Hitting the ‘sweet spot’: Disc golf popularity rises and Kern County has a variety of courses for players
, 2022-11-02 00:45:42,
Disc golf is a sport for varied skill levels and is enjoyed by people of varied ages. | Pixabay/JoshuaChoate
The history of disc golf spans back nearly a century to Saskatchewan, Canada with the use of tin lids and makeshift holes, and while the game has evolved over the years it has become a growing activity across the nation, including Kern County, which has several course of its own.
The activity has hit the “sweet spot” (disc slang for the point of the basket where the disc has the highest likelihood of staying in the basket when hit) in popularity.
Discsportshistory.com said that the first recorded disc golf was in 1926 when Ronald Gibson and his friends from Bladworth Elementary School played a game in which they threw tin lids into circles that were drawn into the ground. It was dubbed “tin lid golf” and reportedly played regularly.
Fast forward to 1959 when George Sappenfield and Kevin Donnelly began spreading a form of the game to cities in California and called the sport “Frisbee golf” – now referred to as “disc golf.” In 1961, Donnelly was a recreation supervisor for Newport Beach, California, and he created a Frisbee golf tournament for children at playgrounds. This led to a citywide Frisbee golf tournament that was sponsored by Wham-O in 1965. The event had hula hoops for holes and also had a set of rules, hole lengths, pars and prizes. Frisbee inventor Walter Frederick Morrison even attended the tournament.
Another report by Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) said “Steady” Ed Headrick is the “father of disc golf.” He patented a number of inventions with two pertaining to disc golf. One was the Frisbee in 1966, as an employee for Wham-O, and the other is the disc golf pole hole which is what current holes are based on.
Sappenfield was a recreation counselor during summer break while attending Fresno State University. He was playing golf one day and had the idea that children in the playground could use Frisbees for a form of golf. He later found out Donnelly had been doing the same thing and they formulated ideas together.
PDGA reports that Sappenfield graduated college in 1968 and became the Parks and Recreation supervisor for Thousand Oaks, California. He spoke with Wham-O about ideas for a tournament and the company offered him a job as a promotions consultant. There he met Headrick and discussed holding an event at the…
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