Wednesday, October 7, 2009
DALLAS -- The baskets with hanging chains in Dallas City Park are not wildlife feeders or strange-looking toys. They're disc golf baskets, or "holes."
The game is similar to golf, but instead of hitting a ball with a club, players toss specialized discs that are a bit smaller than a Frisbee. The sport has been increasing in popularity recently and now the city of Dallas can be added to the growing list of places to play in the region.
"This area is a hot bed for this goofy sport," said John Swanson, Dallas community planner.
The city installed a nine-hole course and a practice area near the first hole. The Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce and the city will hold a grand opening on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 4 p.m.
Swanson said he didn't have much space to work with, so he had to get creative.
"We didn't want to design some mini course that no one wanted to use, but we didn't want to interfere with other park users either," he said.
Instead of distance, the biggest challenges for players are the hazards. Most holes have something in the way, whether it be trees, ravines, hills, bushes and, on hole No. 6, a huge patch of blackberry brambles right smack in the middle of the fairway.
"You have to know how to throw a disc and face challenges," said Ron Lines, Dallas parks supervisor.
On most holes, players can't see the basket from the tee, adding another challenging element. However, Swanson said the course isn't too difficult for beginners.
The idea for building the course was inspired by a city staff picnic. A few years ago, Swanson, who has been playing disc golf for about five years, set up a few improvised holes during the party in Dallas City Park.
"People loved it," Swanson said. "Everybody played."
The next year he brought a portable practice basket. That's when City Manager Jerry Wyatt asked him to build a course.
The nine holes took about a year to create and a week to install. Lines and Swanson consider the course a work in progress. They are considering alternate tees, giving players variety if they want to play 18 holes instead of just nine holes.
An informational kiosk with scorecards will be installed soon and concrete slabs are slated to replace the 4x4 plank tee markers. More trash cans will line the course to encourage players to leave the park clean.
Plans to start a disc golf club are under way and Swanson is looking for a retailer in town to sell discs. Eventually, he would like to organize a tournament.
Lines said the city welcomes players' suggestions for improving the course, but at the moment he is happy to see players breaking it in.
"For right now, let's open the thing and get people using it," he said.