The new fling in town
Sparkman Park's disc golf course is a different way to play
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Visitors to Sparkman Park might have recently noticed the metal baskets and concrete boxes littering the park grounds and wondered what they were and why exactly they were there.
The secret is out – they're a course for a sport called disc golf, a combination of Frisbee throwing and golfing.
"This is a good game because anybody can show up and play," local disc golf aficionado Josh Lenox said. "It's just like regular golf except you throw Frisbees. It's a harder game than it looks, though."
Much like regular golf, the objective of disc golf is to get the disc from the tee box to the basket in the shortest number of throws, or strokes. The hole opens with a long throw called a drive and ends with a short throw from close to the basket, called a putt.
The basket is held up by a metal pole surrounded by chains, which "catch" the disc and allow it to fall into the basket. All the holes on Hartselle's 13-hole course are a par-3, so on average it will take a disc golfer three shots to get the disc from the tee box into the basket.
After making his or her opening drive throw, the disc golfer then marks where the initial disc landed and throws the second shot from that point. Golfers are allowed to take one step past the lie of their disc, except on putts (shots where the disc is 10 meters or less from the basket) where they must keep their feet entirely behind their lie at all times.
Disc golf is a game that appeals to all levels of skill. Amateurs can use one disc for all shots, but professionals typically have three varieties of disc – one for the long drive, one for medium shots and one for the shorter putts. The driver disc is thinner and has less of a rim, allowing for distance, while the putter disc is thicker and more like a Frisbee, allowing for accuracy.
The holes on Hartselle's course range in distance from around 200 feet to more than 400 feet, making the course an average difficulty for a recreational course. Courses built for professionals typically have hole lengths ranging from 500 feet and longer.
The current course record at the Sparkman Park course is 7-under par, held by professional Dean Tanner.
"A really good professional can easily do a backhand drive of 450 feet or more," Lenox said. "So this is more of a course built to appeal to the amateur and people who only play for fun."
Due to its park setting, Hartselle's course has several obstacles in the form of trees and hills. It also has several ground rules and out-of-bounds areas, such as the creek bed and walking path.
Effective disc golfers are able to use various throws to put spin on the disc and curve it around these obstacles. If a golfer throws the disc to the basket in one stroke, it is called an ace or hole-in-one. As of June, only one ace has been witnessed at the Sparkman Park course.
Currently, the Hartselle course has just 13 holes, which were installed in January of this year. The remaining five holes will be added once it is determined where they will be placed on the course.
While there is no organized city league for disc golf at this time, there is an impromptu doubles tournament every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Novice golfers are paired with a more experienced golfer and discs are provided for those who do not have their own. A local tournament is also scheduled for July 15.