At Deer Run Park on Saturday, Oct. 10, the discs will fly.
Brown County Parks and Recreation is hosting a four-hour “Disc Golf Day” in partnership with the Bloomington Disc Golf Club to help introduce the sport to Brown County.
In addition, Brown County Parks and Recreation Director Mark Shields hopes to gauge public interest in setting up a permanent course at the park.
Members of the Bloomington club will be on hand Oct. 10 to help beginners, said Chris Baker, an officer with the Bloomington club. Discs will be available to borrow.
However, players of all skill levels are welcome, Shields said.
The course, which will be set up using temporary baskets, will be open and free, and participants will be welcome to run through the nine-hole course as many times as they like.
“It’s fun to just get outdoors and get exercise while doing something that you don’t even realize you’re walking a mile for a round,” Baker said.
Disc golf is played with baskets taking the place of the holes. Baskets are topped by cages of chain that drape down and help to catch the incoming disc.Aside from the use of thrown discs instead of clubs and balls, the sport is relatively similar to regular golf, Baker said.The courses are usually shorter, as the discs cannot be thrown as far as balls can be hit, he said.
“Usually a 300-yard golf hole would be, for us, a 300-foot disc golf hole,” he said.
One advantage of the size difference is that a disc golf course can often fit in a fairly small space compared to a regular golf course, Baker said.
Courses also have out-of-bounds and obstacles and hazards to play around, he said. Players use discs of varying weights and aerodynamics much in the way golfers use different clubs, he said.
There is also a national organization, the Professional Disc Golf Association, which has been around since the late 1970s.
Making it big
There are four courses in Monroe County, including one on the grounds of Edgewood High School.The Edgewood Middle School uses it as part of their physical education curriculum, Baker said. He would like to generate similar interest in Brown County.Indiana has an annual high school disc golf championship in July, he said.
“Ultimately, my club has a vision of getting some teens together from the local high schools around us to take to that state tournament,” he said.
The average age of players is probably between 25 and 35, Baker said. But the association has divisions for all ages, all the way down to 10-and-under, and the World Championships in Pittsburgh this year had an 80-plus age bracket.
The Bloomington club dates to 1999 and has about 40 active members, said Baker, who has played for about 18 years.
He would like to see a similar club started in Brown County if there is enough interest.
Shields said parks and recreation has looked at putting in a permanent course at Deer Run if interest is high enough.
The equipment need for an entire 18-hole course could be bought for about $5,800, Baker estimated. Installation would mostly involve placing sleeves in the ground to hold the baskets.
Shields said the cost could be covered in whole or in part by having local businesses sponsor holes.
“We do that at our course in Ellettsville,” Baker said. “A hole sponsor would get their logo on a sign at the beginning of the hole, and they would get their logo on a basket topper.”
Once installed, maintenance for a disc golf course would not involve much more than what is already needed for groundskeeping at the park, and the course could share space with other activities, he said.
Baker said there are some side benefits to having disc golf players roaming the park as well, such as their reputation for cleaning up other people’s litter.
Shields said he anticipates there could also be some economic benefit from a permanent course if tournaments are held there.
Currently, about 18 tournaments take place annually in Indiana, Baker said. About 100 participants were in a recent tournament Baker attended.
However, Shields’ main focus is still on serving the local community’s recreation needs.
“We’d want to have something else to add for the community, just something else that would be free,” Shields said. “Just like with basketball or any other sport, this would be an opportunity where people could go out to Deer Run, and it would be free of charge.”
“That’s our interest,” Shields said. “Just expanding another opportunity with parks and rec for the local community.”
What: Disc Golf Day
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10
Where: Deer Run Park
What to bring: Curiosity and friends; equipment will be provided