Second in a mini-series about overlooked and underappreciated ways to exercise:
Mark Twain famously described golf as a “good walk spoiled.”
Same goes for disc golf.
Both games can be pretty frustrating. I play both and am not especially good at either.
But from a “No Sweat, York” perspective, the important word here is walk.
Walking can be great exercise.
And whether you’re chasing a little white ball or a colorful plastic disc around a course, you’ll do a lot of walking — and that does your heart a lot of good.
Disc golf, played the way my son and I do, is actually more like jogging. We play speed rounds where we practically race around the course. That doesn’t do a whole lot for our accuracy, of course, but it feels exhilarating and gets the blood pumping.
But you don’t need to rush in order to get the cardio-vascular benefits of a good walk spoiled (and on a nice day, when the course is crowded, like it was over this Memorial Day weekend, you can’t rush anyway).
So, what is disc golf?
It’s similar to the real game in that you start on a tee and try to get your disc in the “hole” in the fewest shots possible.
The holes are actually metal baskets with chains hanging down to catch your putts.
The balls are plastic discs — typically heavier than a normal Frisbee (though you can use regular Frisbees if you want). Various discs are used for various shots.
Some are considered “drivers” because they can be heaved great distances. Others are specially designed for approach shots and putting.
More serious disc golfers carry around a pouch filled with a variety of discs.
Watch experienced disc golfers play and you’ll see that they often use a forehand technique of throwing rather than the typical backhand motion used for winging a Frisbee around in the back yard. My son has become fairly proficient with the forehand shot, while I can’t seem to master it.
Courses can be quite varied. Some are wide open with long shots. Some are more cramped and wooded, forcing you to thread your disc between trees and other obstacles. Some have a combination of both.
York County has several decent courses to choose from.
Gifford Pinchot State Park has two, the Boulder Woods course and Quaker’s Challenge. The Quaker course is indeed the more challenging, built partially on a steep hillside and with some difficult shots. If you’re looking for exercise as much as a golf experience, this is the one to play. But the Boulder Woods course can be fun, too, and it’s probably the better choice for beginners.
We found the Red Course a bit confusing to follow — and annoying in that it cuts through areas where people are doing many other activities. The mini course is kind of silly. And I haven’t yet played the Blue Course.
So, if you like the outdoors, like to walk, don’t mind rummaging through poison ivy to find your disc or walking into spider webs in the woods, disc golf can be a great alternative exercise. Give it a try!
In the short video below, Ben Fisher demonstrates the forehand throwing technique.
Next up: Kayaking