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Ice Bowl: A Disc Golf Player's Dream

Ice BowlFrisbee Golf for the Ice BowlIt’s middle of January and we’re closing out a season full of bowls. The Super Bowl will be played next week following a late-December and early-January filled with every college bowl games. Despite all these football bowls, there is another event that is growing year after year: the Ice Bowl.

No, not the 1967 NFL Championship, but the annual winter disc golf fundraiser. Ice Bowl events take place in hundreds of cities across the world.

While disc golf is usually reserved for the warmer times of the year, many cities make a mid-January exception by hosting a disc golf tournament regardless of the weather conditions. The winners earn bragging rights; the proceeds go to local charities and food shelves.

The Ice Bowl is closing in on 25 years of existence. The founder, or title he prefers ‘the instigator’, Rick Rothstein has been with it every step of the way. On January 18th 1987, Rothstein and 33 audacious disc golfers trudged through five inches of snow in Columbia, Missouri to complete a round of disc golf. From that year, the event has not only grown but thrived.

While the Ice Bowl grew in popularity, the idea also evolved. What began as a day of “disc golf solidarity” in “a remembrance that the disc golf season will return” has now become a two-month extravaganza that emphasizes goodwill, charity and cohesion of community. Ice Bowl events can be held anywhere in the world on any weekend in January or February.

In 1996 Ice Bowl headquarters began insisting all official Ice Bowl events participants and spectators bring donations for a local charity or canned goods for a food shelf. Since then both the events and donations have grown wildly. In 2010 alone, 222 Ice Bowl events raised $259,768 in cash donations and 67,451 pounds of food.

Ice Bowl events are also welcomed in warm weather climates. Many warm, southern states like California, Nevada and Florida plan on hosting 2011 Ice Bowls. The average Ice Bowl temperature last year was a chilly 34.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over the years, Ice Bowl has embraced three simple rules:

  • First, under no circumstances, may an Ice Bowl be cancelled or postponed because of weather conditions.
  • Second, no wimps or whiners are allowed.
  • And laDisc Golf TeamDisc Golf Teamstly, there is no excuse not to show up, unless you’re a whiner. Perhaps these rules are the reason the 2010 Ice Bowl set an all-time record with 11,736 participants.


Another tradition that has emerged over the years is the team's communal meal at the disc golf event. Chili is a commonly prepared dish in Ice Bowl’s cold weather locations. More elaborate meals such as barbequed ribs, steak or jumbo shrimp are often seen in the warmer Ice Bowl climates.

“There are some towns where the chili contest competition is more heated than anything that occurs on the course.” Rothstein wrote in his 2011 Ice Bowl newsletter.

The event, which continues to grow at a rapid pace, has already raised more than $1.6 million and nearly 415,000 pounds of food from 2,200 Ice Bowl events and 216,000 participants. What began as a few dozen guys chasing their discs through heavy snow has turned into a massive charitable event and a great example of a widespread community coming together for a good cause.

For information on how to start an Ice Bowl in your city, contact founder and “instigator” Rick Rothstein at


Max Selim

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