Disc golf 101: The sustainable sport
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 20:51
I have never been good at golf. I have the attitude toward golf that Robin Williams does when he describes the Scotsman who conceived the notion of knocking a ball in a gopher hole hundreds of yards away eighteen times with a tire iron. To those who can play and enjoy the sport, I commend you for your patience and finesse.
Frisbee has always been more of my thing, especially being a college student. It seems as if on college applications, along with the criteria of GPA and class rank, one must have comparable frisbee-throwing skills. And it makes sense: it is an easy pick-up game requiring only a plastic disc and as little as one other person. Now, take this concept and combine it with the golf ideas of holes and pars and the sport of disc golf is born. According to discgolfstore.com, there are over 1,220 disc golf courses in the United States, and most of them are either free to play, or charge a very low admission price. If that fails to convince you to grab a disc and start throwing at a basket, then try this: disc golfing is much better for the environment than your typical "tire iron" golf.
The typical golf course has rolling, manicured hills and straights, bordered by thin patches of "rough," or wooded areas. To keep the green smooth, most golf courses are mowed nearly every day during the season, using gallons of fuel to power the mowers and the clippings are removed from the ground, creating poor soil condition. Also, when a golf course is built, the destruction of trees and shrubs causes habitat fragmentation, and many species of local wildlife lose their habitats. Also, many golfers drive the handy golf carts around, which also add to emissions.
Disc golf, however, is a sport that works around the habitat of the area, allowing the existing flora and fauna to challenge players, rather than man-made hills and sand traps. Many who play disc golf will tell you that hiking boots are a good idea, especially when those discs go flying off a wild throw. Players must throw specialized discs, which look like smaller, flattened frisbees, towards a basket with metal chains. The idea of par in disc golf is the same as in regular golf. Disc golf is certainly more family-friendly, as more people find it easier to throw a frisbee than to swing a golf club. (Need evidence? Compare the number of books you find in a bookstore on golf technique versus frisbee technique. That's what I thought.)
When the local disc golf course opened near my home in Ashland, Kentucky, my dad and I decided to try it out. We were interviewed by the local paper while there, and our reviews could not have been more positive. Every time I am home for a weekend or break from Ohio University, I know I will find myself tossing a brightly-colored disc towards a basket, hoping to hear the clinking of chains that means I've successfully found the basket.
With little to no cost for admission, few playing materials and natural topography surrounding you, why not try disc golf? There are 38 courses in Ohio alone. Check out www.pdga.com for course locations and also professional rules on playing the game. Good luck!
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