Thursday, August 12, 2004

More folks are having a fling with disc golf

Frisbee version 'absolutely exploding' in popularity

By P.G. Sittenfeld
Enquirer contributor

Eric Best (left), 32, of Demossville, launches his disc from a tee at the disc golf course at Banklick Woods Park in Independence. He was playing with (left to right) Wayne Bradley , 30, of Park Hills; Robin Russo , 28, of Crescent Springs; Matt Payne, 31, of Crescent Springs, and Grandon Lykins, 26, of Park Hills.
Next time you have a bad shot off the tee, no need to throw your club. Instead, trade it in for a disc.

"Disc golf is easier and less frustrating than regular golf," says Steve Trauger, recreations program coordinator for Kenton County Fiscal Court. But, he warns with a chuckle, "Then again, that only makes you feel worse when you still have lousy shots."

Even so, the sport is gaining popularity in Northern Kentucky.

"Disc golf is exploding right now - absolutely exploding," says Trauger.

So much so that Banklick Woods in Independence is expanding its course from 18 to 24 "holes," with an expected completion by September.

Disc golf is similar to regular golf except that players throw a flying disc - heavier and smaller in diameter than a Frisbee - rather than hit a ball.

Instead of holes, players seek to land the disc in an elevated metal basket.

As in regular golf, bogies bring frowns while birdies are cause for celebration. The Professional Disc Golf Association, which was founded in 1976, sponsors regional and national tournaments. There are now 30 disc golf courses in Kentucky and 42 in Ohio.

Taylor Smith, 20, of Cincinnati plays the game three times a week at Banklick Woods. "It's fun, it's free, and you're outside. More people need to get out and try it," he said.

Many disc golfers approach the game with a competitive spirit. "I'm always trying to beat my personal best," said Chad Aylor, 25, of Florence, whose dog has on occasion joined him for a round.

More serious disc golfers often carry a bag of different discs, some of which are designed for "teeing off" and travel farther through the air, while other discs are used for shots closer to the hole. Then there are what Trauger calls "one-disc wonders" - players who choose to use only a single disc.

For the wrist-flicking faithful, the goal is a low stress form of recreation. The sport is a hit particularly with 16- to 30-year-olds because it costs nothing to play and the price of a disc is minimal.

"On a nice summer day, 300 to 400 people play the Banklick Woods course, and you can double that on the weekends," says Trauger.

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