Aug 16, 201207:29 AMDaily News
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Disc golf is fun for the whole family
Matt Hamilton has high hopes for his beloved sport.
The Camp Hill father is an avid disc golfer of 19 years, and he hopes that one day he can flip on ESPN and see coverage of the sport on TV.
With the way the sport is growing, Hamilton just may get to see it happen.
Disc golf is “golf” played with a small Frisbee®-like disc.
The goal is to complete a course of 18 holes using the fewest tosses possible. Holes are chain-link baskets with that catch the disc.
Hamilton first played at age 18 when he was living in Virginia and some friends took him out for a round. He moved to Memphis where he really got into the sport before coming to Camp Hill.
Originally, he couldn’t find anyone who played and went on a six-year hiatus. But that all changed when he saw someone digging in Creekside Park near his home.
“I ran into my buddy who started digging the first hole for this course here, and I knew right away what he was doing,” Hamilton said. “I came up and introduced myself to him, and he and I put this whole course in here.”
The two are still friends to this day, and the course is home to the Creekside Crawdads, Hamilton’s club. The Crawdads are one of three clubs in the area, including the Pinchot Park Fighting Llamas and Carlisle Coyotes.
Hamilton loves the competitive nature of the sport, but especially loves that it ultimately is a family game. Hamilton’s wife and 11-year-old daughter also play the sport, and his son has been very successful in his young career.
Tyler Hamilton, 14, recently finished 12th out of 32 in the Amateur Disc Golf World Championships in Charlotte, N.C.
“His division is 16 and under, and he was the youngest,” Matt Hamilton said. “He had a pretty good tournament.”
The elder Hamilton didn’t fare as well, but he enjoyed the experience and family vacation in Charlotte. His wife and Tyler met friends and had a great time driving around and meeting new people. The tournament drew people from more than 18 countries.
The people are arguably the best part about disc golf, Hamilton said.
“It’s the camaraderie of the people out here,” Hamilton said. “I’ve said it many times, disc golfers are the best people in the world. Most of them would give you the shirt off their back if you need it.”
The Crawdads have a mix of people with varied backgrounds, and they all come in handy when they have a job to do.
“We’ve got a mechanic that helps everybody in the club, carpenters that help out everybody, or if somebody needs a house painted, we all go over, pitch in and do a house painting for them,” Hamilton said. “It’s the camaraderie and brotherhood.”
There is also a brotherhood amongst the various clubs. Each club supports the others and attends their tournaments and events. Tournaments for 77 or even 144 people are selling out quickly, Hamilton said, which is more proof of the sport’s increasing popularity.
While Tyler doesn’t have friends at school who play, he does have friends in his neighborhood next to the park he routinely plays disc golf with. The rising freshman at East Pennsboro High School said the sport needs more publicity to take it to the next level.
Fans can see some disc golf tournaments with Comcast’s OnDemand feature, and some tournaments are broadcasted on discgolfplanet.tv.
The elder Hamilton said there is an organized round of disc golf played once a night somewhere in the area. The Crawdads hosted an event that featured two of the best disc golfers in the world, Jay and Des Reading, Thursday night in a clinic and tournament.
A benefit of disc golf that people rarely think of is its ability to cut down on vandalism and crime in community parks. Hamilton said foot traffic has increased “hundred fold” at Creekside, and there has been a subsequent decline in problems in the park.
“You ask any park director wherever they’re at, once a disc golf course is in, vandalism is down, attendance is up,” Hamilton said. “It’s just great all around for the parks and the clubs and people who want to play it.”
If you want to play:
It’s very simple to start playing disc golf. Get a disc from any sporting goods store—Hamilton also recommends buying from the various clubs or simply online—and find a local course. Carlisle has courses at Coyote Hills (Beagle Club Road) and White Tail Woods (Sheaffer Park); Camp Hill has Creekside (Matthew Drive in Ridley Park); Mechanicsburg has one in Willow Mill Park; and Pinchot Park in Lewisberry has a pair.
A course is coming soon to Spring Meadows Park in Boiling Springs.
Each player needs a disc. Play is just like golf with each person teeing off from a designated tee area, then continuing play with the person in back going first. Play continues until a player lands a disc in the basket. Score is based on par, which is usually designated on markers at each tee.
Whoever completes the course in the least amount of throws wins.
To get involved in a club, search online based on your area. The website for the Creekside Crawdads is: http://www.creeksidediscn.org/index.cgi