From local parks and school grounds, to breweries and hotel properties — interest in disc golf has been soaring like a high-flying Frisbee.
The popularity of the growing sport over the past few years is such that it now hosts regional and national tournaments, has oversight from an officiating board, and a cult-like following that ranges from the non-athlete to the sponsored professional.
“In terms of the rules and scoring, disc golf is basically identical to traditional ball golf, except players throw a disc into a basket [with chains that grab the disc] instead of hitting a ball into a hole. The goal is to complete the course with the fewest number of throws,” said Marian Allen of French Broad Outfitters – a local company specializing in sport equipment rental and disc golf. “Those who enjoy disc golf get all the same benefits as ball golf: spending time outdoors, plenty of walking, low risk of injury, strengthening of the back and arms, and creating and strengthening friendships.”
The appeal of the sport isn’t sheer athleticism or skill, but its hallmark is the disc golf community’s inclusiveness.
“From my experience, most disc golfers are ‘go with the flow’ relaxed individuals [who are] happy to help you improve if you ask, or let you play without interference if you don’t. They are the kind of guys who, even if they have never met you and are playing on a different hole, will stop their round to help you find your lost disc,” said Asheville disc golf enthusiast, Gary “Monster” Smith.
With over 3,000 courses in the U.S. — most of them free with a low upfront investment in gear — and over 40 courses within an hour drive of downtown Asheville, disc golf is a relatively easy sport to get involved with for anyone looking for a new way to enjoy the outdoors.
“[For the beginner], Google a local disc golf park and just go — you would be amazed at how friendly and helpful the people are. If that’s a little too outgoing for some, I would recommend checking out the WNC Disc Golf [WNCDG] Facebook page,” said Smith.
Many local outfitters and outdoor retailers, including Mast General Store, French Broad Outfitters, and REI, to name a few, have the requisite gear for a beginner and maps and recommendations for courses to explore.
“All you need is one disc that ranges from $8-$20, really, that’s it. I would recommend a putter or midrange disc to start,” said WNCDG member, Tyler Atkins. Afterward, take a trip to local hot spots like the Richmond Hill Inn, the Salvage Station, or Pisgah Brewing to get started.
“I can safely say the disc golf community is the most widely cast net and most accepting community I have been a part of. From plumbers to doctors, to educators to TV personalities — a lot of us are outdoor enthusiasts… Even the most serious disc golfers would also agree that even when they have money or reputation on the line, the bottom line is they are there because it’s fun,” said Atkins. “It’s a great sport to play on a lifelong basis. You don’t have to have 10 other people to play, you can go out by yourself, and combine a scenic walk in a park or the woods with a competitive drive.”
For those looking to learn more about the sport, or to become connect with players in the local Asheville disc golf community, local enthusiasts and professionals recommend visiting www.pdga.com/introduction, or the WNC Disc Golf Facebook page.
By Whitney Cooper