Brush the dust off your childhood Frisbees, a new craze is taking Australia by storm. Disc Golf. A hybrid of Frisbee and golf, the sport is rapidly becoming the new fad in Australia and around the world.
The Australian Flying Disc Association has over 3,000 members and the sports governing body, Australian Disc Golf, has been the official organiser of the Australian Tour and Championships since 2007. Internationally the sport has almost 50,000 registered players, with many more casual participants. Leagues in the USA and Europe have big name sponsors such as Mars and Pepsi, while the Australian league continues to grow and hold world-class events.
It is this hype that Andrew J. Ferguson, Director of Development for the Victorian Disc Golf Association hopes to tap into; "In recent years the sport has taken off in Australia, following rapid success in the US and Europe. It's a sport for everyone that doesn't require massive amounts of fitness just a willingness to get out into the sunshine and have a bit of fun."
The sport is played much like traditional golf. A series of 'holes', in this case metal baskets, are played on a 9 or 18 hole course. Players tee off by throwing a disc at a metal basket, the hole, aiming for par or below par scores. The differing weights of the disc offers the player a range of 'clubs' to play with, for short throw putting or longer drives.
The game can be played in all terrain. To prove the versatility of the game, tournaments have been held on grass, desert and even snow. The annual winter Disc Golf Ice Bowl in the USA last year raised over a quarter of a million US dollars and attracted over 10,000 participants.
Ferguson, who discovered the sport while living in New Zealand, believes that in a matter of years the sport could be staging more international tournaments with the future possibility of the sports inclusion in the Summer Olympics or even Commonwealth Games; "Our ten year plan is to develop the sport in Victoria and Australia to a similar size as that in the US and Europe. Ultimately, we would like to have a greater Australian presence on the international circuit. We'd also like to have permanent courses so we can stage our own tournaments, attract international players and host showcase events."
Ferguson notes that while the sport is low intensity it is a great means of exercise and can be played by people of all ages, fitness and mobility; "With the increase rate of obesity, more and more kids and adults alike are shying away from outdoor activities and sports. Disc Golf is not too physically taxing, yet it is a social and fulfilling way to spend a weekend afternoon."
Various events and competitions are held year round. All are welcome, new and old. Interested participants should visit the Victoria Open Tournament website, and for future events see here.