02:30PM, Friday 14 August 2020
During lockdown, many of us have turned to sports we never would have considered before, simply as an excuse to get out of the house.
Running, cycling, golf, tennis, hiking – the list goes on. Those of us who felt queasy at the thought of going out for a jog, whose heart raced just getting off the sofa, are now self-celebrated decathletes.
But over the last few weeks, I have been getting to know a sport you almost certainly haven’t tried. In fact, I expect you hadn’t heard of it at all until you read the headline of this article. That sport is disc golf.
What on earth is that? I hear you say. Well, imagine golf, but with a Frisbee (the sport is called disc golf because Frisbee is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company).
The good news is there is a brilliant 18-hole disc golf course right on our doorstep, at Dinton Pastures in Hurst. It’s great fun and completely free to play.
Set up in 2016 by volunteers at the Berkshire Disc Golf Club, the objective is to throw your disc from the tee into the basket (as opposed to a hole in golf) in as few throws as possible. Being a relative novice, I probably average each basket in about five or six throws, but some experienced players, who can throw these discs up to 100 metres, can complete a basket in two shots, and occasionally one (known as an ace).
During lockdown, me and my housemates have been popping over to Dinton at least once a week to enjoy a round of disc golf. Living in a shielding household, it’s a fantastic way for us to get out of the house while keeping our distance from others.
If you aren’t shielding, it could also be a great way to see friends in a socially distant way. You never need to be closer than two metres, and since you’ll be using your own discs, you won’t even risk touching something that someone else has touched. Meanwhile, you can chat, walk (a full 18 holes can take about two hours) and enjoy being outdoors. Just be aware of other park users – we all need to share!
So, now that you are set on giving disc golf a try soon, there is one I need to warn you about. Although the cost of the sport is very low, you will probably need to buy yourself a disc. That sorry piece of plastic you’ve got lying around is not going to cut it.
Disc golfers use special flat discs, which can be thrown further than a traditional-looking disc. A beginner’s set of three discs costs £21.95 from https://discgolfuk.uk/shop/disc-golf-uk-starter-set/
If you want to keep costs lower, you could even pick up a Discraft Ultra-Star for about £13 from an outdoor shop like Decathlon or Cotswold. These are a more traditional-looking disc but can still be thrown pretty far with some practice.
Just like golf, there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you’ve got the hang of it you may want to take your new favourite hobby elsewhere. Luckily for you, there are plenty of courses around the UK, including ones nearby in Basingstoke and Oxford. There is even a pro scene, although it is a lot bigger in America. The top players earn more than $110,000 a year.
If you fancy heading out and flinging some plastic soon, visit https://www.dinton-pastures.co.uk/plan-your-visit/disc-golf/ to see a map of the course. I’ll see you out on the fairway!
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