Will Disc Golf Become an American Pastime? – PRINT Magazine
, 2022-09-12 06:00:00,
What is disc golf? And why, as The New York Times recently reported, is it growing in popularity? Like Pickleball, it is an outdoor sport that is thriving thanks to COVID. With similar rules to traditional golf, players use a variety of plastic discs (like frisbees, but heavier) that are thrown down fairways, and eventually into a goal. The main objective, as in traditional golf, is to complete each “hole” with the fewest amount of strokes.
The brainchild of “Steady” Ed Headrick, disc golf was born in Huntington Beach, Pasadena, in the mid 1970s. (There is so much more to learn about the sport’s inception and growth; check out the Professional Disc Golf Association for a detailed history.)
Aaron Knickerbocker, a landscape gardener in Northwest Connecticut, has become so impassioned by the sport that he’s devoted a large part of his time to clearing out land, managing invasive plants and designing courses in the verdant countryside. I asked him to talk about the phenomenon that’s a grassroots alternative to the country club experience.
How’d you get involved with the sport, and why did you begin designing courses?
I unfortunately only found out about disc golf for the first time through friends in about 2014. One day I was asked to go “Frolfing” (frisbee-golfing, both of which are incorrect terms for the sport but which casual players sometimes use). My friend took me to their little three-acre course they made at their parents’ home, lent me discs to try, and it was on from there. I was instantly hooked. Within a year or two, I heard news of a volunteer project to install a disc golf course in Canaan, CT, where I live. I found out more info and I showed up to help on the first volunteer day. I started to care about the project greatly and helped every opportunity I could. After some time passed, the person who began and ran the project decided they didn’t want to do volunteer work anymore and abandoned the project. I had the tools and skills and design prowess needed, so I took over the lead. The initial design was very rushed and uninspired, so I redesigned the large majority of the course, and over the course of five years (thousands of volunteer hours), completed the course. The success of that course taught me that I was able to render a valuable service to the public, and my disc golf course designing and building continued from there.
How different is it from golf?
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