up and help donate. But I think it’s just the sense you are giving back to a community. And St. Joseph has been a great community when it comes to disc golf. They are very supportive of the sport.”
Disc golf is very similar to traditional golf. But instead of using clubs and golf balls, players use specially designed discs.
“Instead of swinging a club and hitting a ball, you are using your body as the momentum to transfer the energy to the disc,” Parsons said.
Each basket, like the holes in regular golf, has a certain number of attempts players have in order to come in at par or under.
This year the disc golf tournament was a 21-hole course. Parsons said the entire event starts with a players’ meeting at 10:30 a.m. with the first discs being thrown around 11 a.m. The typical tournament takes about three hours.
The winners in various categories – open professional, master professional, grand master professional, advanced, amateur and women’s disc golfer – get to take home trophies and bragging rights. But the true winners Parsons wants disc golfers to remember are the local charities the Ice Bowl tournament participants help raise money for.
“The majority of the money raised (at our Ice Bowl) goes to the St. Joseph Food Shelf,” Parsons said. “But people will still donate to Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army. When I took over (coordinating) a few years ago everything was divided equally among the three. But my main focus is St. (Joseph) because our tournament is in St. (Joseph).”
This year, the Ice Bowl participants raised $6,732 for the food shelf through entrance fees, a silent auction, a raffle and a whine jar (because if you were caught whining about the cold temperatures you had to donate a dollar); 65 pounds of food were also donated.
Parsons said the St. Cloud Ice Bowl is one of several Ice Bowl disc golf tournaments across the country. And typically the Central Minnesota disc golfers are the most generous when it comes to the fundraising side.
“Out of roughly 200 Ice Bowl events last year, we took fourth in the amount of money raised nationwide,” Parsons said. “St. Cloud has had the reputation of usually placing in the top 10 nationwide for money raised for the Ice Bowl event.”
And as the sport continues to grow in popularity on the local level and on the national scene, Parsons said he believes the Ice Bowl tournament will continue to draw crowds – even in frigid temperatures.
“It’s a growing sport,” Parsons said. “And the people who play are always willing to help out and give back. And because of that I don’t see the Ice Bowl slowing down anytime soon.”
Vicki Ikeogu is a local freelance reporter from St. Cloud. Ikeogu is a 2015 mass communications graduate from St. Cloud State University. Ikeogu was previously the business reporter at the St. Cloud Times. She currently works as a transportation planner for the Saint Cloud Area Planning Organization.