Who hasn't enjoyed tossing a Frisbee with a friend?
How about throwing that Frisbee around the fields, along wooded trails and across streams of Central Pennsylvania?
That's exactly what the sport of disc golf offers. The popular pastime combines the precision skills of tossing a Frisbee with the fun and challenge of a golf course. The goal, like that of golf, is to sink your disc into the "hole'' or chain metal basket in as few "strokes'' or throws as possible.
Valley View Park in Altoona features one of the region's first disc golf courses, and park manager Ron Tragon reports that a growing number of players are taking advantage of the local facility throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons.
The Professional Disc Golf Association, based in Georgia, is the governing body of the sport that's been gaining steam since the 1970s. The PDGA invites top players to compete around the United States and the globe. In fact, the 2008 World Championships will take place in just a few weeks in Michigan.
But more importantly, disc golf is a fun and challenging sport for all ages; a sport that allows you to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with family and friends.
It's a healthy pastime: the discs are lightweight and carts are not a factor, giving the participants a chance to walk beautiful courses through woods and fields, often sharing their path with hikers, dog walkers and bird watchers.
The nine-hole disc golf course at Valley View Park was constructed in 2002, including metal baskets, concrete tee pads and signs at each tee outlining the challenge of the hole. The scenic course begins near a picnic pavilion and works its way around the park facilities, past the softball field and playground area. It winds along the walking trails and through the woods. If nine holes aren't enough, you're welcome to play through twice. The course is free and open to the public, and is a recreational highlight of the beautiful county-owned park.
Another disc golf course was recently upgraded in Centre County. The three-hole demonstration course at Circleville Park in State College was expanded to nine holes last year, giving local fans another opportunity to play. And more courses may be on the way.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has been working to add disc golf facilities to state parks; eight have been constructed.
You may not find Tiger on the trail: you won't recognize the names of the world's best players, but you will have plenty of fun. With gas prices soaring, disc golf is a chance to enjoy the outdoors close to home with no greens fees and limited expenses for gear.
Disc golf equipment is available locally at Dunham's Sports in Altoona as well as on line. For more information about this growing sport, visit the Professional Disc Golf Association on the web at www.pdga.com.
Kellie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.