Orange County residents can look forward to a new recreational opportunity come springtime: disc golf.
Easier than traditional golf and more challenging than a Frisbee toss, the hybrid sport involves landing a plastic disc in a series of metal baskets on poles. It has caught on in nearby counties, and Tim Moubray, director of Orange County Parks & Recreation, believes it will be a local hit as well.
Orange County’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) has allocated 18 acres of a 30-acre parcel at Thomas E. Lee Industrial Park, located off Route 15 between Orange and Gordonsville, for the disc golf course. Orange County Economic Development Director Phil Geer said he has not ruled out the possibility of a business locating its operations on the site in the future, but the hilly terrain makes that unlikely.
The idea for the course started as a collaboration among Moubray, Jayson Woods, parks and recreation services coordinator, and former economic development director Tommy Miller. Moubray and Woods had been interested in getting the sport going in Orange County but did not have a place for it until Miller offered the parcel at the industrial park. “I met Tommy at the site and immediately saw that I loved what we had to work with,” Moubray said.
Open from dawn to dusk
When Miller left for another job, Moubray said he and Woods feared “the dream was dead.” But Geer and Orange County Economic Development Assistant Rose Deal assured them that was not the case, if parks and recreation wanted to pursue the project.
Players will walk the course, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding area. There will be no charge to play, and Moubray said the course will be open from dawn to dusk. People who simply want to go for a walk will be welcome, but Moubray said they must yield to those playing the sport.
The course will be located on Litchfield Drive across from Lohmann Corporation and St. Gabriel Organics. The construction of the parking lot will be underwritten by sales of walnut trees cut down on the course site. According to Geer, Waugh Logging purchased the trees for $13,000, which will cover more than half the parking lot construction costs.
Moubray and Woods are designing the course. On a recent ramble around the course-in-the-making, they showed off a few of the holes and demonstrated how the game is played.
The 18-hole course will have holes ranging in length from about 160 feet to 333 feet. All will be par 3, except for the 18th hole, the longest one, which will be a par 4. Trees, bushes and hills add interesting complications all over the course.
Special discs for ambitious players
For people just getting started, the game can be played with a single inexpensive disc—your average Frisbee or Frisbee knockoff. But Moubray and Woods explained that dedicated disc golfers carry a full bag of special discs designed to go a variety of distances and even tilt left or right.
There are three standard discs for players who have set aside the Frisbee with the dog’s teeth marks on it and want to excel at the sport.
The driver disc is a sort of weaponized Frisbee—very hard and thin and able to sail a great distance if you know how to throw it properly. “You don’t catch one of these,” Moubray explained with a grin. “They’ll hurt your hand.”
The mid-range disc will not sail as far as the driver but offers more control.
The putter feels like an old-fashioned Frisbee with attitude. It is heavier, easier to grip and more stable in flight than the other fancy discs.
Moubray explained that it is important to take a couple of strong steps up to the tee box before hurling the disc toward the hole. Both he and Woods took a careful look at the lay of the land before deciding which way to angle the disc.
When the disc went where it was supposed to, that was cause for smiles all around. When it ended up in the bushes or clunked against the basket without going in, it was no big deal. Disc golf can be as low-key or as competitive as you want it to be—but it makes for a nice walk and there is pleasure in watching the discs sail through the air.
As Woods put it, “It doesn’t require a lot of fitness. You can have fun right from the get-go.”
Join the Founder’s Club or sponsor a hole
To raise funds for the installation and maintenance of the course, the parks and recreation office has created two promotions, one geared mainly toward businesses and the other for individuals and families.
For $500, a business can sponsor a hole for three years. Sponsors will be listed on a sign in the course parking lot and on a sign near the tee box of the hole they are sponsoring. After the initial three-year commitment, continuing sponsorship costs $100/year.
Those who join the Founder’s Club for $20 will be contributing toward the cost of the practice basket, a feature similar to a practice putting green. Founders’ names will be listed on a permanent sign near the basket, and they will receive a commemorative putter disc with a logo that comes in a variety of colors. The Founder’s Club promotion is limited to 100. Moubray said 40-some discs have already been distributed to individuals and families supporting the new venture.
“So impressed with parks and rec”
Jess Cifizzari is among local residents looking forward to playing disc golf in Orange. When she saw the post about it on the Orange County Parks & Recreation Facebook page, she said, “I thought it was so fantastic.”
Cifizzari grew up in Orange and returned to town with her husband, Charles, and their two children five years ago. The 2002 graduate of Orange County High School learned how to play disc golf in a physical education class at Barton College in North Carolina and is looking forward to teaching the game to her daughter, Shayla, 11, and her son, Wyatt, 7.
Cifizzari let Wyatt pick out the Founder’s Club disc the family will use as their putter.
“I’m so impressed with parks and rec and all the things that they are offering,” she said.
Jennifer Mauller of Gordonsville takes a similar view. She and her husband, Joe, and their sons Owen, age 6, and Dylan, 11, have joined the Founder’s Club in happy anticipation of the local disc golf course.
Although she played the sport a long time ago, her husband and sons are new to it.
“We are an active, sporty kind of family, so the guys are pretty sure this sport will be really fun for them,” Mauller said.
She is pleased the course will be open to all, free of charge.
“Having free fun open to the community is a very good thing, perhaps especially so for our area teens,” Mauller said. “Even those who might not want to play will know the space is a public one to visit and enjoy—and it is a nice one with all of that green open space.”
For more information on the Founder’s Club and hole sponsorships, call Orange County Parks & Recreation at 672-5435 or email Tim Moubray at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about disc golf, see www.pdga.com.