OGLESBY — The pleasure of getting outside to play 18 holes is the goal of all golfers, but more and more are choosing to attempt to shoot par by throwing rather than swinging.
There are almost 6,000 disc golf courses across the nation registered on the website DGReview.com, a dramatic increase from the 3,000 listed in 2009. There are local courses in Ottawa, Princeton, Spring Valley, Streator, Marseilles, Lacon, Roanoke, Sandwich, Pontiac and El Paso. There are also several courses in Joliet, Rockford, Bloomington and Peoria.
“There are more than 200 courses within 100 miles of Oglesby,” Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC) instructor and faculty liaison Wes Black said.
Black runs the IVCC Disc Golf League which plays at 4:30 p.m. every Monday from April through September. The course is always open and free to the public and is located behind the track and baseball field. Players park in the south lot and the first hole, or basket for disc golfers, is located behind a large tree.
He said the school was approached in 2009 about installing a disc golf course.
“We thought it would give students a very inexpensive thing to do in-between classes or after school. The administration was very receptive, and the Student Government Association donated the money for the baskets, and volunteers did the rest,” Black said.
The course opened in June of 2010. Tournaments were hosted, and the proceeds from those and from selling T-shirts covered the cost of installing concrete tee pads in 2012.
Black said disc golf is more family oriented than traditional golf, and he regularly sees families on the course with children of all ages.
“Sometimes kids are just walking along while the older kids and parents are playing. You don’t see that on a ball golf course. During league last Monday, a grandfather walked along with the group just to watch; that’s awesome,” Black said.
He also said advanced golfers enjoy playing in competitive leagues which are common on most courses.
“We started the IVCC Disc Golf League in the summer of 2010. Our league is a two-disc scramble very similar to a ball golf scramble. We have nine baskets, but we have two distinct tee pads (shorts and longs) on every hole, so we play 18 different holes during Monday league,” he said.
A significant difference between traditional golf and disc golf is affordability. Black said almost every course is free, and you only need one disc to play, although most disc golfers carry several. At a typical cost of $6 to $18 each, Black said he’d spend more than that on just balls in traditional golf. Discs are available at the campus book store and also at area sporting goods stores.
“A competitive golfer will carry a bag full; I carry 18. They make discs that turn left, go straight, or turn right because it’s common to need to throw around trees. There are drivers, mid-ranges and putters, so even novice players will usually carry at least one of each. And the disc will last you for years,” Black said.
And disc golf is just as competitive as traditional golfing
“As a lifetime ball golfer, I know the feeling of a huge drive or a long putt, and I get to experience that same feeling playing disc golf,” Black said.
Recreational par for the IVCC course is 63. Each of the nine holes features two tees from different approaches. The nine red tees, the shorter holes, are all Par 3 with one Par 4 on hole No. 6. The nine blue tees, the longer holes, have three Par 3s, four Par 4s and two Par 5s. A round typically consists of playing both sets of tee pads.
As most disc golf courses are installed in already existing parks, any road is typically out-of-bounds.
“The IVCC course doesn’t have any water hazards, but they’re pretty common on other courses,” Black said.
In order to increase the challenges provided by the course, IVCC has planted an additional 22 trees to throw around.
He added that exercise is another appealing factor of disc golf. His GPS will register one mile per nine holes, and sometimes they play 36 holes or more during a day.
“If you want to go for a walk, you may as well be throwing a disc,” he said.
For more information visit the IVCC Disc Golf Facebook page or www.ivccdiscgolfcourse.blogspot.com.