Disc golf has been a popular pastime in many parts of the world for several decades, but having brought the sport to the Isle of Wight far more recently, a group of enthusiasts are looking for enough space to allow it grow in size and popularity.
Basically disc golf is all about throwing frisbees around a course, and ending up by getting them into the ‘holes’, which in this sport are cleverly created baskets with chains hanging down through them, to help the frisbee drop in.
Work partners Dave Stevens and Jon Schalkwyk were the Island’s disc golf pioneers some five years ago, and a small group was soon formed. Jon said: “I was travelling in the United States, and had never heard of the sport. Then a few people said I should try it, and I absolutely loved it.
“It is very popular on the West Coast of the US. It started in the mid-1960s, and there are now hundreds of courses. It is a great social sport, and has spread to many other parts of the world, including the UK mainland, where there are now around 40 courses. I always felt it would be great to bring it to the Island and I persuaded Dave to give it a go.”
Dave admitted: “I wasn’t sure at first. But once I realised there were targets to aim at, rather than just throw a frisbee like you might on the beach, I became addicted.”
The main problem for those who play at present, is finding enough space to expand the game, and increase membership. They are currently using a temporary area near Newchurch, which includes woodland to make it even more technical and testing.
Ideally they are looking for a 10 to 15-acre site, and insist: “Our first rule is safety; wherever you play disc golfers give away to the public, and if it is a wooded area we send ‘spotters’ out ahead of us. We cause absolutely no harm to the environment, and afterwards everything is removed, and left just as we found it.”
Disc golf is not played with your normal run-of-the-mill frisbee. A full set comprises different weights for distance or accuracy; similar to a set of golf clubs, which range from driver to putter. Disc golf par three holes are normally around 60 metres in length, while par fives are pushing close to 200 metres.
Dave is quick to point out: “It is a totally different game to golf. It is an easy-going sport, and we pay a small fee each, that just helps us to increase our number of lightweight, portable baskets, which cost around £150 apiece. Permanent, more sophisticated ones, do cost considerably more.”
Dave and Jon would like to hear from anyone who may have land available, so they can develop the sport on the Island, and even introduce it into schools. Anyone who has a space where disc golf could be played can contact Dave by email: [email protected]
By Peter White