Frisbees on the fairway

November 05, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Clay Blunk, right, watches as Chet Butler finishes off the hole at the Little Heiskell Disc Golf Challenge held on Saturday at Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

So long polo shirts, sun visors and golf gloves.

Not a golfer in sight sported such staples Saturday at Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run. Most opted instead for indie or hipster looks with eclectic headwear.

Then again, the unconventional crowd wasn't using clubs, or even balls for that matter. The objects of sport were Frisbee-like discs and elevated metal baskets at the Professional Disc Golf Association-sanctioned Little Heiskell Challenge.

Tournament co-director Brad Lescalleet said disc golf is played much like traditional golf.

"We are trying to get from the tee to the hole, or in this case the basket, in the fewest throws," he said.

Lescalleet, who is with the Greencastle, Pa.-based 717 Flying Disc Club, said disc golf was established as a sport during the 1970s. While he said there are about 100 disc golf courses within an hour's drive of Hagerstown, the sport still is fairly new to the Tri-State area.

The 717 club was instrumental in establishing the Whispering Falls Disc Golf Course in Greencastle in 2007. Hagerstown Greens began offering disc golf the first and third Sunday and Monday of each month this past August.

"I just love playing," Lescalleet said. "I wanna see as many people playing and as many courses as possible. It's getting more and more popular."

More than 60 people played in the Little Heiskell tournament. Lescalleet said he was "ecstatic" with the turnout, as he'd set a goal of 30 or 35. A number of people traveled an hour or more to attend.

"We've got everyone here," Lescalleet said. "People who've been playing for 20 years, people who just started last month. We've got teachers, lawyers, doctors, firefighters, real estate agents. It appeals to a wide demographic."

Jay Gobrecht, 55, of Hanover, Pa., is a 20-year veteran of the sport. He and his friends started off pointing to objects such as rocks and telephone poles and challenging one another to hit them with Frisbees. Now, Gobrecht teaches physical education to kindergarten through third grade and incorporates disc golf into his lessons.

"It's a good way to be physically active, to be in shape, healthy, competitive and to have fun," he said.

Tournament co-director Russell Johnston, 34, of Hagerstown, said he would like to see more clubs and schools involved in the sport.

"It's low-risk. It doesn't cost much. Anyone can play. It doesn't matter your age, your skill level, physical fitness. Everyone can get out to play and try to beat their own score," Johnston said.

Rick Connor, 48, of Hagerstown said he began playing disc golf 30 years ago at one of the first courses on the East Coast in College Park, Md. Connor said he enjoys the variety of disc golf courses. Some are on rolling greens, while other are in the woods with poison ivy and tight tree-lined fairways, he said.

"It's just a great game. You can play by yourself, you can play with other people. It's a way to get out and stretch your legs, like ball golf," Connor said. "There is nothing like throwing a disc hard. It's a lot of fun."

Lescalleet said discs range in price from about $5 to 30 each. It is possible for players to play with just one disc, and most courses charge a minimal fee or no fee at all to play, he said.

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