November 11, 2012

Kid Tracks: Disc golf is outdoor fun no matter the season

By Wendy Almeida walmeida@mainetoday.com
Assistant News Editor/Features

click image to enlarge

Disc golf is the perfect way to keep connected with teenagers while also enjoying a hike and a few hours in the outdoors. It’s also as competitive as you want it to be.

Photos by Wendy Almeida/Assistant News Editor/Features

click image to enlarge

The Beauty is an 18-hole disc golf course in Brunswick for novices to the sport. Also available is a more advanced course called The Beast.

DISC GOLF

WHERE: Enmen Field, Brunswick

COURSE HOURS: 10 a.m. to dark (clubhouse hours vary in the winter so call ahead for rentals or questions)

FEE: $5; Free for kids under 7 years old

DISC RENTAL: $1

INFORMATION:

www.mainediscgolf.com/enman

; 798-5000

The game of disc golf is a nice way to spend a few hours outdoors with teenagers. It offers some competitive fun by throwing a plastic disc into a metal basket on a golf-like course in the woods. My family considers the game to be a hike with permission to throw stuff around. It's also a nice way to chat and reconnect after a busy week while also getting exercise.

We played our latest round at Enmen Field in Brunswick. The Beauty, an 18-hole course for novice players, only takes a couple hours, so it's something we can squeeze into a busy day (there's also a more advanced course called The Beast, but we leave that to the more serious players).

We've played this course many times over the years, and despite a map on the back of the scorecard, I still lose track of baskets and tee pads. The tee pad for each hole is concrete and identified by number, which is usually on a nearby tree and/or trash barrel. Sometimes you can see the basket from the tee pad, sometimes you can't. That makes throwing the disc in the correct direction a bit of a guessing game. But that's not really a big deal. No one on the course seems to mind if we stay a little longer at a hole to make up for a misdirected disc, or if we play the course a bit out of order. The game attracts friendly, easy-going players, and I've never seen anything but friendly waves and chatter between players.

During this game I had a few stitches in my disc throwing hand (a story of stupidity involving a pair of hoof trimmers and my daughter's sheep) and I had to let it fly with the other arm. Let's just say I was off my usual game and never came close to meeting par scores on any hole.

There are a few different ways to throw a disc in this game, and each player develops their own preference. The girls and I generally throw the disc like a Frisbee with our hand curled toward our wrist, using a hard flick away from the body.

In the disc golf world this is known as the backhand throw, and it's the most popular type in the game. The girls and I have tried the forehand throw (bending the wrist back before snapping the disc forward to propel it away) but it's not a favorite. We switch things up a bit when we're close to the metal basket by using the hammer or "tomahawk" throw.

That's like an overhand baseball toss. The hammer throw also happened to be my preferred option after some frustration with my disc hitting tree after tree thanks to my less accurate throwing arm. And as teenagers are known to do, there may have been a few snarky comments just out of my hearing regarding my prowess (or lack thereof) on the course.

The kids and I own our own discs, which are midrange drivers. There are all kinds of discs, and it's not unusual to see a player carrying a bag filled with a variety of them. There are preferences about the style, weight and size, and some players really get into those fine details.

I have not bothered to learn the nuances. I go out and throw my all-purpose driver and I'm good with that. If you're new to the sport or don't have your own disc, Enmen Field rents and sells discs at its clubhouse. If you're interested in the more technical aspects about how each one works, the clubhouse staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

According to my smartphone's mileage tracker, we walked more than 2 miles on the 18-hole course. We play this game in all seasons and find that snow offers a lot of "smiles" (a smile-like mark is made in the snow when it lands).

Disc golf is a nice way to get outdoors for friendly competition. And when your 16-year-old wins, the gloating is bearable as long as a rematch is scheduled.

Wendy Almeida can be contacted at 791-6334 or at:

wea@mainetoday.com

Twitter: wea1021

 

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