Hike around the course
by Flip Putthoff
A new golf course out by Hogeye offers plenty of putters and drivers, but nary a dimpled ball to be found.
Fans of disc golf are making their way to a scenic 67 acres in rural Washington County, home of Cedar Creek Disc Golf Course. The 18-hole course is the creation of Brian Richardson, who lives on the property situated a tad east of Hogeye along Arkansas 156.
<inline type=”text” title=”” align=”left” ><strong>Fayetteville Disc Golf Association</strong>
Fayetteville Disc Golf Association has a Facebook page that lists tournaments and events and helps golfers coordinate play.
Disc golf is a fast-growing sport. Courses can be seen popping up at parks and schools around Northwest Arkansas. Richardson’s pay-to-play course is designed for disc golfers of all abilities. First-timers come to play. So do some of the region’s top players.
In a way, disc golf combines hiking with the skill of throwing a flying disc into a basket in as few strokes as possible. A round of 18 holes at the course is a hike of around five miles, Richardson said. No motorized carts at this golf course.
Players get upper and lower body exercise in addition to a good walk. The brain gets a workout with the game’s mental concentration.
“Parents like it because it’s a sport their kids can play and not get hurt,” Richardson said.
Like conventional golf, disc golf is for all ages. Richardson sponsors some top players on his Cedar Creek pro-staff team. The youngest is 6. The most senior is a man in his 50s who competes in the masters division at tournaments around the country.
Another, Kevin Jones, 22, of Greenwood, is a top-ranked professional disc golf player who makes a living at the sport.
“I play in a different city around the country every weekend,” Jones said on Thursday when reached by phone in Boston at a tournament.
Jones likes the Cedar Creek course because it’s friendly for beginners, and Richardson has been creative with the design. “There are a lot of fun, short holes with some in the woods,” Jones said.
A hole in one is a dream for the club and ball set. They’re more frequent in disc golf.
“It’s 100 times more common than for ball golfers,” Jones said. Professional players score a hole in one two or three times a year.
Getting into disc golf isn’t expensive. A bag with a few discs costs $60 or less. There are discs for driving, putting and fairway throws.
Even a disc an elite player might toss only costs $12 or so.
A lot of players get started aiming a Frisbee at trees around their yard, Richardson said. He got into disc golf as a volunteer building at course at Walker Park in Fayetteville.
“That was before I’d even thrown a disc,” he said. “When I started, a lot of my friends were playing.”
Richardson already owned the 67 acres close to Hogeye. He put up a couple of practice baskets, the equivalent to holes in conventional golf. When Richardson got the notion to go all out, he fashioned the 18 holes with permanent baskets and tee boxes, some decorated in ornate native stone.
Wooded Ozark hill scenery cradles the course. Some holes are in open meadow. Others in the woods offer a different challenge.
Hole No. 3 is steeped in scenery. During a round, Richardson launched a driver from the rock-ringed tee box. The disc sailed toward hill country ridges in the distance, then curved right and landed in the fairway. Two more tosses put it in the basket.
Players tally eagles, bogeys and birdies. Each hole has a par rating.
Gripping a golf disc is different than playing catch with a Frisbee. There are different grips for drivers, fairway discs and putters, as Richardson demonstrated during the round.
Discs come in a rainbow of colors. Bright colors are good for beginners, Richardson said. That’s the easiest color to see if a throw is off kilter and lands in the trees. A player loses a disc now and then.
“Ninety percent of the discs lost here end up in our lost and found box,” Richardson said.
Most players at the course arrive from Northwest Arkansas and the river valley, he said. Ardent disc golfers take golfing vacations, like their club and ball counterparts, sampling different courses around the nation. Richardson has hosted players from Alaska and Finland.
Golfers pay a fee per round or yearly memberships are available.
Tournaments are held at the Cedar Creek course and around Northwest Arkansas. Richardson said the local disc golf community is a tight-knit bunch who support one another. Most tournaments raise money for a charity or a family or person in need.
Richardson works constantly to improve the course. Signs at the tee boxes are in the works, telling players the par for each hole.
Professional Disc Golf Association
The Professional Disc Golf Association is the governing body of the sport. It has some 120,000 members in 54 countries. The association sanctions competitive events for players of every skill level.
Source: Staff report