Disc golf: Waimea’s MacIlroy earns title at state championships


When Doug MacIlroy reached into into his bag Sunday at Naniloa Golf Course, his options for shot selections were endless.

Everything from long range to short range, hard left to soft right.

He drove, made approach shots and then putted. But he wasn’t using a ball, and he wasn’t aiming for a hole. The goal was to put a piece of plastic in the basket.

MacIlroy, of Waimea, and New Zealand’s Simon Feasey did it better than the rest, claiming their pro divisions at the Hawaii State Disc Golf Championships.

“I turned pro in 2005 and have been going great guns ever since and having a good time,” MacIlroy said. “Throwing the disc has always been in my DNA.”

The 61-year-old, who pocketed $150 for winning the grand masters division at even-par 186 for three rounds, can regularly throw the disc — which is smaller and made to fly farther than a Frisbee — more than the length of a football field.

Tournament director Rob Nasworthy said Naniloa is the first permanent 18-hole disc golf course in the state.

MacIlroy plays informally on a private course at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, but he relishes every chance he gets to play Naniloa, an open course that provides more room for error.

“I loved it,” said MacIlroy, who carries 14 discs in his bag. “In disc golf, you can grade a course as technical or big arm. This is a big-arm course, but not very technical. But it suited me fine, because I’m a big-arm player. I have long arms and good technique, so I throw it a long way.”

Feasey set the pace in the open division, finishing 19-under for an eight-shot victory over Tim McDill. Steve Gordon came in at 178.

Feasey was on vacation and visiting a friend on Maui this week when he learned about the 13th state championships, which were held at Naniloa for the first time since 2010.

“I try to intermingle business with pleasure,” said Feasey, a 46-year-old entrepreneur who was set to get on a plane Sunday night for Seattle to attend to business. “Even though I’m playing pro divisions, I’m an absolute hobby disc golfer.”

He won $230 for earning a tournament title in a seventh country. Ranked 1,022 in the world coming into the event, he’ll compete at the world championships in Portland, Ore., in August.

A former ultimate Frisbee player, he started transitioning to disc golf in 1999.

“I’ve always been good with the Frisbee,” he said. “The disc is faster and nimbler and you can do so much with it.”

Feasey held an eight-shot lead after 36 holes on Saturday (55-56), and closed with another 56 on Sunday, helping him beat his average by a few shots.

“The two rounds were tough with the heat and length, but I really enjoyed the hole placement,” he said. “It was good competition.”

The other division winners were Randall Lazarus (181, amateur 1), Mason Thompson (196, amateur 2), Dean Aurea (204, amateur masters) and Carey Carroll (220).

MacIlroy (60-61-65) played the par 5s at Naniloa, which are approximately 700 feet, at 1-under and was bogey-free. Jeff Pope was 15 strokes behind in runner-up.

A typical par-3 hole is 320-450 feet.

Nasworthy said the setup at Naniloa, which is a nine-hole golf course, is friendly to both sports.

“It’s designed so that they can co-exist,” he said. “It’s designed so that sometimes we can get out of the way and they can go right by because they are moving a little faster than we are.”

Nasworthy said there is a 12-hole disc golf course at Hilo Coffee Mill that is free to play.