A new recreational area has been created at Crooked Creek State Park.
The sport is known as “disc golf”, or sometimes referred to by a commercial product name, “Frisbee”. Players recreationally as well as competitively throw the disc into baskets, similar to putting the ball into a hole in ball golf.
Organizer Eric Jageman called “disc golf” the number two growing sport in the United States. Jageman, an active player, has played on over 30 courses in western Pennsylvania.
“It’s played similar to ball golf. There is a tee position where you throw your first throw from. There is a metal basket with chains. That is the ‘hole’. There are par-3, par-4, par-5 – exactly like golf, except it is not on a manicured fairway. You play directly through the obstacles (trees, brush, water, and so on).”
Jageman said there are different types of discs just as there are different types of clubs in golf.
“There are distance drivers, fairway drivers, mid-range and many others. There are different sizes, different weights, different shapes, made of different materials. Every disc has four numbers that tell you exactly what that disc is going to do.
“I look at each shot and select the disc that will work for that shot. I have to determine the obstacles in my way. You pick your Frisbee just like you pick your golf driver.”
Jageman said for the beginner, there are local stores that sell three beginner discs to a package. He said it is a good starting point to get your arm used to throwing them various distances.
“Every course is different. Your par-3 is normally around 180-300 feet. Your par-4 can get to 500 feet. One course in Hermitage has one that is 1,200 feet. They determine par by how many obstacles are in the way. The one in Hermitage is 1,200 feet but it is wide open, so it is only a par-3.”
Jageman said each bag can be reconfigured three different ways to completely change how you have to play it.
Jageman belongs to the Pittsburgh Flying Disc non-profit organization that is growing the sport by getting youth involved as well as women and senior citizens.
“In 2015, the world championship came to Pittsburgh and played. Anyone who was a fan of the sport was there. They played between four different courses in the Pittsburgh area.”
Jageman hopes that the Crooked Creek course can grow from a nine-hole course into an 18-hole course that can make it a destination location and attract many disc golfers from western Pennsylvania.
“It’s great exercise and it’s free! I think that is why it is growing as big as it is. There are not too many sports that require little equipment and has free places to play.”
While free to play, the course at Crooked Creek required some money to get it started.
“The Park got a grant for $4,000 and purchased the first nine baskets. Ultimately the courses that will get people to travel and play are 18-hole courses. We hope to be able to soon make it an 18-hole course. We already have the layout that the Park approved. It’s a matter of getting volunteers to help do the work and getting the funds.”
Jageman said over 500 volunteer hours have been given to help clear the land for the first nine baskets. There are still cement tee pads that need funded and installed. Troop 554 assisted with installation of one tee pad already, but more sponsors and volunteers are needed.
“We have a lot of people in the community that are being a part of this as the word gets out about it. Individuals or businesses can sponsor individual tee signs by calling the Park Ranger office and discussing it with them.”
The Park office number is 724-763-3161. For those wishing to play, the first tee pad is easy to find.
“You go back Crooked Creek Dam Road 1.6 miles and pull into the Justice Pavilion. That is where the first hole starts,” Jageman said.