Sports

Fling a Frisbee at Fort Nugent Park

Ben Pralle, a member of the First Reformed Ultimate Frisbee team, tosses  the inaugural disc at the Fort Nugent Park frisbee golf course grand opening.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Ben Pralle, a member of the First Reformed Ultimate Frisbee team, tosses the inaugural disc at the Fort Nugent Park frisbee golf course grand opening.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

There’s a new game in town and it’s called Frisbee golf.

“It’s a lot like ball golf but it’s free, which is really nice these days,” said Lowell Shields, course designer, at the grand opening ceremony for the Fort Nugent Park Frisbee golf course June 1.

Shields was introduced to the game by a late friend more than 30 years ago, and he’s played ever since. The game is more of a passion now than a pastime for the nine-time Washington State Disc Golf Champion, who’s known to carry a bag of 25 or more discs with him to play a single course.

“Each one serves a different purpose,” he said of the colorful plastic discs.

The Fort Nugent Frisbee golf course is currently the only official course on Whidbey Island. The nearest is located more than 17 miles away at Bakerview Park in Mount Vernon. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, there are 44 Frisbee golf courses in Washington and 2,488 United States courses listed in the association’s world-wide directory.

Shields predicts the course, which is rated intermediate to difficult because of the trees and long-distance “holes,” will draw a number of out-of-town disc golfers.

The ceremony piqued the attention of First Reformed youth pastor Brian Boersma and a team of high-school-aged Ultimate Frisbee club members who took a break from their weekly game to check out the new course. Boersma and the 25 to 30 youth who frequent the park for Ultimate Frisbee are excited to try out the new game.

Ultimate Frisbee player Kyle O’Brien, who plays traditional golf with his father (and often loses), looks forward to challenging his pop to Frisbee golf.

“It’ll be something I can beat my dad in,” he said with a smile.

Frisbee golf may be new to Oak Harbor, but it’s an old game, Shields said.

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, the true origin of the game is unknown; however, it took flight in the early 1970s and its popularity has since exploded onto the national scene.

The Fort Nugent Frisbee golf course materialized as a result of the community’s donated materials, labor and time, said Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik.

The manpower and design work required for the project would not have been possible without the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of Oak Harbor, Troop 144, Dustin and Mark Soptich, Jesse and Cameron Wolfe, Terry LeDesky, Diamond Rental parks staff and the parks board, Slowik said.

“This is truly a park built by a compassion for community service,” he said.

Slowik declined the inaugural throw, instead giving the honors to Ben Prowley of the Ultimate Frisbee group.

What is Frisbee golf?

Frisbee golf, also called disc golf, is played much like traditional golf. The big difference is in the equipment, both in cost and type. Instead of whacking a small, white ball with a strategically-chosen club — think wedge, wood, putter — players throw, toss and chuck specially-designed discs.

The object of the game is to tee-off from a designated area, usually marked by a cement pad, and land the disc in a basket target in the least amount of throws. The player with the lowest score at the end of the course wins the game.

To learn more about Frisbee golf, visit www.pdga.com.

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