Disk golf is a laid back walk in the park

Staff writer

It’s been something of a dull summer, with there being no tournaments and all; but Jacob Bruntz is still winging discs around Peabody City Park, taking part in a sport that’s become a statewide fad.

Bruntz plays disc golf with a few of the dozen or so course regulars, he said, three or four times a week. Some of them he actually met on the disc golf course.

“It’s the friendliest community sport I’ve been involved in,” Bruntz said.

This particular Saturday, Bruntz and his wife, Casey, rendezvoused with his co-worker Zach Peterson, and their disc golf friends Mickey Tibbetts and Becky Larsen, as well as one reporter completely new to the sport, who they insisted they might as well “drag around.”

Disc golf is essentially a hybrid of golf and Frisbee. Like golf clubs, there are different discs designed for different distances. As in golf, there are three basic types of discs, long range (drivers), mid-range, and short range (putters) discs. Players will carry anywhere from 10 to 20 different discs in their bag at a tournament — and one baseball.

“You can’t get a disc out of a tree with another disc,” Tibbetts explained.

Peabody City Park has hosted two tournaments in each of the previous two summers, Bruntz said, but this summer Bruntz has had to either play casually or head out of town for tournaments, which are usually hosted by the Kansas Disc Golf Association. Bruntz said Peabody City Park houses one of more than 125 courses statewide.

The discs vary in weight, texture, and material. On average, they are smaller and harder than traditional throwing discs. They are not for playing catch.

“We made the mistake of trying to play catch with them when we were first starting out,” Bruntz said. “We quickly realized that was not a good idea.”

Bruntz remembered one tournament at which a player was knocked unconscious by an errant disc.

Disc golf courses may consist of any number of holes, though nine- and 18-hole courses are traditional. The Peabody course is nine holes.

The “holes” on the course are metal baskets a couple feet wide that are elevated a few feet off the ground, with chains suspended above the basket to slow the disc and catch it.

With most courses open to the public to play free of charge, players sometimes take freedoms they wouldn’t with a traditional golf course. For variety, Bruntz and his cohorts will often play nine holes, and then play the course “backward,” going from one tee box to the previous hole’s basket.

“It’s really one of the more open-ended sports there is,” he said.

Bruntz said starter kits for disc golf cost anywhere from $15 to $50, and tournaments, which cost between $10 and $25 to enter, will often give participants free discs and other merchandise, making it one of the cheapest sports to play.

Bruntz said he wishes the city would do more to promote its disc golf course.

“It’s a great game, and not many people here know that we have a course,” he said.

Tournaments, publicized by KDGA, bring in 50 to 60 players, most of whom are from out-of-town. Many out-of-towners casually play the course, which is registered on www.dgcoursereview.com, where it has a three out of five rating. Bruntz said the city would do well to promote its businesses at the course.

“That’s a lot of people coming into town that need to eat.”

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