The outdoor, warm-weather game of disc golf has been growing at an unbelievable rate; one that makes Steve Godar, the area's disc golf promoter mighty proud and one very happy camper.

The outdoor, warm-weather game of disc golf has been growing at an unbelievable rate; one that makes Steve Godar, the area’s disc golf promoter mighty proud and one very happy camper.

Disc golf courses in the immediate area include the Portage Lakes State Park, 5031 Manchester Road in the New Franklin section of the Portage Lakes; Boettler Park, 5300 Massillon Road in Green and the Hudson Springs Park, 7095 Stow Road in Hudson.

To the south of us in Canton there are courses at Schneider Park, 1801 Schneider St. NE, and Arboretum-Spiker Park, 3220 38th St. NW. Massillon also has its Oak Ledges disc golf course at Lincoln Park.

To our west, the city of Medina has three. They are Roscoe Ewing Park, the PoolSide Disc Golf Course, 421 Homestead St., and the Pier-Lon Park disc golf course at 5960 Vandermark Road. There's also the Wadsworth Memorial Disc Golf Course on Park Drive in Wadsworth.

The former Goodyear-owned, Wingfoot Employee's Park to our east, is now a state park. That course is called the Hangar Wingfoot State Park in Suffield. There's also another disc golf course in Suffield. It's called Mulligan Springs and is located at 2205 Congress Lake Road.

Kent State University has a disc golf course on campus and another one is located at the West Branch State Park, 5708 Esworthy Road in Ravenna.

Of course, if you have a hankering for traveling, no problem. You can still get your disc golf fix by playing the game to your li'l heart's content at Freedlander Park in Wooster, the Sabo Park in Brewster and in Findley at the Findley State Park disc golf course at 25381 state Route 58.

For a little history on the game, Frisbee golf made its debut in 1974. It was comprised of competitive freestyle, focusing on trick throws and acrobatic catches. The potential of disc golf as a formal sport and recognized recreational activity did not become apparent until after Ed Headrick of Wham-O installed the first permanent disc pole hole course. That's when disc golf moved from the fringe and into the mainstream.

 The first formal disc golf course was designed and installed by Headrick in Oak Grove Park in Pasadena, Calif. It was an instant success. He also founded the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) in 1975, which he turned over to the players in 1983. Headrick became so convinced that disc golf could be big, he resigned from his position at the Wham-O Co. and started up his Disc Golf Association company in 1976.

By the time of his death, Headrick has designed more than 200 courses. The popularity of disc golf grew with unparalleled rapidity. Each new course spawned more courses in nearby towns and cities.

The flying disc designer responsible for the technological leap that shaped modern disc golf was David Dunipace. Dunipace invented and patented the modern beveled-edge golf disc and in 1983, founded Innova Champion Discs. The golf disc he designed went on to make most of the day's courses obsolete. Innova continues to lead the industry in disc design and manufacturing. The disc golf baskets are completely modernized with chains that hang from the top to stop the discs’ momentum and all it to fall into the basket.

At the end of 2013, there were approximately 4,060 disc golf courses in the United States. No less than 159 of those are in Ohio. There are also approximately 500 international courses.

For the last three years, the number of USA disc golf courses has gone up by 15 percent. This rapid growth should continue because many parts of the country are unaware of disc golf and the many healthy benefits it offers to people across all age groups. In an age of rampant obesity, the sport of disc golf course offers free, fun and healthy exercise to every family.

A Frisbee is all one needs to play the game, though there are starter sets that include driver, mid-range and putter discs. That’s plenty for the beginner. Most courses are on a no-fee basis.

Over the years players united, forming the PDGA to help oversee and guide the rapid growth of the sport. The game's growing too fast to call it evolution; it's more like a revolution. There were 1,891 PDGA-sanctioned disc golf tournaments in the U.S. last year.

There are at least 80 colleges with disc golf teams. Kent State just put in a brand new 18 -hole disc golf course. It was designed by Bill Griffith, who also designed the Portage Lakes Disc Golf Course in the state park.

There is also a national PDGA tour where professional disc golfers, both male and female, can win large cash prizes. The total purse for 2013 events was $2,533,450, and that, folks, is not pocket change.  

The Portage Lakes Disc Golf Course (PLDGC) was founded in 2009. All fundraising for the course was done by volunteers soliciting local businesses and individuals. There were no less than 150 volunteers helping construct the PLDGC. The 18 holes were completed in 2011. Concrete tee pads were added in 2012.

On 43 acres in the Portage Lakes State Park, it's ranked as one of the top disc golf courses in the state. Come on out and play disc golf and discover the fun. Once you start, you won't want to stop. There's no charge.

For more information check out the PLDGA website at www.pldga.com or contact Steve Godar at 330-644-0544 or steve@pldga.com.

Now toss that disc in the air, watch it fly toward the basket, cup your hands around your mouth and yell, "FORE!"  
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