Church of the Frisbeetyrian
By helping make Leland Municipal Park Disc Golf Course a reality and bringing newcomers to the sport, Leland Disc Golf Club signals the rise of disc golf in Leland.
Every Sunday morning, just as the sun is rising, players congregate at Leland Municipal Park Disc Golf Course, also known as The Church of the Frisbeetyrian, to play a round before the day begins.
Disc golf is played like traditional ball golf, but with flying discs instead of clubs and balls. Players start from a tee area and aim for a disc golf basket instead of a hole. The object is to play each hole in the fewest number of throws. The player with the lowest total throws over the entire course wins. Thanks to his enthusiasm for the fast-growing sport, Deron Webb, president of the Leland Disc Golf Club, helped make this course a reality.
“We used to play old-school disc golf in the park, where you pick targets like a tree or a trash can and throw at it,” he says. “After a while, disc golf holes just started forming,” Webb reached out to the Town of Leland and asked if they’d be interested in creating a disc golf course, and they were. He met with employees of the Parks and Recreation Department and showed them his ideas, and in June of 2018 Leland Parks and Recreation installed a 9-hole disc golf course at Leland Municipal Park. All holes are rated par 3 and range from 150 to 300 yards. Because the footprint of disc golf, the course is smaller than a traditional golf course. It’s laid out in feet instead of yards, so these courses are a great option for many parks and greenspaces.
Since opening the disc golf course and forming the Leland Disc Golf Club, they have 56 paid members and a governing body with a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and sergeant of arms. Some of the players are members of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) and have played in local PDGA-sanctioned events. In addition to playing the course in Leland, members play other local courses, including Castle Hayne, Arrowhead, the Brunswick County courses and Socastee in Myrtle Beach.
“Wherever there’s a disc golf course, we’ll go,” Webb says.
Webb, who first played the sport a few years ago after the insistence of some friends, plays at least five to six times a week. “What I really like about disc golf, aside from the fact that it’s laid-back, relaxing and fun, is that you can play by yourself and challenge yourself even if no one else is playing.”
All skill levels are welcomed. Knowing how to throw a Frisbee might be helpful, and a basic knowledge of golf, but neither are required to start having fun. The discs are “smaller and heavier than a regular Frisbee, and they each do different things,” explains Webb. “Not unlike ball golf, you have fairway discs, putting discs, drivers, etc.” He encourages anyone to come try the sport. “We always have someone from the club interested in going out to show somebody how to play. We’re very interested in growing the sport.”
How a game is played is similar to golf but, again, having played golf is not necessary. First, players tee off on the first tee; order is usually determined by flipping discs. Each hole starts with a tee-off, followed by successive throws until the disc lands in the basket. Things to learn about the sport include proper foot placement, follow through, avoiding water and tree hazards and out-of-bounds and in-bound throws. The motions in the two games are also similar. Players use their whole bodies to throw the disc, where players in traditional golf use their whole body to swing the club.
The accessibility, low cost and minimal skill-level requirements are perhaps why the sport of disc golf is growing in popularity. Players can get a starter set of discs at some local sporting goods stores for less than $40. And if someone is just learning the sport, “We always have bags of discs we’re loaning out for people to try,” Webb says.
The sport is also open to all ages. “We’ve had players from 8 years old to 70 years old,” Webb says. “Anyone who stops by when we’re playing and asks what we’re doing, we always stop the game and put a disc in their hands so they can get the feel of it.
We have several people who now play with us on a regular basis who just happened to stop one day.”
Webb adds that playing disc golf is a great way to exercise in the backdrop of natural, beautiful scenery.
Adding the disc golf club course to the Leland Municipal Park has increased the park’s usage. With a larger presence, people feel safer. Disc golf players have a philosophy that you should leave the course in better condition than when you found it. They are stewards of the community and make it part of their play that they pick up trash and litter, prune trees when necessary and help with minor maintenance of the course, which is a plus for the Department of Parks and Recreation. “It goes right along with the idea of a greenspace — little expense and little upkeep,” Webb says.
Approachable, affordable sports like disc golf are helping to get people interested in something new. There is something to match everyone’s competitive spirit and thirst for camaraderie. Webb encourages anyone who is interested in playing to come watch a game. “We have different levels of courses; a pitch-and-putt course to a full-on championship style course.”
Want to play? For more information about Leland Disc Golf Club, and where and when they are playing, you can find them on facebook at Leland Disc Golf Club.