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Sport of Disc Golf growing in popularity in Nova Scotia

Ready, aim, fire! Disc Golf is quickly growing in popularity in Nova Scotia, with courses available in New Minas, Windsor and Hammonds Plains.
Ready, aim, fire! Disc Golf is quickly growing in popularity in Nova Scotia, with courses available in New Minas, Windsor and Hammonds Plains. - Contributed

‘A walk in the woods with a purpose’

Have you ever seen small groups of people of all ages in the woods of a park in your area throwing what looks like a frisbee at a metal basket?

Well, it might not be a frisbee. They could be playing disc golf - a sport that’s gaining popularity all over the Maritimes.

Disc golf is considered a relatively new sport in this region but has become a recognized sport across the US and in major centres across Canada, including Toronto and Montreal.

In recent years, about 10 courses have been designed and built in Nova Scotia, including courses in Hammonds Plains, Windsor and New Minas.

John Ansara is the director of recreation and community development for the Village of New Minas, which opened its own 18-hole disc golf course in 2012 in Lockhart Ryan Park.

Disc Golf is attracting new players of all ages at courses in Hammonds Plains, Windsor and New Minas.
Disc Golf is attracting new players of all ages at courses in Hammonds Plains, Windsor and New Minas.

During an interview, Ansara said the basics of disc golf are similar to those of ball golf. However, instead of hitting a ball into a cup, participants throw a disc into a chained stainless-steel basket mounted in the ground.

It’s not uncommon to see a disc golfer with a bag of 12 to 20 discs. Each disc will be used for different situations because they bend in different ways. They are used instead of putters, drivers and midrange clubs.

The plastic discs are smaller and denser than a regular frisbee, weighing between 150 and 175 grams. They are also designed to fly further.

“The discs curve dramatically,” Ansara said.

“You are constantly deciding how to get around different trees and down certain lines in the course.”

Disc Golfers throw a specially-designed disc, similar to a Frisbee, into a chained stainless-steel basket mounted in the ground.
Disc Golfers throw a specially-designed disc, similar to a Frisbee, into a chained stainless-steel basket mounted in the ground.

Ansara said the course was much cheaper to design and build than many other types of recreational facilities. It also appeals to players of all ages, from children and students up to seniors.

As a recreation director, Ansara is especially happy to see many people on the course who have never played another sport.

“It gets people out and active that might not find themselves out and active in a park,” he said.

Disc golf is usually played between May and November. However, you can play disc golf all year round. If you go to Lockhart Ryan Park in the dead of winter on one of the coldest days, there is a good chance you will still see disc golfers playing, according to Ansara.

A course in Hammonds Plains even puts lights on the discs and on the basket so participants can play after dark.

There is no charge to play the course in New Minas and players can borrow discs.

“Anyone can come by and sign out some discs,” Ansara said.

“We will give them a course map, and they are able to play.”

‘Low-cost, easy entry sport’

Popularity is growing for Disc Golf in Nova Scotia.
Popularity is growing for Disc Golf in Nova Scotia.

David Gillett is a disc golf course designer and event organizer who was an avid ball golfer at one time. He says disc golf appealed to him because it is easily accessible.

“What attracted me away from ball golf to disc golf is that disc golf is a very low-cost, easy entry sport. You only need one disc to begin playing, which will cost at most $20. And all courses in Nova Scotia are free to play. There are no tee times and no clubhouses. They are usually in municipally-maintained parks,” Gillett said.

“It’s the freedom of being able to walk on the course when you want and enjoy a low-cost form of outdoor exercise.”

Gillett and other disc golfers from the Hammonds Plains club have organized a weekly competitive league at the Clifton House in Windsor every Sunday morning in November and December from 9-11 a.m. Those events are sanctioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), the governing body for disc golf in North America.

Gillett said the sanctioned play gives players a little more legitimacy.

“It contributes to your rating, which is akin to a handicap. It’s more of an official league than your typical club league after work,” he said.

The design and development of the course and the league play in Windsor is part of an effort to attract new players to the sport.

There is no registration required for the events at the Clifton House, and play is open to all ages and all skill levels. There is a simple $5 buy in each day. New players can make arrangements to borrow equipment by contacting the Hammonds Plains Disc Golf Club through its Facebook page.

“I encourage everybody to get out and try it because there is such a low bar to entry, and it is a very fun and social sport. It’s a walk in the woods with a purpose,” Gillette said.

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