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Old English offers golf with a twist

Disc golf adds another entertainment element to 18-hole course

August 13, 2008
The Old English Golf Course has been a positive source of entertainment in Crawford County since it opened in 2002. It gave many people in the community, even some who had never played golf before, the opportunity to enjoy the game and learn on a well-designed course close to home. Now, the course is also offering something different — disc golf.

The game is played much like regular golf, with many of the same rules, but instead of using golf clubs and balls, disc golf utilizes a disc that is thrown like a Frisbee. And instead of a hole, the disc is thrown into a metal basket that is mounted on a short stand.

David Greenwell, 14-time world champion disc golfer, tries to get the disc into the basket at the Old English Golf Course. The course has now installed 18 baskets and hopes to lure disc golfers from as far away as Chicago, Ft. Wayne and St. Louis. (Photo by Lee Cable)
"We have installed 18 new baskets on poles on the course," Cary Hammond, one of the owners, said. "The baskets are about five feet high and about the size of a bushel basket. Chains hang down from the top of the baskets. The disc hits the chains and falls into the basket, and it has to be in the basket to count. The low score wins, just like in regular golf."

The discs look similar to a Frisbee, but are heavier, more aerodynamic and fly much farther.

"The driver is the heaviest," Hammond said. "It can be thrown further than the others. I've seen them thrown 250 feet. A mid-range disc can be thrown about 100 feet. A lighter one can't be thrown as far, but can provide more control. One used as a 'putter' is usually good for about 25 feet. A lot of engineering has gone into these discs. Some have been designed to curve to the left, some will curve to the right. And there are slicers and hookers. Some of the guys that play a lot can throw them around corners to a basket. And some of the discs will stay in the air for as long as 10 to 15 seconds. We have some elevated tees here, and the discs thrown from those will stay in the air a long time."

David Greenwell, a 14-time world champion disc player from Louisville, had been trying to convince Hammond to add the baskets to the regular course at English for a while.

"David is the Arnold Palmer of disc golf," Hammond said. "He actually designs courses. He has been coming here a couple of years and has been wanting us to add disc golf. The United States Disc Golf Association supplied some of the funding for installing the baskets, so we went ahead with it. In September, we'll hold a high roller disc golf championship here, which will have a $30,000 purse. If that works out, the Masters of disc golf will be held here at Old English the second week in May. It will actually be called 'The Masters.' "

There are a few disc golf courses in the area, usually located in small parks, such as Buffalo Trace Park in Palmyra, but Old English Golf Course is one of the first to offer disc golf on a professional grade golf course.

"This course is championship caliber," Hammond said. "But we're also set up so that families and beginners can come and enjoy playing. We'll also be targeting grade schools in the area and hope that schools in the county will have disc golf teams. Kids from Crawford County will be able to play free of charge and we hope that at some point teams from Perry and other counties will come here and compete.

"Disc golf is good family fun. If a family of four goes to a movie or plays putt-putt golf, they can expect to pay at least $40 or $50. Now, a family of four can play here and we have a package that includes pizza and soft drinks, a golf cart and rental discs for $39.

"And we have a lake here where they can often see an eagle, and see it catch fish. We also have an abundance of deer, otters and turkey all around that can often be seen from the golf course. There is no other disc golf course around that offers golf carts, manicured tees and has food and drinks available."

The baskets for disc golf are located several yards from the main holes at the course. Some are actually in the trees or in areas where they can barely be seen, making the game much more interesting and complicated. Some ball golfers have asked if the disc golfers will be in the way, or slow things down at the tees, but Hammond insists that there should be no hold up.

"Disc golfers can move around at about the same speed as ball golfers," Hammond said. "No one holds up anyone else. It takes about 12 to 15 minutes for disc golfers to play a hole, about the same as ball golfers. And a lot of times, ball golfers stop and watch the disc golfers play a hole. It's really interesting and entertaining to watch them play."

Hammond hopes that adding disc golf at Old English Golf Course will increase options for those who may want to vacation in the area.

"There's several businesses in this area that are marketing family vacations," Hammond said. "And this area has a lot to offer. There's Marengo Cave, Holiday World and, of course, French Lick. People can rent a pontoon at Patoka Lake, canoe down Blue River, go hiking at Hemlock Cliffs or camp at Sycamore Springs. They can also rent an A-frame cabin at Patoka. And most things in this area are priced so families can afford to come here. And if more families vacation here, they will stay longer, and bring more money into the area.

"A lot of times, when families go on vacation, they don't take their golf clubs with them. With disc golf, that's not a problem, we have them here.

"As far as ball golf, we have captured a lot of the local market. A lot of local people that had never played before began playing golf after we opened. We have a lot of seniors who play regularly. We even have a seniors golf scramble every Thursday. But we also want to make it attractive for more young people, and I believe disc golf will help with that."

For more information on the disc golf program at Old English Golf Course, call 338-3748 or go online at www.oldenglishgolf.com.

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