Hooking It

Brian Thompson of New Smyrna Beach carefully throws around a palmetto bush during a game with fellow members of the New Smyrna Beach Disc Golf Club at Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve.

The sport of disc golf has blossomed during the global pandemic as more people of all ages are looking for a safe way to escape the confines of home, and spend time with family and friends.

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, disc golf is played much like golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc. The sport was formalized in the 1970s and shares with golf the object of completing each hole in the fewest strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, fewest throws).

A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target, which is the "hole." The hole can be one of a number of disc golf targets; the most common is an elevated metal basket. As a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive throw from the spot where the previous throw landed. Finally, the "putt" lands in the basket and the hole is completed. You keep score exactly like golf and there are different types of discs just like there are different types of golf clubs.

According to Ryan Etchison, manager of the Disc Golf Center in DeBary, “We’ve seen a massive explosion of the popularity of the sport the last 8-9 months due to the pandemic. The sport is growing by leaps and bounds.”

Keeping up with the demand is a challenge.

“We offer 14 brands of disc golf manufacturers and typically we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 discs inside the store at any given time,” Mr. Etchison said. “We sponsor a lot of local tournaments and nationwide, and ship worldwide. It’s a very accessible sport for everyone. It’s very inexpensive to go out and play. There are so many city parks that are available for free.”

Brian Thompson, who owns The Cabinet Dude in New Smyrna Beach, is a board member of the New Smyrna Beach Disc Golf Club. The nonprofit club has more than 100 members.

“We try to promote disc golf and build disc golf courses,” Mr. Thompson said. “We have built two for Volusia County on a public/private partnership and one with the City of New Smyrna. We have another one (we built) at Crossroads Church, which was a private entity with the church. Recently we’ve been approached by the City of Port Orange because they would like to have us build them a course, and we’re in the process of trying to locate property that they own that would be suitable. We’re also working with the City of Edgewater to put a course in out by Cow Creek.”

The popularity of the sport has grown rapidly because of its easy access.

“You can show up in Daytona and play Tuscawilla, you can come play any of our courses and you can play for free,” Mr. Thompson said. “Covid definitely kickstarted it into gear. It’s a lot easier to learn this than regular ball golf. ”

The average hole is about 300 feet with predominantly par 3 courses.

Besides Tuscawilla Park in Daytona Beach, disc golf courses are at River City Nature Park in DeBary; Doris Leeper, South Glencoe Disc Golf and Holland Parks in New Smyrna Beach; Reed Canal Park in South Daytona; Holly Land Park in Holly Hill; and some private courses.

Christine Martindale, Por4t Orange public information officer, said the city has been approached by several people interested a disc golf course in the the city. “The city is researching the feasibility of having a course,” she said.

The 2021 PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championship will be in the Orlando area Aug. 17-21 and will use River City Nature Park disc golf courses in DeBary.

For more information on the New Smyrna Beach Disc Golf Club, visit nsbdiscgolf.com.

The Disc Golf Center store is in Suite 3030 at 889 S. Charles R Beall Blvd. in DeBary. For more information, visit discgolfcenter.com.

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