By Stephen Nunnelee
The steady clank of chains hitting metal posts rings through Lindsey Park as the Rose City Disc Club members prepare for one of their weekly tournaments in one of the fastest growing sports in America.
“The main reason I came out and started playing is this is a great group of guys. You come out and play and everybody is willing to help and give tips,” said David Orchard of Tyler, “It’s awesome to come out and see more experienced people play and learn from them.”
Disc golf is played much like traditional golf. Instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc. The sport was formalized in the 1970s, and shares with traditional golf the object of completing each hole in the fewest number of strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, the fewest number of throws). A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target which is the “hole.” Players trek up and down hills while carrying their pack of various discs. Some have fancy packs on wheels while other use special made backpacks. Taking the game very seriously they pack their bags with Putters, Drivers, and Wedges. As you walk through the woods you can see chain baskets scattered amidst the trees. Lindsey Park has three separate courses all within walking distance of one another.
“In the beginning there were just 12 holes, nothing going through the woods just a real basic course,” said Paul Owen, TJC foundation board of directors member and Rose City Disc Club member of over 13 years. “Now there are 54 baskets and each one has two or three locations to throw from, all with cemented throwing pads giving at least 110 different shots out here. We made it where pros and beginners alike can go tear it up, as we call it.”
The three courses; Hickory, Cedar, and Dogwood range in difficulty. The Hickory course is designed for newcomers and Dogwood being the Championship course. All three courses have long and short boxes to throw from. The short boxes make it so that any level player can use any course. Owen has been involved in the development of the courses throughout the years.
“I go out and plot the courses and provide the baskets. The hard work is done by the club, and the city supplies the cement, which is quite expensive. We also work hand-and-hand with the city arborist. Anything we cut out we have to replace,” said Owen, “We try to make interesting things like the pyramid you see, not just common disc golf. We have a top 10 percent course in Texas, if not America.”
Lindsey Park hosts an annual Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) sponsored event every fall. The 10th annual Piney Woods Open held in November had over 120 competitors from all over the nation. Rose City Disc Club also hosts its own mini-tournaments at Lindsey Park three times a week held on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Rose City Disc Club also holds tournaments for various charity organizations.
“We have had a tournament for Wounded Warriors in the past and also Children’s Miracle Network,” said Owen. “We have raised over $40,000 dollars in the past 10 years for the Children’s Miracle Network.”
With the fitness ‘bug’ becoming more and more popular, people have started to take up recreational activities in an effort to better their health. Disc golf provides upper and lower body conditioning and promotes a combination of physical and mental challenges that pose very little risk of injury.
“The best thing about this sport is getting a workout, just walking these courses will help you lose Weight,” said Chris Farnham, Rose City Disc Club member of 14 years, “If you’re into hiking or nature and looking to get into a growing sport, this is where you wanna be.”
The PDGA has a member base of more than 40,000 and holds competitions for men and women of every skill level all over the country. Disc Golf has grown extremely popular in Tyler over the last 15 years, with at least five active courses in town. Mr. Owens has also started talks with the city about adding another course at Faulkner Park in South Tyler.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rose-City-Disc-Club/111024985630725