Thanks to a local teen and a handful of disc-golf enthusiasts, one of the fastest growing sports in the country has arrived in Lake Mary
Are you looking for a fun way to spend a couple hours outdoors? Stop by Lake Mary’s Liberty Park off North Country Club Road to try your hand at disc golf. This easy-to-learn, up-and-coming sport was first formalized in the 1970s. Today, it’s gaining popularity across the country with more than 7,500 outdoor courses nationwide, and Lake Mary is now home to one of them. The city’s beautiful, wooded Liberty Park features a nine-hole disc-golf course perfect for beginners and fun for the whole family.
The game of disc golf evolved with the invention of the Frisbee. It’s similar to traditional golf, but instead of using a golf club and golf ball and aiming for a hole, disc-golf players throw flying discs and aim for an elevated metal basket where the disc is captured. Disc-golf courses are typically nine or 18 holes, and the object of the game is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws, starting from a tee area. Like regular golf, the player with the lowest total number of throws wins. Trees, shrubs, streams, and undulating terrain are natural obstacles that keep the game challenging and unpredictable.
What’s unique about disc golf, unlike traditional golf, is the low barrier to entry. Disc-golf courses are typically located in public parks, like Liberty Park, or are accessible for a small entry fee. There’s no need to rent a golf cart, and the upfront cost to invest in equipment is minimal. A three-disc starter kit costs as low as $20.
To get started, all you really need is a single disc (or even a basic Frisbee) and a willingness to learn something new, says Crooms Academy sophomore Reed Hancock, an avid disc-golf player who approached the City of Lake Mary with the idea to bring the sport to Liberty Park.
“When I first played disc golf, it was the most fun of my life,” says Reed. “I love not being confined to one area and being able to move around outside. I started taking my own basket to Liberty Park and moving it around to different areas. My little brother Graeme and I came up with a disc-golf course design for the park, and I approached the City with our idea and presented it to them.”
Within a few months, Liberty Park’s disc-golf course was up and running. With his mother’s help, Reed sourced a generous donation of nine unused disc-golf baskets from a nearby college, and the City of Lake Mary assisted with signage and installation of the course.
“Reed did so much of the work, and his design worked really well in the park’s layout,” says Gunnar Smith, the City of Lake Mary’s business manager. “Our Parks and Recreation board was very supportive of this project. It’s helped bring more activity to the park, and it’s great to see people out there enjoying it. It’s a very affordable and family-friendly game.”
Reed is a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association and competes in tournaments for fun. He recently competed in the 2019 DeBary Open, placing fifth in the intermediate division. Other local disc-golf players include college sophomore Trace Kiersnowski, who placed first in the tournament’s advanced division, and Longwood resident Cesar Hernandez, who placed 13th in the recreational division.
Trace and Cesar are both members of the DeBary Disc Golf Club.
“I started playing with my dad, who also competes, and we love it,” says Trace, who has been playing for six years and was recently named the 2019 PDGA Amateur Distance World Champion. “The sport is growing so much. It’s a friendly community of people, and we see more and more people getting interested in disc golf and coming out on the courses. I love that disc golf is coming to Lake Mary. Liberty Park is perfect for anybody who wants to try it or is just starting with disc golf. It’s similar to the first course I ever played on, and it’s a great course to be introduced to the sport.”
Cesar, who has been instrumental in promoting disc golf in the community, is on a mission to raise the profile of the sport and is actively recruiting players to join the new Seminole Disc Golf Club.
“When I first played, I didn’t even have any discs with me,” recalls Cesar. “I was in a park, and some kids gave me discs to throw. I fell in love right away. Even when I’m traveling around the country, I take my discs with me and check out nearby parks with courses. To me, it’s the best way to get to be outdoors, get some physical activity, and enjoy the peaceful outdoors. You can play recreationally, or you can challenge yourself to compete at a higher level. We’re a great group and are happy to show you the ropes.”
If you’re interested in joining the Seminole Disc Golf Club, search for the club on Facebook or contact Cesar at 321-432-4077. The club hosts monthly beginner classes at Lake Mary’s Liberty Park.
Georgia Enjoys a Morning of Disc Golf
After talking to Longwood resident Cesar Hernandez about his passion for disc golf, he invited our own Georgia Rivas out to Liberty Park to give it a try.
“I brought along my much more athletically-inclined husband, Stefan, and together we completed all nine holes!” exclaims Georgia. “Even though we may have lost a disc to a nearby stream (sorry about that, Cesar), we had a blast, and Cesar kindly gifted us with a few of his spare discs to keep up our game.”
Where to Play Around Town
Shane Kelly Park
1555 County Road 426, Oviedo
Free, open to the public
River City Nature Park
two 18-hole courses
200 Barwick Road, DeBary
Free, open to the public
Disc-golf sets are available to rent for $5 per day
Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake
Want More Information?
3401 South Hiawassee Road, Orlando
$2 per person or $5 per car