Residents may have seen a number of discs flying through the air around the community lately. But the discs aren’t UFOs. Instead, disc golf has come to Scotia Village thanks to a group of curious residents and a few helpful students at St. Andrews University.
According to resident Doug Henderson, the sport first caught the attention of fellow resident Pam Humaney, who was walking at the nearby college and spotted some odd-looking, elevated metal cages scattered around the perimeter of the campus. The cages turned out to be a series of “holes” that the students were trying to hit by throwing the discs over various distances and around obstacles, much like golfers on a traditional golf course.
“Fortunately, I had the opportunity to play before… and knew what they were,” said Doug.
Like golf, players keep track of the number of shots, or throws, and try to land their disc in these cages, or baskets, in as few throws as possible.
“Tom (Pam’s husband) got interested in it, along with a few other neighbors, Dennis Wolf and John Clinton,” Doug explains. “We all got discs and started playing on the St. Andrews course — they allowed us to play there without any problem.”
By spring, the residents had met a group of students at the college who played regularly and invited them to teach the group and other residents how to play. “We were amazed at how far they could throw the discs,” says Doug.
The students agreed and took time for a few socially distanced lessons outside at the community. “We had about 13 or so men and women attend,” says Doug. “The students showed us the proper way to hold the discs and what each disc would do… and games to help with our putting.”
Soon, with the support of the community, a few portable disc golf cages were acquired and used to create a temporary nine-hole disc golf course on the Scotia campus. Since then, interest in the game has drawn many different residents to give it a try and inspired the installation of three permanent cages on campus with plans for installing six more early in 2021 to complete the nine-hole course. The last three holes will finish up near the frog garden, a popular outdoor spot on campus.
With several of the original players now able to throw discs farther and with greater accuracy, the course has been designed with forward and back tee boxes to make the holes more challenging for experienced players and easier for new players.
For Doug, the game has a number of distinct advantages over regular golf. For one thing, nine holes of disc golf can take less than an hour. Plus, there are courses located all over and most of them are free and open to the public. There’s even another course at the local senior center in Laurinburg that is free to play.
The discs come in different weights and sizes for long, mid-range and short shots. Even though regular players often have their own sets of discs, the community has two complete sets that residents can borrow.
Disc golf has also been a welcome distraction from the ongoing pandemic. Since the game is always played outside it’s easy to keep a safe distance from other players while getting exercise.
The original group of resident players meets regularly a couple of times a week, and welcomes any residents to come out to play a round or learn about the sport. As Doug explains, it’s easy to just go out and play anytime. “I’d call Tom and say, ‘hey, you want to go play?’” he explains. “We could go play nine holes and be back in less than an hour.”
Although the chilly weather and the pandemic has put a pause on new players joining in, Doug is looking forward to introducing the sport to more residents when the time is right.
“Once spring comes and we get past the COVID pandemic I think we can have an open day where people can come out and try the sport without feeling they have to compete with the guys who have been playing longer,” Doug says.
“I think some of the other PHI communities are thinking about adding disc golf courses, as well,” he adds. “And it will be part of our PHI Olympics…”
Doug and his wife, Kathy, moved to Scotia Village from Florence, SC, in November of 2019.