, 2022-08-31 02:00:00,
Flying discs are getting air across the Nelson region – and it’s all in the name of a sport increasing in popularity.
Disc golf, or Frisbee golf, has seen participants flicking discs around a course for decades throughout the world, but most people still haven’t heard of the game, Nelson disc golf veteran James Smithells said.
Permanent courses catering to the game are quickly springing up across Nelson, and while Smithells said it had taken 25 years to get to this point, “it’s certainly happening now”.
“The growth’s been phenomenal.”
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Disc golf gets its name from having similar rules to regular golf. Each hole has a par and a variety of discs can be used, much like different clubs, including distance drivers, fairway drivers, midranges, and putters.
Players start at a tee and aim to get their disc into chained baskets spanning nine or 18 ‘holes’.
But Smithells, 70, said since being introduced to the game by a friend in 1976, he had seen it change “a great deal”.
Discs have become more aerodynamic, and basket targets had been created instead of the “object courses”, he said, which saw players aiming for trees, rocks and benches around parks.
In 1996, the first permanent disc golf course opened in Queenstown, with Smithells being intrinsic in its inception along with a couple of others passionate about the sport.
It was “a pivotal moment” in New Zealand disc golf conception, he said.
“Once people saw a course could be made, then other people started setting up courses.”
He said the allure for him was watching the discs fly.
“When you see a well thrown disc … it’s just a thing of beauty seeing it flying in the air and curving around the trees. There’s something magical about seeing a disc fly.”
Anyone could play the game, he said, including children, people in wheelchairs and older people.
While regular players could be carrying 15 to 20 discs around a course, Smithells said those starting the game only needed one disc to get around a course.
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