As a child, outside games included standing in the yard tossing a lightweight flying disc known as a Frisbee back and forth to each other. After a few rounds of throwing, catching and dodging, the disc would end up on the roof of someone's house or crunched under the wheels of a passing car. Today, that same flying disc has been streamlined and is being embraced by a new generation, not as a toy, but as the popular competitive sport of disc golf.
Disc golf is played the same as the traditional game of golf but clubs or balls are not required. As in regular golf, the purpose of the game is to complete each hole with the fewest number of strokes or tosses. The “hole” in this case is not in the ground; it is an elevated metal pole with an attached basket that catches the disc.
Because of the booming popularity of this outdoor sport, new disc golf courses have been built in three Oklahoma state parks and are now open for play.
At Lake Eufaula State Park near Checotah, the nine-hole course at Hummingbird Beach is described as challenging because of the diverse play areas.
“Most courses are built where it's very open and easy to maneuver,” explains Glen Neal, a park employee who, along with J.D. Ridge, helped design the course. “At this course, the obstacles are areas of thick trees, brush and tight fairways that can really test your playing skills.”
In addition to baskets placed strategically among the trees, there are numerous doglegs, winding fairways and out-of-bounds tallgrass roughs.
At Natural Falls State Park near West Siloam Springs, there are 18 holes; but because of the separate locations of the front and back nine, each offers a different playing experience. The front nine, described as easy, are located adjacent to the paved Pine Ridge walking trail in a smooth, shortgrass open area of the park. However, beyond the bridge that overlooks the picturesque waterfall, players will encounter a completely unique situation on the back nine. Here, the course follows along the path of the Ghost Coon Trail and brings you to a prairie-type setting with tall grasses and field timber. Because of doglegs, hills and grassy rough areas, this part of the course is described as moderate to challenging.
The latest course to be completed is at Sequoyah State Park near Wagoner. Located in the Cherokee Area of the park, the nine-hole course was built near the old airstrip. A parking lot is adjacent making it easily accessible for players. The fairly open course is described as moderate because of elevated and downhill play areas, doglegs and winding fairways.
“People found out we were building the disc course and we had phone calls from players wanting to come out before it was even finished,” said Park Manager Tony Presley. “We're still in the process of getting our markers up but we're open.”
A unique environmentally friendly concept at each of these courses is the equipment they use. Instead of target baskets with metal frames that other courses offer, the baskets in the state parks are made from recycled tires, manufactured by an Oklahoma vendor.
Tee times are not required and the courses are open year-round to players of all ages. Players are encouraged to bring their own discs. Discs are sold at Lake Eufaula and available for rent at Natural Falls. There is no charge to play at the state park disc golf courses, but Natural Falls State Park charges a day-use fee of $4 to enter the park. Each park offers campgrounds and a lodge and cabins are available at Sequoyah.
“You get to spend time outdoors and be active,” said avid disc golfer Scott Shumsky. “And it's an inexpensive sport so you can afford to bring the family and spend quality time together.”
For more information on the parks where the disc courses are located or for other state park information visit TravelOk.com.