Few have heard of disc golf, let alone played it. It is a pastime that has been ignored by most athletes and sports fanatics, so much so that finding a disc golf basket in a park would be a thoroughly confusing experience for many. Yet it is a sport that has much to offer people of all ages, from children to retirees and everyone in between, due to it’s accessible nature.
The basic objective is the same as golf, but instead of hitting a ball one throws a disc the same way one might throw a Frisbee. The ‘hole’ is a metal basket with chains coming down the middle to catch the discs, giving it a basketball net-like appearance.
Courses are generally set up in public parks and are maintained by the City, with Calgary’s premier disc golf course being the 18-hole Baker Park course along the Bow River in the northwest. There is also a course at the Nordic Centre in Canmore that provides stunning views of the Rockies along with a challenging 18 holes.
Though the sport takes its inspiration from golf, the similarities end there. Disc golf courses are nearly always free and are can be completed quicker than regular golf courses. Disc golfers don’t need to spend four to five hours of their day playing a round or invest hundreds of dollars in expensive equipment. While regular golf can be a competitive and even stressful sport, disc golf is a more relaxed and recreational endevour.
As long as the weather is reasonable, one is almost guaranteed to find some disc golfers out for a round in Baker Park. Tom Vickers, Byron Dancy and Andrew Lychack are junior high teachers who regularly play together. Vickers has been involved in the sport for over 15 years.
“I started out in Vancouver and have just been totally addicted to it ever since,” said Vickers. “It’s awesome. The freedom of it, the cool people that you meet. It’s absolutely the best sport I’ve come across.”
Vickers added that the relaxed nature of the activity is in stark contrast to what he called the pretentiousness of regular golf. Along with the easygoing attitude, another appealing aspect of disc golf is the low price tag.
“I’ve been playing for a couple years,” said Dancy. “I’ve been hanging out with these guys and they’re cheap, so I figure I might as well play a cheap sport too. It’s fun to get out.”
In the days of rising tuition, textbook and living costs, disc golf offers prime entertainment for students at a bargain price. The Baker Park course can be played in all seasons and is fairly close to the University of Calgary campus. The only cost associated with the sport is the price of a disc, which ranges from $15–20.
While a novice disc golfer could be forgiven for using a Frisbee, dedicated disc golfers use a set of discs, each one crafted for a certain distance. Some discs offer greater control of the flight path, allowing practiced disc golfers to bend around trees that may stand in the way of the hole.
The Calgary Disc Golf Club has been operating in the city since 2010 and offers scheduled tournaments and playoffs with small cash prizes for those who finish on top of the leaderboard. The newly created organization, which offers memberships for $30, is a testament to the growth that the sport is currently experiencing. Andrew Lychack has also noticed this increase in popularity over the past few years. He believes the affordability of disc golf has played a large role.
“It’s way busier down here now on weekends than it used to be,” said Lychack. “It’s free, and you can’t do anything for free anymore.”