Friday afternoon. The 5 o’clock whistle blows, and I’m putting on my jacket. My boss yells out, “Have a great weekend! What do you have planned?” I yell back, “Hitting the disc golf course for a few rounds!”
“Disc golf? Huh?”
I poke my head into his office and start to explain. “It’s a combination of ball golf, frisbee, and hiking, and there are courses all around Northeastern PA.” Of course, he wants more details, so I take off my jacket, pull up a chair, and realize that I won’t be playing that evening.
So what is disc golf, or “frolf,” as some call it? If you know how to play ball golf — the game with clubs and a ball where you have to hit the ball into the hole — then you are already familiar with disc golf. The rules are the same, only the equipment is different. In disc golf, you throw a frisbee-looking thing, a disc, into a basket, not a hole. Chains hang from the top of the basket to “catch” the disc and drop it into the basket. The player needs to get the disc into the basket with the least number of throws, just like a golfer seeks to minimize his number of swings.
There are different kinds of discs, too, just like the assortment of clubs available in ball golf. You have your drivers that fly farther, your mid-range discs, and, of course, your putters. And each disc flies differently. Some fly straighter and then “fade” fast left at the end of flight. Some simply sail straight and drop, and some fly straight, then “turn” right towards the end of flight. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that they look so cool when they wing their way through the air. There’s something therapeutic about watching a disc soar, especially when the familiar “ching” rings out when it hits those chains.
Disc golf courses are located all around Northeastern Pennsylvania. Most are free to play, not even requiring a “tee time.” The one I play most, my “home course,” can be found at the Francis E. Walter Dam in Lake Harmony. Hickory Run State Park is home to a beautiful 19-hole course, and Prompton Dam State Park offers a gorgeous 18-hole as well. I particularly like a course that mixes up the basket locations, placing some in wide open “fairways,” and others deep in the woods, where you have to throw your discs through, around, and between trees. Those are our sand traps.
I can’t explain the serenity of getting up early in the morning, and getting to one of these fields of play as the sun rises. The smell of the forest, the sounds of the birds, the peace and solitude of “getting away from it all,” and, of course, the yelling and screaming of my friends when our discs smash into a tree causing that ever-so-distinct thud sound to echo through the air.
If you’d like to find out more about this growing sport, you can always do an internet search, or check out www.discgolfcourses.org for all the local courses near you.
Hopefully we’ll see ya in the woods!