Rewind two years when the world collectively sought alternatives to binge-watching, Zoom-meeting and TikTok-ing during the lockdown stage of the pandemic.
With gyms shuttered and playgrounds cordoned by caution tape, we all wanted – needed – to get out and play, to sample new adventures and realign our recreational activities.
One sport, its fuse already lit due to steady growth in the past decade, exploded like a grand finale in the summer sky.
But disc golf enthusiasts hope their sport’s popularity sustains itself in a post-vaccination world. So far, so good and, ironically, another otherwise villain entered the picture in 2022 to top off the fuel tank during disc golf’s surge: inflation.
“The biggest draw for me is its very casual, it’s very cheap,” says Dan Howard, a disc-golfer from Sugar Grove, before rattling off more benefits. “You can buy a set of discs and you’re ready to go. There’s no greens fees. You can do it on a spur of the moment. You don’t need a tee time.”
Officials at the Fox Valley Park District have seen a noticeable uptick in rounds played at the Jericho Lake Park Disc Golf Course, which in 2021 was renovated to counter flooding issues on several holes of the original layout.
Aaron Reinhart, the District’s athletic turf manager, likens the new “back 9” to more of a links-style course (in traditional golf lingo) with fescue and native prairie throughout, compared to the front side, which features mature trees, the winding Blackberry Creek and plenty of shade.
“It’s two completely different experiences, different challenges, which I think is a nice draw,” said Reinhart during a recent tour of the new layout. “It’s like playing real golf at a hard course back here. You really have to pick and choose; you really have to place your shots to maximize your chances on the next one.”
But the course – both nines – is also conducive to beginners. The Jericho course measures 4,205 feet from the red tees (amateur) and 5,293 from the yellow (pro). Each hole features concrete tee pads to launch and hip-high, pole-mounted baskets with cages as the disc’s ultimate destination.
Dan Howard has played “hundreds of rounds” at Jericho and also serves as a community course manager for UDisc, an app for scorekeeping, statistics, league play information, course discovery and more.
To better illustrate the sport’s boom, look no further than UDisc’s 2022 Disc Golf Growth Report.
- There are more than 13,300 disc golf courses worldwide, including nearly 9,000 in the U.S.
- 28 new courses are built per day
- More than 17.2 million rounds were scored on UDisc in 2021
First introduced in the mid-1970s, disc golf exploded from 2010-2020, when 71% of courses worldwide were built. Courses have popped up on college campuses, traditional golf courses, ski areas and even breweries and wineries.
“My perspective is start with what you have,” Howard says. “You don’t need to go make an investment if you’ve got a Wham-O frisbee or something like that. Just go play with it. You’re not going to get the distance, but you’ll get the beginnings of the experience.
“I just really like to get outside and enjoy nature. It’s a fun way to get some exercise and when you bring some friends, there’s a neat social aspect to it, too.”
For more information on disc golf at the Fox Valley Park District, visit foxvalleyparkdistrict.org/parks-trails/disc-golf/ or stop by the Jericho Lake Park Disc Golf Course, located at Jericho and Barnes roads in Montgomery, and give it a try!