Disc golf set to open this month

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Disc Golf South members Martin Conway (left) and Johnny Ferrari (left) at the Queens Park Disc Golf course. Photo: Janette Gellatly

FORMER New Zealand junior disc golf champion Martin Conway is excited the Invercargill disc golf course in Queens Park has come to fruition.

The 18-hole course, which begins at the park’s Herbert St entrance and goes along Coronation Ave, between two rows of trees, before looping and ending at the park’s second loop, will be officially opened on November 19.

Not only was the course for players who were passionate about the sport, it would also give people of all ages the opportunity to get out into the outdoors, get some exercise and have some fun, he said.

“Not only is it family-friendly, it’s a good environment to play in.”

Disc golf, which involves throwing a plastic disc the size of a small plate into a wire basket, was one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, according to Disc Golf South (DGS) member Johnny Ferrari.

After the official opening, there will be an introduction about the sport, a quick demonstration on how to play, some fun facts and a talk about the different types of discs before the public get their turn to have a go.

“Members of the club would be dotted around the course to help them, and 100 discs would be available for people to have a go,” the men said.

Conway and five other members of DGS, which was formed last year, put forward the disc golf concept to the Invercargill City Council (ICC), which was approved earlier this year.

The group had wanted to “bring the sport” to Invercargill for a while.

“We met with council and parks staff to begin with to make sure it would be viable, then it just rolled on from there.

“It’s been played in Wanaka and Queenstown, and is really popular there. So we got our heads together and now the course is up and running.”

The final outcome had been a collaboration between ICC, Healthy Families Invercargill, Sport Southland and various funders, as well as DGS.

Anyone could play disc golf at any time and on any day as long as they had a disc.

For those who may not have a disc, some would be available to hire from local shops, including the Herbert St Dairy.

With a maximum of four players per basket, and with 18 baskets, up to 72 people could be on the course at any one time, he said.

Conway said some players became so competitive, they had a variety of discs, and starter packs were also available to buy which generally included different types of discs including drivers, approach discs and putters, similar to traditional golf.

“Players can use one disc, but to be really competitive they can learn with a variety of discs, and there were different techniques to learn, depending on the direction and strength of the wind, for example.

“If it [the course] leads people to competing… then that’s awesome. We are keen to grow the sport.”

Funding of $25,000 came from the Community Trust of Southland, ILT Foundation and the Invercargill City Council active community fund.

“Each competition-standard wire basket cost $850. Multiply that by 18 and it adds up,” Conway said.

And because the baskets were competition-standard, a national tournament could be hosted in the city, he said.

Conway, who began flinging discs when he was 5, won the junior section in national tournaments in 2003, aged 17, and 2004.

And the next dream project for the group?

That would be to have a more professional, championship-length course nearby, they said.

Some disc golf courses reached almost 1930m, with pars 3s, 4s and 5s, some with baskets more than 133m from the tee, they said.

The Queens Park course was a par 57, with mostly par 3s and 4s.

Annual New Zealand Disc Golf tournaments were held nationally, with the next tour planned for April 21 and 22.

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