Words and images by Blake Allen
A group of men makes its way to the first tee pad of the course, slightly behind another group of people at the next hole.
They’re playing music, joking, and they even have a dog with them. The first golfer steps up and throws his first disc of the day around a few pine trees.
This is just the average weekend of disc golf in Jacksonville.
“It’s addicting,” said Darren Lemay, an amateur disc golfer from Orlando.
Disc golf, which is played like regular golf, uses throwing discs instead of clubs and balls to reach the hole in the fewest throws. Unlike ball golf, disc golf is relatively cheap due to low equipment costs and courses that usually don’t require a playing fee. There are, however, leagues that can be joined, which require membership fees.
In Jacksonville, the River City Disc Golf Association is one such league open to local disc golfers. Currently, the annual fee is $25 dollars and a lifetime fee is $250.
The RCDGA holds tournaments, including the upcoming Jacksonville Open, which includes professional and amateur divisions. Playing in the amateur division of the Jacksonville Open is Cyrus Moshiree from Jacksonville.
“I’ve been playing disc golf for about a year. So I’m fairly new to the sport. I have been in three tournaments,” said Moshiree when asked about his disc golf experience.
Moshiree explained how the Jacksonville Open is an event sanctioned by the PDGA, or Professional Disc Golf Association, which is the governing body of the disc golf world.
This will be the 11th annual Jacksonville Open, and the event is held over two weekends. The first weekend will consist of the amateur division, and the second weekend is for professional players.
The Open on April 9 and 10 will be held at Ed Austin Regional Park on the Fore Palms Disc Golf Course, one of three free disc golf courses in Jacksonville. Trinity Baptist College and Springfield Disc Golf Course make up the rest of the free parks. New World Disc Golf Course is also available, but requires a fee to play.
For more information on the disc golf scene in Jacksonville. Visit he River City Disc Golf Association’s Facebook page.
Fore Palms is the most popular course in the city. This course has 24 holes, two of which are played over a pond. In disc golf, hazards like this can mean losing discs for good.
Lemay explained that while some discs can float so they aren’t lost in water, others do not due to the material of which they are made. Depending on the type of disc that’s lost, a replacement could cost up to $30.
“The four main types of discs are distance drivers, fairway drivers, mid-range discs, and putters,” according to Moshiree. Drivers are typically the most expensive of the types, and putters the least.
“I play because it gives you a chance to walk around outside in nature and I like that. I also like it because it’s a very dynamic sport,” said Moshiree.
Lemay also explained why he liked the sport, but for a very different reason.
“It’s annoying and addicting because you want to play all the time to get better and better and you hate how much you want to play,” said Lemay. “That’s why I play.”
While the sport of disc golf can be a challenge, its low costs and spreading popularity help make it available to all.