Fore! JP II Park hosts disc golf play

By 
Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Jul. 30, 2009

A modern take on an old sport – disc golf – may soon be coming to Dorchester. For some two years now, Nathan Robbins and Rob McArthur of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have been working to build a disc golf course at Pope John Paul II Park.

“It’s a great recreational opportunity for all ages, it’s affordable, and you can play it anywhere in the country, at any time.” said Robbins, who plays the game himself, at the second of three demonstration days at PJP II Park last Saturday.

Mark Stegleman takes a shot.Mark Stegleman takes a shot.

Disc golf is a variation on the traditional country-club favorite in which players use modified Frisbees, called “flying discs” by enthusiasts. Like regular golf, the object is to sink a disc into the target hole in as few tries as possible, in this case by tossing them into metal baskets.

Aficionados laud disc golf as a more accessible and more affordable alternative to its ancestor sport. In contrast to regular golf’s popular association with snooty country clubs and corporate social events, the upstart disc golf exists in a down-to-earth culture of good times, good laughs, simple fun, and friends.

“The British champ let me sleep on his floor,” said 22-year-old Erik Siersdale in a story evocative of disc golfers’ laid back attitudes. Siersdale, who attended the demonstration day on Saturday with five friends, has an extensive disc golfing career, which has brought him to several tournaments around the U.S., the UK, and Denmark. A recent college grad, he wears ironic tee shirts and shorts to a course instead of polos and khakis, and dosen’t belong to any country club.

“Disc golf has a much lower entry bar than with regular golf. said Dorchester resident and player Phil Lindsay. “It’s cheaper. Outside of a couple of bucks for parking, it really doesn’t cost a lot. All you really need to do is dedicate the space to play. You don’t have to cut the grass or do a lot of landscaping. It’s a green sport with a low impact on the environment.”

Disc Golf has popped up sporadically around the country since college students first started tossing the discs around empty pie pans. In the past 40 years, the sport has gained a large following, including leagues, championships, merchandise, and even a number of magazines. Disc golfers have also created their own specialized regulation equipment – from special baskets to modified flying discs that follow a particular flightpath. There are already 18 disc golf courses in Massachusetts.

“There is a lot of desire for bringing disc golf to Boston,” said Robbins “[If completed] this course will present a unique experience for the park and for Dorchester.”

“It’s fun!” said Mahesh Kshirsajar, a consultant from Quincy. “I’m not really good at regular golf so this would be a good alternative.”

But not all were as enthusiastic. A Jamaica Plain photographer worried that the photographic beauty of the park would be destroyed.

“That’s the first complaint we’ve had in both [demonstration] days,” said McArthur of the photographer’s comments. “ He said the next demonstration should be some time in September, followed by community consultation.