Larry Kirk making his third 50/50 tour around US

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Larry Kirk tries to finish out a hole at the disc golf course at Juniper Hills Park in Madras on Wednesday. Kirk, 52, is making his third tour around the United States to play disc golf in all 50 states in 50 days, in an effort to help promote the game of disc golf.Larry Kirk loves disc golf so much, he traveled the entire United States to play a course in every state.

Then, he did it again.

And now, he’s doing it for a third time.

Kirk, a member of the 144th Fighter Unit in the Air National Guard, is touring the U.S. on his “50 States in 50 Days” tour for the third time, where he plays disc golf in every state in 50 days. He made one of his stops in Madras, to play the course at Juniper Hills Park, Monday morning.

Kirk, 52, said his passion for disc golf and trying to grow the game on a national level is what drives him to take these long road trips.

“I just wanted to play new courses, and back in 2001, I wanted to play all the courses in California,” Kirk said. He grew up in Whittier, Calif., and played his first round of disc golf when he was 16. “But this is a big passion of mine, and I want to expand the sport as much as I can.”

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Larry Kirk attempts a tough shot between some trees at the disc golf course at Juniper Hills Park.Disc golf is very similar to traditional golf. It’s scored the same — players aim for the lowest score possible and try to be under par — but the holes are actually big metal baskets the player has to throw the disc into. Birdies, pars, eagles, a hole-in-one and bogeys are all part of the game, and Kirk said he really enjoyed playing the course at Juniper Hills Park.

“The course got me a couple times, but for not ever seeing the course before, I thought I did pretty well. I loved this course.” Kirk said. He shot a 2-over, with bogeys on Hole No. 6 and No. 9. He shot even-par for the other seven holes.

The first two times Kirk traveled the nation playing disc golf, he used his own money, and money he had banked in his Air National Guard retirement account. This year, the disc golf equipment manufacturer Innova has sponsored Kirk, giving him customized, commemorative discs to sell along the way. Kirk keeps the money from the discs to help fund the trip.

Kirk said people see him as an ambassador for the sport, and that’s a role he embraces and enjoys. During his trip, he wants to reconnect with people he had met during previous trips, but he also wants to experience new courses as well. Before making it to Madras, he played at courses in Klamath Falls and Bend as part of his Oregon tour.

by: BILLY GATES/THE PIONEER - Disc golfers use a variety of different discs for different situations, as evident by Larry Kirk's full bag of discs he carries with him. He’s almost two weeks into his current tour, which began Aug. 12 in Alaska. He knocked out the two nonmainland states, Alaska and Hawaii, with his first two stops. He plans on finishing his Oregon stop with a round at Pendleton’s Community Park, then making the short trip across the Oregon-Washington border to play in Walla Walla. His second week of the tour will take him to Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

Kirk said he routinely walks up to complete strangers and asks them his favorite question, “Do you know what disc golf is?” The answer is — more often than not — no, so he takes times to educate anyone about disc golf and how it’s a fun game to play.

As he continues with his tour, Kirk said the memories he makes promoting the game he loves to play are worth the money and time spent. After he completed his first tour in 2010, he ended up having a lobster dinner to celebrate the feat.

He then found out he was right next to the Philadelphia Art Museum, near the statue of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky character statue, so he did the only thing he could think of.

He ran the stairs, and then did the famous Rocky pose with his hands in the air.

Then, like Rocky, he got back in the ring.

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