School’s out, so it’s time to fling

School’s out for summer, which means two things: Teenagers everywhere are singing that old Alice Cooper song, and school teacher Jared Pittman is heading to the golf course.

Make that the disc golf course.

Pittman, 34, teaches freshman science at Kasson-Mantorville High School for a living. But for fun, and sometimes for a little extra cash, after the final bell rings he grabs his duffel bag full of flying discs and heads to the nearest park with chain baskets suspended on poles.

There are two nine-hole courses in Rochester, at Slatterly Park and East Park, and the nearest 18-hole course is at Bear Cave Park in Stewartville.

"It’s about as serious as you can take any hobby," said Pittman. "In the summer I play pretty much every day."


Pittman, who grew up in Northfield and has lived in Rochester for seven years, has been playing disc golf professionally -- yes, professionally -- for 10 years. For the former college cross-country and track athlete it satisfies his need for competition.

Pittman competed in the 2001 World Disc Championships, and ever since then he has been perhaps the top pro in the Rochester area. He won five smaller regional tournaments in 2009, and has already won three events this year -- and this season is just getting started.

"The only difference between pro and amateur players is that pros can win cash," said Pittman, who, despite his successes, can’t quite quit his day job.

"It depends on the size of the tournament, but usually you can win $100 to $300 at most," he explained. "Some of the bigger tourneys will have purses of $2,500 to $3,000, and that’s divided among many age divisions."

Pittman has competed in tournaments all across the country, although he usually sticks around the Upper Midwest, playing each year in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as the Twin Cities.

"It’s just like regular golf; you have drives, up-shots and putts, and you have different discs for each shot," Pittman explained. "In that regard it’s almost identical to ‘ball’ golf, as we call it."

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