GREATER AKRON — For those seeking outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, disc golf is quickly becoming a popular choice for area residents.
Lindsay Smith, marketing and public relations manager for Summit Metro Parks, described disc golf as “similar to golf, where players begin at a concrete tee and throw a disc toward a basket.”
“They throw the disc from where it lands as they continue to get closer, until they are able to get it directly into the basket,” she said. “The person or team with the lowest score wins.”
There are numerous reasons for newcomers to take up the sport, said Dave Ernst, vice president of the Summit County Disc Golf Association.
“You’re outdoors, which I love. You’re walking through the woods or around the water, and there’s so much to look at,” he said. “It’s great exercise. And the people are amazing. We have leagues where the people are very friendly and try to help everyone get better. Getting into leagues is very beginner-friendly. The best place to find out more about leagues is discgolfscene.com.”
One of the top selling points for disc golf, Ernst said, is the low cost to play.
“It’s very inexpensive to start,” he said. “You can start with one disc, and you can get it as cheap as $3 if you buy it used. That’s all you need to start. After that you can build up your technique and add more discs if you want.”
According to Smith, Summit Metro Parks offers a disc golf course at the cross country area of Silver Creek Metro Park, located at 4579 Medina Line Road in Norton.
“The course was designed by nationally renowned architect Bill Griffith,” she said. “Griffith began playing disc golf in the 1990s and formed the Northeast Ohio Disc Golf Alliance in 2007. He is also in the Ohio Disc Golf Hall of Fame. We have received great feedback from the disc golf community and it has been well attended.”
Smith described the course as “both large and challenging for players.”
“It is situated on a truly beautiful piece of land,” she said. “A unique aspect of this course is that it shares space with our existing cross country course. When the site isn’t being used for organized cross country events, it’s open to the public for hiking or playing disc golf.”
There is no charge to use the course, Smith said, but players must bring their own equipment.
“The park district doesn’t rent or provide discs. Most sporting stores carry disc golf sets or individual discs,” she stated. “There are no reservations required to play. People can come anytime during the park’s hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. We encourage people to check the park district’s alerts web page to learn if the site will be closed for a cross country event prior to their visit.”
In addition to the Silver Creek course, Ernst said there are several notable local courses in the area.
“We also have courses in Hudson Springs, Portage Lakes and Boettler Park in Green, which is getting completely redone,” he said. “The upgrade in Green [is] kind of on-hold because of the whole COVID[-19] thing, but it will be done into an 18-hole beginner-type course. It can be used for nine holes right now, but it’s not exactly a user-friendly set-up right now. But [Griffith] has done a redesign, the City of Green has approved it and they’ll be moving forward with it shortly. We also have approval to add a park in Kenmore. That will be a nine-hole beginner course.”
The Portage Lakes Disc Golf Park is located in Portage Lakes State Park on Manchester Road in New Franklin, and Hudson Springs Park is located at 7095 Stow Road in Hudson. Some other area courses include ones at Malone University in Canton and Kent State University in Kent; Wingfoot Lake State Park, 993 Goodyear Park Blvd. in Mogadore; Veterans Community Park, 1714 Schneider St. N.E. in Plain; Arboretum-Spiker Park, 3220 38th St. N.W. in Canton; Lincoln Park (Oak Ledges), located on Lincoln Park Drive N.W. in Massillon; Dave Simpson Memorial Disc Golf Course, 162-174 Industrial St. in Rittman; Memorial Park on East Homestead Drive in Wadsworth; Roscoe Ewing Park, with the entrance located at Guilford Boulevard and Berkshire Drive in Medina; and Sam Masi Park, located on Gates Mills Boulevard in Medina.
Ernst said the different courses in the area offer a variety of options for disc golf players.
“Hudson Springs is an 18-hole course that is well maintained by the City of Hudson. It’s half open and half in the woods, and it’s a beautiful park,” he said. “Portage Lakes is probably the only course that is maintained completely by disc golf clubs. It’s a top-eight course in the state, and a top-200 course in the country. It is 18 holes and it’s pretty much all through the woods and around the lake itself. It’s actually four different courses built into one because we have two tee pads and two baskets on every hole.”
COVID-19 has had an interesting effect on disc golf, Ernst noted.
“From one standpoint, COVID[-19] has had an awesome effect on the game, and from another standpoint it’s been disappointing,” he said. “The disappointing part is that there are lots of areas where we can’t have groups, and the Professional Disc Golf Association will not sanction tournaments. So, there’s a lot of red tape we have to run through to make things still happen. At the same time, however, we are seeing huge growth. There have been times in the last few months where you could hardly get on any of the courses. People wanted to get outside and do something, and there were people — families, kids and every age group — playing disc golf everywhere. That’s been awesome for the growth of the sport.”
Regarding safety issues, Smith recommended “following all current public health guidance.”
“Right now, that includes maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people who are not members of your immediate household and wearing a mask if maintaining space is not possible,” she said. “The park district’s most up-to-date guidance can be found on our website. With a spacious course like this, we don’t anticipate that it will be difficult to maintain distance from others, which makes disc golf a fun and safe choice to enjoy this season.”
For more information on Summit Metro Parks’ course and the park district’s COVID-19 updates, visit www.summitmetroparks.org.