A four-hole course was recently completed at Loma Vista Park in northwest Spokane as the city works to bring disc golf to local neighborhood parks as the sport continues to grow in popularity.
Each hole is actually a metal basket a few feet off the ground that players aim their discs toward. The four holes in Loma Vista are on the northern edge of the park.
“It allows some to use the outer perimeter of the park that isn’t utilized,” said Ryan Griffith, assistant recreation director for Spokane Parks and Recreation.
The minicourses are designed to appeal to children and newcomers in the sport. The local disc golf community has been pushing the city to add more courses, Griffith said.
“The disc golf community is very, very large and very passionate,” he said. “It’s certainly one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in the United States.”
The course at Loma Vista was paid for by donations from Windsor Plywood, the Aloha Island Grill and Spokane Public Schools, Griffiths said. The city also has received a $12,000 grant from the Spokane Parks Foundation to fund the creation for more minicourses in Spokane parks.
It’s an easy sport for people to get involved in, Griffith said. “It’s affordable,” he said. “This gives people an opportunity to go outside and have some fun.”
Erin Johnson, executive director of the U.S. Youth Disc Golf Association, is known as Coach Maka by his students. He said the new courses will be used by the youth disc golf league that includes nine local schools.
The sport is fully accessible to people like him who have back or knee problems, Johnson said, and also for kids with developmental disabilities or who are overweight. “It’s a nice low-impact sport,” he said. “They’re able to do something physical.”
The city has 18-hole disc golf courses at Downriver, High Bridge Park and Camp Sekani, but they are not meant for beginners. “They’re pro courses,” Johnson said. “They’re set up to be very difficult.”
Disc golf terminology will be familiar to anyone who has played golf. There are drivers, putters and woods. Discs are given different ratings depending on how well they float, how fast they go and whether they are balanced to go straight, veer left or veer right after being thrown.
Johnson demonstrated the proper technique recently with a deceptively simple flick of his wrist. It’s not always like throwing for distance like a Frisbee, he said. The discs can also be rolled on edge across the ground or tossed high in the air to rise over an obstacle.
“There’s a lot of ways to get the disc to where you want it to go,” he said. “Learning to control it is the key to this game.”
Johnson said his goal is to get his disc within a 10-foot radius of the hole. Getting a hole in one, called an ace, can be quite difficult.
There are rules that accompany each hole that can make play more difficult. There are mandatory rules, called mandos, that require the player to stay within a certain area. Arrows show which direction players should go. The course in Loma Vista begins on the east side and plays along the northern edge to the west, forcing players to throw through or around trees.
On a recent day Johnson brought his two sons to play and both floated and hooked their discs with ease. Eight-year-old Tully Johnson started tossing discs around when he was a year old.
“It’s a challenge,” Tully said when asked why he likes to play. “The trees are technically the challenge.”
The holes are a par 2 for an experienced adult or a par 4 for a beginning child. “We change the pars based on skill level,” Johnson said.
The course is near the park’s playground, so families can go to the park and bring kids of all ages.
“This is something that can really bring a family together,” Johnson said. “It’s a very healthy habit and a life sport.”
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