, 2023-02-19 02:00:00,
When Michael Dunkle started playing disc golf in 1980, courses for the little-known sport were few and far between, and even less around Lebanon County.
But that all changed when Dunkle and his friend put up their own course in his own backyard.
Disc golf, or frisbee golf, as some people call it, has only been around in its modern form for a handful of decades. It was invented shortly after the Wham-O toy company began selling the Frisbee.
The sport, which much like traditional golf involves players going through courses of 9 or 18 holes trying to throw a disc into a hoop in as few turns as possible, was relatively unknown for much of its early existence and largely contained to the West Coast.
But popularity in the sport in the last 20 or so years has exploded, growing even more during the pandemic when people yearned for something they could do with some distance between others.
Dunkle, who is a kind of father of disc golf in Lebanon County, said that in recent years Pennsylvania became a mecca of disc golf, drawing in players from across the country to new courses being built every year.
In 2019, 700 competitors from around the world gathered in central Pa. for the PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships to play through courses in three counties.
Before that, the 2005 PDGA World Championship was held in Allentown.
In the 80s and 90s, Dunkle and his friend, Charlie Greco, traveled across the East Coast to play different courses, which were few and far between. It was through those experiences that the two began to understand what makes a good disc golf course.
“A lot of times it’s elevation change, if there’s water on the property that’s always a good thing kind of like a regular golf course, you’re looking for any kind of hazards,” Dunkle said. “Usually I’ll walk the property, the park or whatever, I’ll walk it a bunch of times I’m there before I even start coming up with a plan just looking for different features.”
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The duo quickly decided that they needed a course in and around their area to play, and in 1994 they remodeled a course at the Conrad Weiser Homestead. Then in 1996, they built a course from the ground up at the quarry in Millardsville.
In 2001, they built their first course in Lebanon County, a small 18-hole course right in his…
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