Go ahead and give disc golf a good throw

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disc golf
Disc golf is growing in popularity and new courses are popping up across the country. (Julie Geiss photo)

With the rise of online schooling and social media apps to talk to friends, my husband and I have been facing a conundrum related to our kids and screen time. While schooling and communicating are necessary for them, there are other times they are just playing games or watching videos.

Our children have the entire digital world available to them at any given time, if we allow it. In a digital black hole, minutes add up into hours quickly and the accumulated time looking at screens is not beneficial for their development. Our solution is to put parameters in place and to spend time outdoors as a family.

Naturally, we’ve done our favorite things like hiking, biking, and camping. However, we made a point to try new things as well. One activity we found enjoyable for our whole family is disc golf. Our most recent trip was close to home at the Mill Creek MetroPark farm in Canfield.

Instead of the digital world at their fingertips, they had a variety of polypropylene golf discs resting in their hands. The game has similar rules to traditional golf; most importantly, the lowest score wins.

We started out at the tees which were color-coded red and green. Red was slightly farther away making it more difficult. I was excited to see that we could make accommodations for the age and ability differences in our family. The object is to get the disc to the target in the least amount of throws.

When we started the first hole, I could see a metal pole with an attached basket in the distance. I pictured us leisurely enjoying the beautiful landscape and slowly progressing along the course. While I attempted to watch butterflies in the wildflowers, my boys turned our game into an interesting combination of footrace and disc golf. It appeared to matter to them who got the lowest score the fastest.

In contrast, most people relish the time spent at each hole making calculated throws. I didn’t mind the fast pace as long as they were enjoying themselves outside instead of looking at a screen. The course progressed around the lake and into the woods. The change in landscape made the game technically challenging and interesting at the same time.

Mill Creek MetroPark Farm created two courses in 2019 with funding from an ODNR grant. The front course we played on was the beginner course. Each hole is a par 3 and ideal for learning how to play disc golf. The walk to the championship course is longer past the hike and bike trail.

The 18 hole championship course is a more challenging par 60 course that covers 6,000 feet. This course also has a variety of landscapes with the majority of it taking place in a wooded area. I enjoyed that we were able to catch glimpses of the MetroPark Farm animals and crops as we walked along toward the course.

Both courses contain pond obstacles that made certain holes more difficult and in my opinion more beautiful. While I thought they were aesthetically pleasing, I really didn’t want to go into a lake to retrieve a disc. Luckily, we were able to avoid the ponds and the penalty point for going out of bounds.

My luck did eventually run out when I was stung by a ground bee. Next time, I will replace my sandals with sneakers.

An added appeal for us was that the course is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk. Directions, maps, and score cards are provided by the park to use on the course but not discs. We found our discs at a variety of sources such as garage sales, thrift stores and online vendors. Like traditional golf, different discs are designed to be used throughout the game for varying lengths such as distance drivers, fairway drivers, midrangers and putters. The midrange disc seems to be the best fit for beginners wanting to purchase just one disc. It is less technical and comfortable to hold for the beginner.

Disc golf is growing in popularity and new courses are popping up across the country. We also played at Mosquito Lake in Trumbull County this summer. I would much rather see my kids’ eyes searching across the meadow for their discs instead of the creepy stare that has become synonymous with 2020.

With 6,000 feet to cover in the game, there’s social distancing built into the activity. Go ahead, give it a good throw.

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Julie Geiss lives with her husband and four children in Unity Township, Ohio. Faith and family are first in her life, but she also loves hiking, biking and camping. You can contact Julie at juliegeiss1414@gmail.com.

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