Low-Cost Fun: Disc Golf Combines Camaraderie, Challenges and Good Times
On a humid evening in mid-July, about a dozen foursomes gathered in a wooded area to play a round of golf. But they weren’t using clubs or planning to hit any small white balls. These golfers were armed with brightly colored, round pieces of plastic.
This was disc golf, a sport that has devotees every bit as avid as those found on a traditional golf course.
These discs were not your lazy-afternoon-at-the-beach Frisbees. Each golfer carried a bag crammed with a dozen or more discs of various weights, flight patterns and stability factors. Some are drivers for the long shots, some are mid-range for approach shots, and there are even putters.
Instead of a hole, the golfers try to drop the discs into a basket draped in chains about four feet off the ground.
Most courses utilize wooded terrain where the clear area for disc flight might be no more than a few dozen feet wide. Despite their bright colors — orange and yellow are among the popular choices — discs can get lost in the woods. Although they’re plastic, they can sink easily into the depths of a pond or lake.
Like it is in the ball golf world, Augusta is widely known in the disc golf sphere. The International Disc Golf Center, home of the Professional Disc Golf Association, is located in Appling. The National Collegiate Disc Golf championships are held annually in North Augusta, and several courses in the CSRA have hosted amateur and professional world disc golf tournaments. In addition, there are a number of sanctioned tournaments played throughout the area.
“This is a destination that people travel to from around the world,” said Henry Hamilton, president of the Augusta Disc Golf Association (ADGA). “A lot of ball golfers are also disc golfers. There couldn’t have been a better pairing of the two.”
For locals, the ADGA offers league play every night of the week, as well as a number of tournaments.
Part of the appeal of disc golf is the ease of getting started. A starter set of two or three discs runs about $20-$30, and many of the courses are free. A round can be played in under three hours, and dress codes are far less stringent than on traditional courses.
And even though many shots require precision and strategy, the game is casual enough that anyone can play and have fun. Hamilton said he’s seen people from pre-teens to those in their 80s on the courses.
“It’s an excellent family activity,” Hamilton said. “We have people from all walks of life — doctors, lawyers, college kids — all coming together for one thing: to throw the disc in the basket and hear the chains ring.”
The casual atmosphere and closeness to nature develop an esprit de corps even among strangers. Newcomers are greeted warmly and are offered a helping hand.
“The community is very responsive to new players,” Hamilton said. “Just like any sport, you have your cliques, but we’re all still here to have a great big good time.”
Disc golf in the Augusta area does require a bit of exercise — and bug spray — as the courses move up and down hills, across streams and over exposed tree roots. But it is also great for rehabilitation, as Hamilton can attest.
“My brother picked up disc golf years ago, but I said, ‘I’m not going to go throw Frisbees in the woods,’” Hamilton said. “It didn’t sound interesting at all.”