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Duluth Disc Golf Craze at Home in the Northland

by Rosella Stewart

The game of disc golf, formerly called frisbee golf, has completely taken over summer out­door sporting over the past ten or so years. Disc golf is played fairly similarly to regular golf, us­ing the same objectives and point system, only instead of playing with a ball and club, only a flying disc is used. The objective target is most often a metal basket elevated off the ground. An early prototype of the game was first played in Canada in 1926, when a group of boys used the lids of tin cans to toss more aerodynamically into the target area.

The sport boomed in popularity during the fitness craze of the seventies and eighties. Throughout this time, disc golf was refined and reworked to fit into competitive sporting fields and to allow for easier learning and newcomer participation. It quickly became a well recog­nized organized sport across the country.

Devin Porterfield, a North Shore resident and member of the Professional Disc Golf Associ­ation (PDGA), ensures that disc golf does not take very long to learn. If you know how to play golf, you already know most of how it works.

For players from the area, Porterfield suggests taking a visit to Quarry Park in West Duluth. It is a great place to get the hang of the game and meet other players, make friends, and hone in on the skills of disc golf. Enger Park Golf Course and Monte Lac Park are two other great course options in the area to explore.

Disc golf is an excellent sport in northern Minnesota specifically. With our gentle lake­side breezes, expansive views of the Superior National Forest, and tolerable outdoor tempera­tures, the North Shore is a perfect destination for golf lovers. Disc golf is extremely popular in Minnesota, ranking the state with the highest disc golf popularity second only to Maine.

All that is required to play is a golfing disc and a target of some sort. If multiple golfing discs are being brought to the course, golf bags and walk-behind carts are made specifically for this sport. When selecting a golfing disc, Por­terfield emphasizes that all discs have their own flight characteristics, so it is important to be aware when practicing. Disc types include put­ting discs, mid-range discs, fairway drivers, and distance drivers. They will all throw differently down the fairway, so it is best to practice with the ones that will be played with.

For supporters of the sport, the best way to watch professional disc golf is by downloading the PDGA app on your device. Here, pro-tours are streamed and viewers also get tips from and highlights of the professional players.

Is family game night getting too repetitive? Disc golf is an excellent sport for all ages. It doesn’t involve strenuous physical activity and allows for friendly competition and a chance to step outside when the weather is nice. The pro­tocol is simple enough for kids to play along­side their families and understand the complex­ities and values of outdoor sporting. Porterfield has seen many kids golf better than the adults at the course, so take your family out to try a bit of disc golf this summer and see how it goes!

Duluth Disc golf is also a great source of fun and easy physical activity for older individuals for whom other sports may be too high-intensity.

Golfers walk an average of three miles per eighteen-hole round, which is roughly six thou­sand steps per round. Just walking from target to target throughout a game will supply over half of the daily exercise requirements recom­mended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disc golf is also an extremely easy form of a full-body workout, with the upper and lower body working in tandem to toss the disc and aim, while walking all throughout the game.

The mental health benefits of disc golf can­not be overlooked. Not only does it allow for socialization with other golfers after months of lockdown and social distancing, but it also gives the body much-needed vitamins and endorphins from the outdoors. Anxiety levels drop dramat­ically after spending time outside, and sleep quality improves drastically with at least an hour of fresh, outdoor air daily.

Disc golf is a wholly Minnesotan sport that is just picking up in the northernmost areas of the region. It is a treat to be able to head out and play a game with friends while soaking up the summer days, so don’t wait! Get out and enjoy a bit of disc golf, and you might even discover your next outdoor hobby!

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