Cabarrus County park officials estimate that about 12,000 people have used the county’s first 18-hole disc golf course since it opened May 31, and that demand has spawned a Saturday winter doubles disc golf league, which will kick off Nov. 1.
The course, which sprawls across Frank Liske Park in Concord, was created through a partnership with the Rotary Club of Cabarrus County, Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Cabarrus County Active Living and Parks.
On opening day, nearly 200 disc golfers waited to play the first round, said Active Living and Parks Program Supervisor Benjamin Sharpe. It is averaging about 100 players per day.
“The hope was to build a tournament-ready facility that would provide enough (of a) challenge to bring in top-level players – not just locally, but nationally as well,” Sharpe said.
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“The idea was for players of all skill levels to enjoy our course and gain experience playing with restrictions, such as out-of-bounds penalties, and some stress trying to play to a certain score based on their handicap.”
Formalized in the 1970s, disc golf is played much like golf, according to pdga.com. Instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc, which is thrown from a tee area to a a raised metal basket. The object is to complete each hole in the fewest throws.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Park and Recreation in 2012 hosted the Professional Disc Golf Association’s World Championships, so this new course pairs nicely with several others in the region. And a youth league for elementary, middle and high school students will kick off in the spring.
“We are hopeful that our seasonal leagues will grow,” Sharpe said. “Additionally, we are expanding on the tournaments we held at North Cabarrus Park over the last 18 months to include some at Frank Liske. And we will continue to provide tournaments and events at both facilities as we grow.”
Frank Liske Park has been open and operating nature classes, athletic programs and family activities since 1982, Sharpe said. In 2007, the county began to move away from athletics to include nature education.
The goal was to keep people active through adult and youth sports, but recently those numbers started to decline. So Sharpe and others began looking at alternatives, such disc golf and kick ball.
There are nine-hole courses at North Cabarrus Park and Dorton Park, and a few courses on Cabarrus County Schools’ property, Sharpe said.
The course at Frank Liske has two sets of tees. The Gold Course is 7,664 feet, with the longest hole measuring 651 feet, while the shortest is 231 feet. The Blue Course is 5,232 feet, with the longest hole at 429 feet and the shortest at 198 feet.
Mount Pleasant High School graduate Jimmy Burton, 32, has been playing disc golf for about 12 years. He played the Frank Liske course Oct. 15 for the first time.
“The course is very, very awesome,” he said. “It’s very pristine out here: concrete tee pads on every hole, nice marked signage, flags that tell you where the next tee box is, the greens and the fairways are taken care of extremely well, beautiful baskets – I mean, you just can’t ask for too much better.”
The course’s beauty is on par with its level of difficulty, Burton said.
“People might mistake it when they come out here and see a bunch of open holes – nothing but a wide field to play in – but it’s a lot more challenging than you’d expect,” he said. “I believe it’s holes six, seven and eight, when you’re coming around the woods – very challenging, as far as hitting trees and blind shots. …”
Nigel Murray, 24, has lived in Harrisburg since 2001. He said he’s played the Frank Liske course about 20 times. He describes it as a tough course for newbies but a good one to learn on because it’s so open.
“It’s a lot more open compared to pretty much every other course in the area,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher than it seems because you have to worry about the wind, but I like it. It’s fun. And be prepared to walk. It’s definitely a power course.”
Brandon Jones, 26, from Charlotte, has played about six times at Frank Liske and said he plays all the courses in Mecklenburg regularly.
“It’s different, it’s nice,” he said. “It’s good to test out new discs and new strategies because it is forgiving. It’s not the best course for beginners because its length could get you discouraged, but it’s definitely different than anything you’ve played in Charlotte. It’s truly a different game here.”