By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
Combining elements of golf and Frisbee, disc golf has found a home at Beachfront Park in Crescent City.
Pretty much everyday, enthusiasts of the sport can be found throwing their discs around the expansive park, as they attempt to hit poles, which are installed throughout the park, although a common target is an elevated metal basket at other courses.
There is also a course set up at Joe Hamilton Elementary School.
The goal of the game, which was started in the 1970s, is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws. A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target, which is the hole.
As the player advances down the fairway, the person needs to make each consecutive shot from the spot where the previous throw has landed, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association Webpage.
Compared to regular golf, "disc golf rarely requires a greens fee, you probably won't need to rent a cart, and you never get stuck with a bad "tee time," the PDGA Website said.
On Sundays starting at 10 a.m., members of the Wild Rivers Disc Golf Club offer lessons and a game on Howie Drive at the park.
"It's something everyone can do," said Ron Cole, one of the key organizers of the club, who helped bring the course to Beachfront Park.
Cole said he loves that it's a sport that everyone from young to old can take part in. "You can be eight, or you can be 80," Cole said.
There's even an 85-year-old gentleman in the club that frequently plays, he said. To him, it's a wonderful way to get exercise and is a great hobby.
The course had its beginnings in 2003, during a brainstorming session at the Gateway Education Summer Day Camp. Cole said it was decided disc golf would be a good activity for the kids to participate in.
Dan Weatherspoon of Crescent City has played for about a year. He said it's a wonderful way to wind down after a long day of work. Many times, his playing partner is neighbor Blane Dodson.
"We're like little kids," Weatherspoon said. "When I get home, I go to his house and say Can Blane come out and play?"'
Dodson said the sport has become one of his favorite pastimes.
"For me, it's just a lot of fun." he said. "We get to play at a nice park and it's good exercise. I've even lost a little bit of weight."
Playing at the park is a great way to be next to the ocean and near wildlife.
There's been times, Cole, Weatherspoon and Dodson said, where they'll see animals from river otters to raccoons.
The park attracts many disc golf enthusiasts from all over who stop by to play the game in an unique setting.
Since the course is at a public park, there are times when a hole has to be passed by because of picnickers and kite flyers.
Many times, people are curious as to what the participants are playing.
"A lot of people ask what we're doing," Weatherspoon said.
The sport is even catching on to family members of the group.
Dodson said his three adult children tried the sport when they visited.
They enjoyed it so much they continued to play when they got back to their respective homes.
One of his sons, who lives in Montana, even played during extremely snowy conditions, although, eventually, they lost sight of the disc in the snow.
Currently, the Wild Rivers club plans to expand the holes at the park and hope to get approval by the Coastal Commission to do so in the near future.
The group is also in the middle of a fundraiser to raise money for baskets, tee pads and signage and are seeking sponsorships for all 24 holes at $550 each.
The club is currently looking for nine more sponsors before they break ground.
Disc club members consists of people from Del Norte and Curry counties.
The group's Website said members are "devoted to the advancement of the community through disc golf on four levels: economic, personal health, educational and community involvement."
To get golf discs, locally, the Wild Rivers website recommends the CAN Deal store at third and H streets in Crescent City.
There is a wide selection of drivers, midrange, and putters. Part of the proceedsgotowards funds for installation of baskets and tee-pads atthe Beachfront Disc Golf Course.
Wild Rivers Disc
When: The group offers lessons and a game at 10 a.m. every Sunday.
Where: At the backstop on Howie Drive at Beachfront Park in Crescent City.
Cost:To sign up for the club, cost is $12 for one year.
For more information: Go to www.wildriverdiscgolf.org. Or call Ron Cole at 465-3322. To learn more about the rules of disc golf, check out the Professional Disc Golf Association Webpage at www.pdga.com.