Mecklenburg County on Par with Best in Country
What’s it take to create one of the most widespread, accessible, and competitive network of world-class, public disc golf courses in the country? The winning recipe for the Charlotte area began with an active and interested disc golf community, and a great relationship with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.
“That relationship with the parks has been one that’s really provided us with a cutting-edge disc golf community,” said Henry Childres, a former board member of the Charlotte Disc Golf Club, and sales manager at Innova Disc Golf.
“It’s definitely a hotbed,” he added, “we’ve hosted world championships here, we’ve got some 450 active disc golf club members… and the potential for more courses.”
For those new to the sport, disc golf is probably what you imagine. Similar to “regular” golf, players are challenged to get their frisbee-like disc from tee to green in as few strokes as possible. And whether you know it or not, the Charlotte area is one of the hottest areas for this still growing sport. The Pro Disc Golf Association estimated the number of players and courses has nearly doubled in the last decade, and one of the largest manufacturers of disc golf equipment, Innova Disc Golf, is headquartered just down the road in Rock Hill.
Jack Moore has played more than 100 courses from New York to Florida and says the local real estate helps make area disc golf interesting, challenging, and inviting for all players.
“We have the perfect terrain for it,” he said. “It’s not flat, but not mountainous, either. The woods and the vegetation and the landscape come together to create a lot of variety and a lot of different looks.”
And with fourteen disc golf courses on Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation property alone, it’s clearly an accessible activity. But do you have to be any “good” to play?
“Absolutely not,” said Moore. “That’s the beauty of disc golf, really. On the course, no one really cares just how good you are at it, just as long as you’re out there having fun.”
For beginners, Moore recommended the course at Pinewood in Charlotte’s Madison Park neighborhood, and the “Eager Beaver” course at Elon Park in South Charlotte. The Charlotte Disc Golf Club website is a fantastic resource to find a course that meets your skill or interest level, directions, and in most cases, pictures, scorecards, and reviews.
Working together to build and maintain these courses is a team effort. It takes organizers, advocates, active club members, working with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation to make it a reality.
“The ability for the disc golf community to provide value for the public and the parks department, that’s (a lesson) for sure,” added Childres. “It really comes down to the disc golf community not just asking, but saying here’s how we can do it.”
Yes, disc golf provides the benefits of healthy competition, a walk in the woods, if you will, and keeping people outside and active and in the fresh air. But Moore says it the benefits go beyond that.
“There’s a real sense of community in the disc golf world,” he said, “you can just show up and make a new friend on the course.”