BURRILLVILLE – It’s a sport that’s growing in popularity, and there’s a fan base that would like to see a course built right in Burrillville.
Disc golf is similar to traditional golf in terms of rules, but significantly less expensive, and a growing number of courses have been popping up in public parks and private facilities across the country. Players throw a specialized plastic disc off of a tee, eventually landing it in a metal basket.
The sport has been around for about four decades – but thanks in part to the enthusiasm and determination of proponents to share their passion – the growth in disc golf’s popularity has accelerated in recent years.
“My friends always joke and say it’s the fastest growing sport in America. When you actually look at the numbers, it is,” said Nicholas Sherman, a resident who recently spoke before the Town Council in favor of building a local course.
Councilor John Anthony Scott brought the issue before the board to discuss asking the town administration or the Recreation Commission to look into an appropriate location. Scott noted that currently, the closest regulation courses are in Thompson, Conn. and Webster, Mass. In Pawtucket, a free disc golf trail weaves around Slater Park.
“We don’t have this,” said Scott. “I don’t know of another town around here that does.”
The course is considered relatively low cost to install. The greatest expense comes through installation of permanent the baskets, made of galvanized steel and 24 individual chains, which Scott said range in cost from around $345 to $450 each. Obstacles such as trees are considered part of the game as players – who generally bring their own discs – compete to land their throws as close as possible to their targets.
The set up is also like a regular golf course, but uses feet instead of yards, with nine and 18-hole courses designed with pars. In Thompson, as at many public ranges, the disc golf course has been built in a town park beside walking trails.
Scott noted the importance of building the course to regulation.
“If you did that you’d have out-of-towners coming to play on your official field,” Scott said. “It has to be done the right way, if you’re going to do it.”
Sherman pointed to the growth in the sport’s popularity.
“In the past decade, there has been a 316 percent increase in Professional Disc Golf Association memberships, and a 350 percent increase in how many events that they have,” he said.
Sherman, who said that he’s currently studying to become a PE teacher, noted that an average round takes anywhere from one and a half to two hours, and a session involves 8-9 miles of walking.
“It gives a place for a member of a community to go and be physically active and participate in healthful activities,” Sherman said. “One thing we focus on on the secondary level is not just team sports, but lifelong physical activities. I feel disc golf is a good lifelong activity.”
The discs, he said, cost $15 and last forever.
Councilor Raymond Trinque said that the idea to build a course should be worked into a cohesive plan for improving town recreation that includes things such as fixing the track at the middle school and enhancements to the bike path.
“I think it’s time to get this all into one workable concept,” said Trinque.
The board agreed to send the concept before the town’s Recreation Commission and told Sherman – who was one of seven members of the public in attendance at the meeting to support it – to take his knowledge there.
“This would keep the people here, and if we actually had a regulated course, we’d have outsiders coming into town,” said Scott. “I think it would help with recreation. We have a beautiful town, and people would come and play here.”