For the last few years, father and son Joe and Austin Hendrick could, more likely than anywhere else, be found out on the disc golf course.
Joe recalled taking Austin when he was 1, in his stroller, to disc golf courses, and even at that age, the young Hendrick could hold onto a disc. Austin, once he was a little older, but still in his stroller, could sling the disc right into the basket.
Little did Joe know that as Austin got older, he would be one of the more proficient kids in his age group.
The Hendrick family has seen that skill on the national stage. Austin, now 7, is representing Montrose at the Junior Disc Golf World Championships in Emporia, Kansas. The competition started Wednesday and concludes Saturday.
According to Joe, his son is currently sitting in sixth place in his age group.
But if there’s a true reason why he’s playing, it’s because of the hours he’s spent with his dad out on the course, Joe said.
“It’s always time that we’ve had. We’re able to build a relationship together and have fun,” said Joe, who first learned how to play disc golf about 10 years ago.
That relationship has carried on while Austin plays against kids from different parts of the world.
At the junior worlds, about 210 athletes are competing in different age groups with some kids coming from oversea locations like Finland and New Zealand.
“I love disc golf because I have a lot of discs that I can practice with,” Austin said in a press release. “Since I have a lot of discs, I am getting better and better, and now I’m going to Junior Worlds and I’m seeing if I can get to the finals!”
This isn’t Austin’s first tourney. He was on fire, winning his last juniors tournament in Grand Junction by 40 strokes.
Austin is somewhat new to the disc golf courses on the Western Slope. The Hendrick family relocated from Nashville, Tennessee to Montrose in October 2018.
According to the Hendrick family, disc golf has been a great way for their son to relieve the stress of starting a new school and transitioning to a new city. Austin also loves going to the Montrose Community Recreation Center and recently played team soccer this spring with the MRD.
Although Austin has tried different sports, disc golf is his real passion, his father said.
But if there’s anything amiss about Austin and his relationship with disc golf right now, it’s that there aren’t a lot of kids his age who also play the sport. Joe said he’s noticed not that many children know about the sport, but given the chance to try it out, he believes they would enjoy it.
“The main thing that Austin wants everybody to know is that disc golf is for any age,” Joe said. “If we take the time to educate kids about the sport, I think there’s going to be a lot more people for him to play with in the future.”
Austin will enter the second grade at Pomona Elementary this fall.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.