Russell Crocker throws to the first basket of the Jack Gist Park disc golf course on Friday.-Photo by Shannon Reid

Russell Crocker throws to the first basket of the Jack Gist Park disc golf course on Friday.-Photo by Shannon Reid

Disc golf fun for families, increases activity in park

Replace golf clubs with flying discs, golf holes with raised metal baskets and the result is known as disc golf, Frisbee golf or the combined hybrid word “frolf.” Some use the disc golf course at the Jack Gist Park as training for competitions, others as an excuse to get outdoors.

Edan Badajos, competitive disc golfer and board member of Jack Gist Recreation Park Association, has coordinated field trips for Fireweed Academy and Chapman Elementary School, and said kids often return with their parents to play. 

“It’s family friendly,” said Badajos. “Lots of different people are using the course.” 

The park course, which winds through a wooded area before curving around two of the Jack Gist softball fields, was the site for the first Shorebird Showdown tournament in May. It attracted more than 40 participants.

Russell Crocker said he has played since being introduced to the sport by his brother-in-law and friend two years ago. 

“It is really fun,” he said. “It is a good way to get outside, toss some discs, watch a softball game or two. It’s for all ages and it’s free.”

Similar to golf, many frolfers including Crocker bring a selection of discs like a putter, distance and mid-range discs, helpful in tailoring to different playing circumstances. 

A disc golf league meets at the course at 6 p.m. every Wednesday. There is an amateur division that is $5 to attend where players compete for prizes, and a professional division where players pay a $10 fee that is paid out to the winners. 

A dollar from every entrance fee goes to the next competitor to get an ace, known as a “hole in one” in traditional golf. Badajos said one person has scored an ace at the park this summer. 

Badajos was part of the original group who approached the Homer City Council and Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission with the idea of a disc golf course in October of 2008. 

“It was a pretty long process,” said Badajos. “The Homer City Council and Parks and Recreation (Advisory Commission) were all for it, but it took about three years going back and forth with the city to get the user agreement and get the all the paperwork done.” 

After use of the park was approved, sponsorship to purchase baskets was given by local donors and businesses including Homer’s Jeans, Homer Hounds, Bulletproof Nets and Dibble Creek Rock.

Badajos believes having a more constant public presence at the park has decreased “shady-type activities,” and said he’s seen less left-behind evidence of drug use since the park has become more popular.

“One neighbor has been vocally opposed to the disc golf course, but in my experience at the park the softball games are a lot louder than the disc golf games,” said Badajos. “Disc golfers generally want it to be quiet, it’s a whisper-type sport.” 

“Personally I think the fact that more people are using it is making it a safer, better park and maybe that means there is more noise but that is the noise of people enjoying the park and recreating,” he added.  

Badajos, who actively participates in disc golf tournaments, placed fourth in the Alaska State Disc Golf Championships last weekend. Thaddaeus Gunther of Homer placed second. Badajos will compete in The King of the Hill competition on July 4 at Hilltop Ski Area in Anchorage. 

Locally, the Tall Grass Open disc golf competition will be held at Jack Gist Park during the second weekend in September. Discs can be purchased locally at NOMAR and Cycle Logical and are sold for an average price of $10-$20 per disc.

The Jack Gist Park disc course is open during park hours, 7 a.m.- 11 p.m. For updated information visit Moose Pretzel Disc Golf Facebook page, search Jack Gist Park on discgolfscene.com or call Edan Badajos at 399-4810.

Shannon Reid is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.

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