Family Fun by Laura Churchill Duke: Disc golf a new trend hitting the Valley

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Laura Churchill Duke
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Zane Ansara, nine, gets some tips on the disc golf course in Lockhart Ryan Park in New Minas from his father, John. 

Have you ever heard of disc golf? Neither had I! Apparently, it is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in North America. It’s low impact and low cost, appeals to a wide variety of ages and is just really fun to do!

Disc golf is a game much like regular golf, but played with flying discs and targets. The goal of the game is to throw your disc from the “tee” and hit your target in the required number of strokes (par).

Director of recreation for the Village of New Minas, John Ansara, explains how the game is played.

“The discs are heavier than your normal Frisbee and designed to fly in different ways,” he says. 

For instance, like golf, there are drivers, mid-ranges and putters, all with different flight characteristics. Targets can be anything from trees to tone poles, but most commonly, the sport is played using chained baskets. A hole is completed when the disc hits the chains and drops into the basket. 

“Where the sport is similar to golf,” says Brian Orde, recreation co-ordinator for the County of Annapolis, “is that courses are usually set up with 18 holes like in golf. There are also pars for each hole.”

Disc golf is very much like regular golf in that it can be very hard at first, and definitely takes a few throws to master. Allow for some trial and error.

“What’s cool about the discs,” says Ansara, “is the discs can be thrown at different angles, enabling them to curve around objects or turn sharply towards the goal.” 

Located in Lockhart Ryan Park, New Minas is home to the only permanent disc golf course in the Valley.

 

Anyone can play and also borrow discs for free from the recreation department, which is located in the Louis Millet Community Complex (LMCC). 

“If you visit on evenings or weekends, you just need to find the custodian on duty at the LMCC and he or she will sign you out some discs and give you a course map,” says Ansara. If available, Ansara will also come out to give you a private lesson and some pointers.

Disc golf can be enjoyed by all ages.

“I usually suggest to families to not keep score their first few times out and just try to throw the discs as straight as possible, but most importantly, just have some fun,” says Ansara. He suggests they play a format known as ‘best disc’ (similar to ‘best ball’ in golf) where they team up in pairs and throw from the disc of the ‘best shot’ between the two until one of them hits the basket.

Children as young as five can enjoy disc golf. The discs, however, are heavy. When playing with younger children, start by playing closer to the target and don’t do the entire course. 

“I’d say kids aged seven and up can really enjoy playing a round,” says Ansara. 

“We are currently working on adding beginner tee boxes to most of the holes too, to make it more accessible to the younger audience.”

Annapolis County owns a portable disc golf set and often puts on workshops.

“With the portable units we have,” says Orde, “you could set up a course on a regular golf course if you had permission.”

Check in with the recreation department to find out what is possible.

All in all, disc golf is a great way to get out and walk the park, enjoy nature and get a little exercise with your family at the same time!

Laura Churchill Duke (www.valleyfamilyfun.ca) was inspired by writing this article and took her family to play disc golf. Everyone enjoyed it, but it will take her a few times to perfect her game! 

Geographic location: North America, Annapolis County, Village of New Minas Lockhart Ryan Park

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