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By Shauna McVey
Any disc golf enthusiast will tell you it’s a great game. No clubs are required, you don’t need a caddie or an electric cart, you can play alone or with a group, and you don’t have to wear funny pants. Playing disc golf on our courses is a great way to exercise, have fun and enjoy the outdoors.
The best way to play the game is on a designated 18-hole disc golf course, and we have seven in Delaware State Parks: Bellevue, Brandywine Creek, Cape Henlopen, Killens Pond, Lums Pond, Trap Pond and White Clay Creek. Each course is unique. According to testimony from disc golfers across the country, the Delaware State Parks system has some of the best disc golf courses in the nation.
“The topography of each state park is different, and so each disc golf course has a different personality,” said Jenn Cable, an amateur champion and Secretary of the Delaware Disc Golf organization. “Brandywine Creek State Park is a wide-open course through beautiful, lush green rolling hills; the course at White Clay is beginner friendly; Killens Pond and Lums Pond have wooded courses; and the course at Cape Henlopen is near the Great Dune. I believe it may be the only course in the nation where you can step off the course and walk directly onto the beach.”
Disc golf, like regular golf, is scored by counting the number of throws to complete each round. Instead of placing a ball into a hole, the disc golfer throws the disc into a basket. The lowest scorer, the player with the fewest throws it takes to get the disc in the basket, throws first on the next round.
The discs used in the game are small and thick, and a player may use several types of discs when playing a round. A driver disc is often thrown first from the tee-off – it has the sharpest profile, the mass is on the outside, it’s hard to control and it sails the farthest distance. On the next throw, a player might use a mid-range disc that glides nicely and is easier to control. Near the basket, the player will use a putter disc which is thicker, has a dull edge and is much more accurate.
“Sometimes the type of throw you use depends on which way you want the disc to curve to reach the basket,” Cable said. “The farthest distance a thrown disc can travel varies greatly from player to player, depending on technique, body type and strength.”
We spoke with group of Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) members who were playing at the Killens Pond State Park course, most of them for the first time. Skill levels varied but all of the players seemed to be having a good time.
“This game combines Frisbee® and golf, for me, two very trying sports,” said YCC member Jeremy Deputy.
Logan Thawley, another YCC member, said throwing a disc feels weird at first. “The discs are a little bit heavier, and a little bit harder to grip and throw than a regular Frisbee®,” he said.
“I like watching the disc fly through the air,” said Nick Wright of YCC. “This is the most fun game we played all summer.”
Cable, who loves to play disc gold with her 65-year-old mother, said disc golf is a game you can play from age 5 until well into retirement.
“Don’t worry about the score when you first start playing disc golf,” Cable said. “At Delaware Disc Golf, we are always reaching out to more diverse populations, encouraging the sport. I started playing about eight years ago, and I just fell in love with the game and the disc golf community.”
Shauna McVey is the community affairs coordinator with the Division of Parks and Recreation.
A version of this article appeared in the spring 2020 issue of Outdoor Delaware and has been updated.