Awesome exercise … great for families, kids, adults, seniors … easy to learn … very affordable … found in every state … year-round accessibility. It sounds too good to be true, but there really IS an activity that is all of the above! It’s Disc Golf, and it’s one of the fastest-growing activities in the US.
Yes, it’s golf with a disc. Back in the 70s, some of us were just learning to throw a ‘frisbee,’ the precursor to today’s disc. Now, you see the signature chain-link ‘holes’ on college campuses, in state parks, on front yards in the suburbs and on courses designed and built specifically for this rapidly-growing activity.
Whether you hook and curve your throw, roll it on the ground, wing it over trees or sail it directly into the hole, the game of disc golf is filled with technique, strategy, and lots of fun.
From school age to golden age, virtually anyone can play, making this one of the greatest lifetime sports ever. It is also very easy to learn, and extremely inexpensive. Discs can be purchased for about $10, and with free-to-play courses in all 50 states, it is accessible to everyone.
Kim Hatcher, Public Affairs Coordinator for Georgia State Parks, says, “All ages can play. It is inexpensive, it’s great exercise and it is fun. If you are a person that doesn’t like the gym but loves the outdoors, this is the sport for you. You get a lot more exercise than you think you are getting because of the walking across hilly terrain, throwing the disc, bending down, etc.”
Where Can I Play?
Most of the 3,000 courses worldwide are right here in the U.S. Courses can be found in city parks, on college and high school campuses, and other public locations, many of which are free-to-play venues.
In Georgia, four state parks have disc golf courses: Fort Yargo, Cloudland Canyon, Richard B. Russell and Georgia Veterans. According to Hatcher, “In Georgia’s parks, you will pay just $3 to play and $5 to park. We have annual passes, too, which give you the option to play all the courses at any time during that year.” For specifics about these parks, go to http://www.gastateparks.org.
There are also two local courses in the Athens area. Sandy Creek Park has a challenging, yet fun 23 hole course that is only $1 to play. Herman C. Michael Park in Oconee is 18 holes and is free to play. There are even local leagues and tournaments that you can join. For more information and links, check out www.AthensDiscGolf.com
Why Should I Play?
The ongoing fitness boom finds more and more people taking up recreational activities in an effort to improve health and quality of life. Disc golf helps you with upper and lower body conditioning and aerobic exercise. It also promotes a combination of physical and mental abilities that allow very little risk of physical injury. Concentration skills increase by mastering shots and negotiating obstacles. Players of limited fitness levels can start slowly and gradually increase their level of play as fitness improves.
Scheduling is also flexible; a round takes one to two hours, and may be played alone, eliminating the difficulty of scheduling tee times. As in traditional golf, disc golfers find themselves ‘hooked’ by the sport, increasing the likelihood of frequent participation. Disc golf offers year-round fitness, even in rain or snow! And, of course, there’s the sheer fun of the game – no matter what your age or skill level!
What else should I know?
Jared Hightower, athletic program coordinator for Herman C. Michael Park right here in Oconee County, has helped design disc golf courses in corporate wellness parks, and he is currently working with the nonprofit Connections for Special Parents to identify ways for people with disabilities to play disc golf.
The Herman C. Michael disc golf course is an 18-hole course, and they hold a tournament during the first weekend in May each year. According to Hightower, there are local or regional tournaments almost every weekend from the beginning of spring through fall. He has helped design disc golf park course in corporate wellness parks, some of which have a walking trail around the outside of the park, around which he designs the course.
“This is a non-traditional sport. People get the bug, and they don’t have to be a superstar athlete to play,” says Hightower. “There are techniques and styles, but this is do-able for anyone. You can take this sport to whatever level you want.”
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