Disc golf takes off in City Park

Whirling discs of color dot the sky, coasting through tree branches and falling gracefully, smoothly, to the ground or, if players are lucky or skillful, into baskets at Detroit Lakes City Park.

Whirling discs of color dot the sky, coasting through tree branches and falling gracefully, smoothly, to the ground or, if players are lucky or skillful, into baskets at Detroit Lakes City Park.

With the advent of spring and the coming of summer, the "frolf" links at the park are heating up. It's a great way to get some exercise, enjoy the fresh air, and have some fun, in groups or alone. The game is great for families because all you need to be able to do is toss a disc.

"The great thing about this is the simplicity," said 18-year-old Izzy Stein of Detroit Lakes, who was playing the city park course with a group of friends. A self-described avid disc golf player, Stein had to think a moment when asked what the group likes about the game.

"Some people go to church, some people go to synagogues," he said. "This is our sanctuary."

Nick Solmon, 18, said he's been playing for about four years. He said it was "like a coming of age thing, to go play disc with the big dogs."


Most of the holes on the course are par 3, with the fifth hole at a par 4. In layman's terms, this means it should take three throws or less to make the par 3 holes and four throws or less to make par 4.

"I just started playing a couple years ago with a friend," said Adam Schmit, 22. "It's free. I think it's fun, it's in a nice spot in town. The big thing is you don't have to pay... Anyone can do it." And it's good exercise, he added.

"I used to play regular golf," Schmit said, "but it got too expensive. I enjoy it more than golf because I don't get as mad about losing a ball." Schmit added that most players play the course with par 3 on all holes.

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association website, the DL course was established in 1988 and last modified in 2004. Signs at each concrete tee give information on distance from tee to basket, par, and the basket location.

The course starts near the south end of the parking lot, circles the east area of the park, and ends close to the first hole, completing a circuit of the east side of the park.

All you need to play the game is a disc, which can be purchased at sporting goods stores like Lakes Sport Shop, or larger discs can be purchased at Wal-Mart. Disc prices range from $5.99 to $24.99 at online sites, but Lakes Sport Shop in DL carries Discraft discs in a range of drivers and putters. Used discs can be purchased at stores like Play It Again Sports in Fargo or St. Cloud.

If you can't make it to an established course, you can create your own "object" course. Instead of throwing your disc toward a basket, you can create targets with items around you, such as a tree or pole. Use chalk to draw a target on the object and aim for that.

Courses can be found around the world. Minnesota is the third-ranked state in the U.S., with 107 courses, according to PDGA statistics for 2006. Area courses include the Detroit Lake City Park, Rainbow Resort in Waubun, McGrath Park in Barnesville, Sunnybrook Park in Wadena, Woodlawn Park in Moorhead and Oak Grove Park in Fargo.


Good websites for beginners include , the website for a store in Golden Valley. The website has a section devoted to discs for beginners, as well as tips on different types of throws. The Minnesota Frisbee Association's website ( ) includes unofficial rules and tips on throwing.

The best course directory is offered at the website of the Professional Disc Golf Association at . The directory offers a brief description of the course, number of holes, tee type, course length, and directions to the course. This website also has official tournament rules and listings of disc golf tournaments.

Disc golf, Frisbee golf, or "frolf" has been around in some form for years, according to the Disc Golf Association website. "Steady" Ed Headrick, known as the "father of disc golf," formalized the sport in 1975, when he created the disc hole pole. The first formal course was established that year in Pasadena, Calif. Headrick was also the founder of the Professional Disc Golf Association.

The Professional Disc Golf Association has grown from 3,904 members in 1996 to 10,153 members in July of 2006. The number of amateur players is even higher, with the estimated number of disc golfers over 500,000. It is estimated that between 8 and 12 million people have played the sport since 1975.

John Beaton, 17, summed up disc golf best before returning to his game.

"Throwing disc," he said, "is like a walk in the park."

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