New course in Freeport offers outdoor fun for the entire family
No, those aren’t UFOs you are seeing flying through the air at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex. It’s the game of disc golf being played on a newly installed course called Dragon Chain.
You might not even notice the elevated metal-chained targets dotted across the landscape of the complex. That is, until you hear someone make a shot into the basket with the sound of CHING! The sound heard when a disc hits its target is unmistakable. It’s then when you realize this game is much more than tossing a Frisbee.
Disc golf is a relatively new sport popularized during the Frisbee craze of the late 60s and early 70s. However, according to the Professional Disk Golf Association, the history of disc golf pre dates the plastic flying discs. The first known instance of anyone playing golf with a flying disc occurred in Vancouver BC in 1926. A group of school age kids played a game with tin lids, which they dubbed Tin Lid Golf.
It is a simple game played very much the same as traditional golf using some of the same terminology. Instead of clubs and balls you throw a flying disc from the tee and throw again from where your shot landed until you complete the hole by “holing out” landing your shot in the metal target basket. Most courses are 18 holes like traditional golf courses. Discs are made in three categories: drivers for distance, mid-range discs and approach and putter discs.
Yet, disc golf is much more affordable than traditional golf, with a basic set of discs running about $35 and as most courses located in public parks, no greens fees. The courses are eco friendly as well, leaving little impact on the environment. Since the courses are located in natural wooded areas, the game offers a bit of a challenge, as there are no straight shots from the tee to basket.
Disc golf arrived in Freeport when the city of Freeport and Walton County gave the game a chance by approving and funding an 18-hole tournament-ready disc golf course at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex at Hammock Bay.
With the help of former professional ball golfer, park director Shane Supple and experienced disc golf course designer and Professional Disc Golf Association member, Johnny King from Destin designed and installed the course.
Getting into the sport:
The fun, addictive sport of disc golf has various types of players. Some take it up as a leisurely way to spend the day outdoors with family, while other players join clubs and enjoy the sport more competitively by playing tournaments. There is even a professional player circuit.
The game has gained popularity quickly at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex. Folks can be found throwing discs most any time of the day. Click here for map.
Greg Free of Freeport scoffed at his friend Shane Supple when he spotted the installation of the course at Freeport Regional Sports Complex.
“Who’s going to play that,” Greg said, “it can’t be all that hard.”
It didn’t take Greg long to get hooked on the game after following a pro player around the course one afternoon. Two weeks later, Greg, his wife and two children now play every chance they get. Within the first two weeks, Greg purchased a set of discs for everyone in the family.
“I played 18 holes on Friday and 36 holes on Sunday,” Greg exclaimed.
Freeport Regional Sports Complex director Shane Supple hopes to bring in visitors from out of state to compete in tournaments.
On Saturday, May 14th, players from all over the Southeast will travel to the area to compete in the tournament hosted by Eat Sleep Disc, an event promoter from Birmingham, Ala. and presented by Key Chains Bike & Disc in Ft. Walton Beach. To register, click here.
“Participants have come in from Mobile, Birmingham and New Orleans to compete, Shane said.
Where to score discs:
Ronda Key of Key Chains Bike and Discs in Fort Walton Beach has been selling golf discs for the last two years. After starting to play a few years ago, she realized it was a great way to spend time with her family outdoors.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are. I play with my mom and 10-year-old niece, Ronda said.
Key Chains Bike and Discs carries a large inventory of discs from manufacturers such as Innova, Discraft, DGA, CHING, Gateway, ABC and Lightning. The store also carries accessories such as disc carrying bags.
Ronda is a member and officer of the Playground Disc Golf Club. The club plays at a course at Ferry Park in Fort Walton Beach and at Freeport Regional Sports Complex.
In addition to events, the Playground hosts a weekly “Fling For Food” at 5 p.m. every Thursday at Ferry Park in Fort Walton Beach. Admission is 3 cans of food or $3.00, with proceeds going to local food banks.
For more information about Key Chains Bike and Discs, go to: keychainsbikedisc.com
For more information on local upcoming events and clubs, go to: Playground Disc Golf at: www.playgrounddiscgolf.com
Emerald Coast Disc Golf for Pensacola area info at: www.ecdgc.com
Mango Disc Golf at: www.mangodiscgolf.com
Johnny King contributed to this story.