Soaring: Disc Golf Grows in Popularity
While golf is still king in Moore County, the latest sporting craze to sweep across the Sandhills is another game played beneath stately pine trees.
The sport is called disc golf and, like “ball golf” — what its enthusiasts call traditional golf — it involves the use of a putter, driver, fade and draw, and is played from a tee box down a fairway to an ultimate target.
However, instead of clubs, balls and holes, players use their arms to throw discs into targets often referred to as baskets.
Just as real golf, a round of disc golf is comprised of 18 holes usually varying from 180 to 420 feet, with the objective being to finish a round in the lowest number of throws. On a typical recreational course, each hole is a par-3, making 54 an even par score for a round.
Discs in the sport serve as clubs and come in five different main types, including the driver, fairway driver, mid-range, approach and putter.
In the upcoming months, local disc golfers will have plenty of incentive to get out and throw those different discs around in actual competition; two tournaments are on the horizon.
The number of holes locally available is likely to increase soon. The nine-hole course in Pinehurst, located off Chicken Plant Road on the property known as West Pinehurst Community Park, is in the process of completing a back nine. Though it has yet to be given a proper name, once finished it will be the third 18-hole disc golf course in the county.
Prior to the mid-summer of 2009, before Carthage’s Hillcrest Park course was completed, Moore County residents had to travel to other counties to play the sport.
Disc golf as a sport has gained a strong foothold in the community over the past year due, in large part, to the efforts of a few die-hard enthusiasts along with the cooperation of some local businesses and the Parks and Recreation Departments of the town of Southern Pines and village of Pinehurst.
Robert Reeve, director of the Southern Pines Recreation and Parks Department (SPRPD), said the first year for the Reservoir Park disc golf course has been successful.
“We are absolutely enjoying a great cooperative effort and level of support from all those folks that are utilizing the course,” he said. “They respect it, make sure it is kept clean and also help us out with any issues that arise while providing us with constant feedback and great suggestions.
“It’s been a great year or two working with people in this community that have fully supported it like Anthony Parks and Parker Martin.”
Martin and Parks are two of the pioneers behind bringing the sport to the limelight in Moore County.
“The feeling we are getting most here is excitement,” said Parker, founder of the Moore County Disc Golf Association (MCGGA) and a skilled flinger.
“I registered the MCDGA with the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) as an official affiliate and sanctioned club in December of 2011. After coming home from college and in need of a new hobby I fell in love with the chains the first time I heard them.
“As a club, the board and I are trying to form at first, a solid group of enthusiasts and players alike who can tell their friends, family and co-workers about our sport, and secondly move to use that group to upgrade and maintain a higher level of disc golf course here that will attract both professionals and regulars alike.”
Parks, owner of The Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Southern Pines, is also a member of the MCGDA and shares Martin’s passion for the sport.
“It’s amazing how fast the sport has taken hold here in the Sandhills,” Parks said. “The amount of activity we’ve seen around the sport just in the past year confirms our belief that the area has been ready for disc golf for some time.
“Disc golf is about 40 years old, but its time has come and is now the fastest growing sport in the world. Locally, the amount of players at The Reservoir speaks volumes. Also, William Dean at Flowland took the risk of stocking discs just before the course opened and has since expanded his selection several times over.”
Dean, the owner of Flowland, confirmed the gamble to back the sport by being the first local business to offer disc golf equipment was a wise one.
“The popularity of the sport locally has been growing at a rapid rate,” he said “and we have been steadily expanding inventory to keep up with it. We have picked up a couple of new brands and more accessories. So the demand for disc golf equipment is growing exponentially.
“With the downturn in the economy, skateboarding has kind of slid, so with that business on the decline, our disc sales have grown so much that it has actually started to encroach and even take over part of our store that was designated for skating.
“Over the next few months I imagine we will probably double that space by the time they get the Chicken Plant Road course finished in Pinehurst.”
On April 21, Reservoir Park will host the first official tournament at the course. The event is sponsored by Southern Pines’ Parks and Recreation Department.
“We are really excited about the event,” said Reeve. “We have 72 spots overall and will offer three different levels, or flights based on player skill, so that anyone who signs up to participate can feel comfortable.
Contestants will play two rounds, with a first shotgun start at 10 a.m.
Pre-registration ends today, but Reeve expects that many people are waiting to sign up on the day of the event. Several spots remain open and people interested in signing up should contact the SPRPD by phone at 910-692-2463, or by going online at http://www.southernpines.net/recreation to download a registration form.
The price is $15 for residents and $30 for nonresidents and includes a T-shirt.
In addition to the tournament at Reservoir Park in Southern Pines, Martin is involved with another tournament to be held on June 9 at an actual “ball golf” course at Longleaf Golf and Country Club.
The event, dubbed the Bark Bark DG Dog Park Tourney, will be in conjunction with Longleaf member Linda Hubbard’s fourth annual Woof Woof Open charity golf tournament benefiting the Moore Humane Society’s Pooch Park in the Pines.
“Jason Aslanian, the general manager at Longleaf, is being really awesome about letting us run a disc golf tournament on his well groomed golf course,” Martin said. “But with his help we are going to make it a great event and hopefully showcase some of the great aspects of disc golf to an alternate demographic at the same time. It was actually Mrs. Hubbard’s idea, so we had a meeting, hit it off, and now we have fliers and sign-up sheets floating around the area.
“I am going to design a nine-hole disc golf course on the driving range side of the course so as not to impede on the golfers. Ball golf courses don’t normally allow this type of thing and I’ve only played one PDGA set-up like this so I am thinking it will be something special, and is going to do a lot for both MCDGA and Longleaf with providing them with an alternate revenue stream and us with more players.”
The format for the disc tournament is a doubles match-play event, with 18 teams playing best ball. Entry fees are $25 per team and registration forms can be obtained at Longleaf, Flowland and The Ice Cream Parlor.
“This is supposed to be more of an introductory event,” Martin said, “with the main focus being on spreading our sport to another demographic while allowing Longleaf to see what kind of people the disc golf community is made up of and allow them to see how much support we have for it in the area.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com.
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