Disc golf course attracts new players in Brockville

The newest sport in Brockville has ''flung' onto the scene this summer. With roots going back more than 40 years, it's easy to get in on the action.

While some wouldn't consider disc golf a new sport, it has reached a new audience recently, thanks to video-sharing sites and clips from the pro tour being featured on sports channels.

"Over the course of 40 years, the sport has been growing slowly at a grassroots pace," said Brian Hughes, Flyboy Canada founder.

Flyboy Canada formed a couple years ago by volunteers, to develop the growth of disc golf across the country.

"There's about 350 courses across Canada, which is pretty low in comparison to the percentage per capita in the United States and even in overseas in Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden. It's massive," said Hughes, who relocated to the Brockville area nine months ago to set up a disc golf course in the city. 

"Knowing full well we didn't have a course, immediately had to rectify that," Hughes said. "We went to City Hall and with the support of town councillors Matt Wren and Cameron Wales, along with the director of operations for Brockville, Phil Wood, they championed our donation of the course and helped get it through town council."

The area Hughes was looking to place the course was in the field and wooded areas of Brackenreid Park, between North Augusta Road and Bartholomew Street.

"The mayor, Jason Baker, actually made a comment saying it was an excellent use of utilizing unused space," said Hughes.

Playing disc golf is like golf, only no clubs are involved, aiming to throw a Frisbee like disc into a metal container down the field.

"You're just using your own body, the power of your body and all the other rules apply as far as, who goes first and counting the strokes," Hughes said. "You tee off using a disc and the object is to get the least amount of throws and get into the target, which is the basket with chains. Lowest score wins."

The Brackenreid course opened approximately three weeks ago with the city's approval, and the local scene has since exploded.

"Our Brockville Facebook page has gone nuts. We got 172 members, and basically you could drive by here on a weekend and there's generally a car. It's continuously flowing," Hughes added. 

The course has ten baskets with two tees to throw from, a red tee for beginners and a blue tee for the more skilled players. It takes approximately 45 minutes to one hour to complete a round depending on how many people are playing.

The game is also free to play, as long as you have discs, which can be purchased online or rented from the city.

"We donated a bunch of sets to the Brockville Public Library, which is going to be fantastic," Hughes said. "Now they're opening up, making a little bit easier. They're very excited to support that. We'll be supplying them with even more shortly."

Brockville resident Mitch Beattie has been playing the course a few times a week.

"It's one of those things where it's hard to master, but pretty easy to start out and just kind of throw some discs around and see what happens," Beattie said. "Some days you come out and play just a quick time and some days you play 40, 50 holes."

"When you're starting out, I think learning a bit about the discs is a little bit difficult because they all do different kinds of things, hard left and hard right," Beattie said. "Some are under stable, some are stable."

Discs have different purposes, like golf clubs, with some used for closer shots to the basket, 'putters' and 'driving discs' used when you start from the tee.

"The fact that it's free gives a lot of opportunity too, you know, hockey is expensive, soccer can be expensive. It's pretty cool that for a few bucks, a few discs, you're able to come out and play unlimited rounds here in Brockville. And I think it's a great thing for the community," Beattie added. 

Kingston resident Tony Paredes started playing disc golf at Queen's University in 1981.

"We still play in that same course today, so it's been now 40 years," Paredes said. 

"Back then when we started, we were throwing Wammo Discs, Wammo Frisbees. Not these discs. Now there's a whole, I don't know, a dozen manufacturers now with all their spin on it," said Paredes.

"It's blowing up, especially in the pandemic. It's been amazing how this is certainly a sport that accommodated distancing and outdoors and things like that. And the content was phenomenal. I think it really people really picked up on it," he added. 

Paredes has played at several disc golf courses in Ontario, meeting lots of new players a long the way.

"If you spend any time around disc golfers, it's a real community and a real culture around it. It's just really inclusive," Paredes said. "You show up and it's like, 'Hey, can I join you? Or do you want you know, do you want company?' Come on along, you know, meet new people. It's a wonderful culture."

Since the Brockville course has some baskets in wooded areas, dressing properly is also recommended.

"A good pair of hiking shoes, I actually have a long sleeve, really light material, shirts and long pants, because mosquitoes will eat you alive sometimes when you're in the woods." Paredes added, "Bug spray and stuff like that. I just keep safe and watch out for ticks and things like that."

The course also has its hazards, including heavy brush, trees between the tees, and the basket, a creek and even a swamp on hole four.

"Its drama, whether it hits a tree, rolls, you never know but getting out there and once it leaves your hand as the archer it up to nature," Hughes said.

"You can't beat it. It's a hike with a purpose. You know, you're out there, you're challenging yourself, you can play with a group of people. You can play by yourself first thing in the morning, late at night. Doesn't matter. And there's even glow discs for midnight rounds."

For more information about Brockville disc golf, visit their Facebook page or Flyboy Canada.