What’s a sports nut to do while traveling across the country alone? You could find a tennis court and hit a few balls by yourself, but that’s pretty boring. You could throw a baseball up in the air and run and catch it over and over. (Ok, I did that as a kid, but it’s really lame.)
Or, you can do what I do: Head for the nearest frisbee golf course. Frisbee golf – or “disc golf,” for those who don’t like genericized trademarks – is like real golf except that instead of hitting a ball until you get it in a hole, you toss a frisbee until you get it into a basket. Holes can have water and tree hazards (though, sadly, I’ve never seen any sand bunkers.)
Disc golf courses exist all over the country. They actually make discs specifically for this sport. Drivers are light and aerodynamically designed to fly the farthest, while putters are heavy and steady, just what you need for a short throw to complete a hole.
The game is great because you can play alone. Like real golf, you’re typically walking through forests and open fields, so you get a lot of fresh air and get to feel a connection with nature. And best of all, frisbee golf courses are almost always free!
My frisbee golf experiences on the road
I’m no expert when it comes to disc golf but I do enjoy the game. I carried a 3-pack of discs with me in my cross-country van trip and hit up a number of disc golf parks. You can find the nearest disc golf course by checking out resources like the Professional Disc Golf Association course directory.
The first course I visited was Reedy Creek Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. This was a challenging course and I scored +28 over 18 holes. At Reedy Creek, I also experienced my first tree hazard, when my tee shot at #17 went astray. Fortunately, the tree was light and I was able to sway it and retrieve the disc.
BB Owen Park in Dallas was one of my favorite courses. It was also challenging, with hazards everywhere. This was the intimidating view from the first tee. You’re supposed to fly the disc through that little sunny space beneath the trees.
At BB Owen I somehow managed to shoot only +20 over 18 holes, which included my first birdie ever and my longest hole-out ever, from 20 feet away.
My former home course in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh is another favorite. The first few holes are just wide open on a grassy hillside, but eventually the course weaves its way through the woods.
There’s a course at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago that seems popular with the younger crowd. This course goes right through the middle of campus, so if it’s a busy school day, expect delays while you wait for innocent pedestrians to pass by, lest you accidentally strike an unsuspecting undergrad with a flying saucer.
The disc golf course at Rutgers University in New Jersey was the most confusing, because on a couple of occasions it was near-impossible to find the next hole.
I’ve also hit up disc golf courses in Sioux City Iowa, Austin, and somewhere in rural South Carolina. If you’ve got one in your town, let me know and I’ll make a date to stop by. There’s something about those baskets that just calls out to me!
What do you do to stay active while traveling?