Riding the Wind: Warm breezes open up perfect shot at new hobby

Spring break is finally here, and many are more than ready to wave goodbye to the bitter cold and snow of winter and are eager to embrace the beautiful spring weather. Looking for a new way to spend time having fun outdoors? Then look no further than the joys of disc golf.

Not a “sports” person? Don’t worry — the game can be played as casually or competitively as you prefer.

Never played a sport before? Perfect — disc golf is a great activity for anyone of any age, size or athletic ability.

Broke? Not a problem — aside from the relatively cheap price of a couple discs to play with, disc golf parks are public property made just for you to play on.

Beginning in 1975, disc golf is one of America’s newest and fastest growing sports. The goal is simple: starting from the tee box, get your disc into a designated chain basket in as few throws as possible.

Disc golf is a terrific activity to do with friends. Whether playing a round for fun with a friend or keeping score in a competitive best-shot tournament with a big group, the game is perfect for spending time together and having fun.

Starting in the summer of 2013, a few of my friends and I first tried discing. It quickly became one of our favorite activities, and by summer of 2014, it is safe to say that we became avid disc golf hobbyists. It became summer-ritual to arrive at the course and play as more and more friends began to take up the game as well.

Among them was my good friend, junior Bryce Kolthoff, who threw his first disc last summer and quickly fell in love. “It was an awesome experience. It was almost surreal, finding out that there was this activity that you could go do with your friends that was free, chill, and available at all times. Now, after playing all of last summer, I just think that there’s no better way to take advantage of the good weather. To me, it’s a great way to spend time with even greater people. It’s not overly strenuous — coming off my recent shoulder surgery, I’m really looking forward to this nice weather and disc golf because I can be active again without risking my still-healing shoulder,” Kolthoff said.

Discing is not only fun, it’s simple and easy for just about anyone to quickly get the hang of. Try playing with someone who is experienced, or even watch a few instructional Youtube videos, and with some practice you’ll soon be developing your own techniques to hear the ever-satisfying sound of rattling chains as you nail a shot.

“An aspect I find cool about disc golfing is that it’s such a diverse sport – anyone can play. Whether you’re young, old, athletic or not-so-athletic, you can still have a blast sending a disc down the fairway with your friends,” Kolthoff said.

A crucial component to disc golfing, naturally, is the discs. The plastic discs come in an overwhelming amount of styles ranging from distance drivers, fairway drivers, mid-range discs and putt/approach discs. For each of these classes, there are a ridiculous number of specific makes and variations. When a disc feels right, you’ll know. The wand chooses the wizard — I mean, the disc chooses the player. For example, my distance driver of choice is the Innova Star Boss, my fairway driver is the faithful Innova Tee-Bird and I prefer the sturdy Innova Pro Pig when it comes to putting.

Discs range roughly between $10-$20 in price. You truly only need a driver and putter to aptly play; when I started playing, I used nothing but a fairway driver. Walmart offers a convenient three-disc starter-pack, and Scheels has a wide variety of discs to choose from. Near the racks of discs, one can usually find charts with helpful information on picking the right disc.

Another important aspect of disc golfing is the course, of course (haha). Many have no idea of the terrific selection of local disc golf parks we have. Tourist Park, located near Main Street just across the river opposite the Ice House Museum, is a small, flat course that requires skillful navigation around trees. Located directly next to Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo at the corner of Park Road and Burton Avenue is the revered Exchange Park. With 27 holes, this massive course offers tons of dynamic challenges and excitement.

Located just off of Greenhill Road, between University Avenue and Highway 218, is what my friends and I like to think of as our home course — Valley View Park, otherwise known as Ghost Town Park. Making efficient use of the elevation changes and wide open spaces, this course is perfect for beginners and veterans alike. One of my close friends and fellow disc golf enthusiast, junior Cole Murphy, actually lives on the course — his house is situated at the end of Hole 6.

“My favorite part of disc golf is that it’s so fun to do with your friends, and it’s free to play. I live right next to the course, so whenever I have free time I can just go out and throw some discs. I also love being outside. Disc golfing is perfect when it’s a nice day. The whole time you’re playing, you’re also just kickin’ it with your friends. You’re having conversations the whole time, and it’s always just really fun. I think everyone should try it,” Murphy said.


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