Did you know the headquarters of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) is right here in the CSRA and attracts 50,000 visitors a year? The sport’s member organization and governing body is nestled among the trees at Wildwood Park, a seventy-five acre tract along Clarks Hill Lake in Appling.
Aiken resident Henry Hamilton began playing in 2008 and is now the president of the Augusta Disc Golf Association. This tight-knit community of more than 100 members gets together for tournaments, fundraising events and other activities.
“Disc golf attracts people from all backgrounds,” Hamilton says. “And it’s very inexpensive. You can start playing with a single $15 disc, and there are no green fees on most courses.”
Haley Childs, a professional player in Harlem, Georgia, threw her first disc in 2014. “I was immediately drawn to the sport,” she says. “It let me hang out with friends, get outdoors and exercise all at the same time.” Childs now plays in about 20 tournaments a year. She is married to Joshua Childs, another local disc golf professional, and has two children who also play.
“I love the camaraderie of the sport,” Childs says. “Disc golfers are like a family … once you’re in, you’re in. And it happens fast.”
She especially encourages women to play. “Don’t be intimidated by your initial skill level. There’s a division for everyone,” she says.
Jerry “Swami” Swain, a passionate player who manages the disc golf courses on Fort Gordon, says that many people just don’t get disc golf until they’ve played their first round. “Then most of them come back for more,” he says. “There’s no steep learning curve, and anyone from children to seniors can play. It’s great exercise, too. I lost 12 pounds the first year I played.”
New courses are popping up everywhere: on school and university campuses, military bases, campgrounds, vacant lots in rural areas, and in city, county and state parks.
The International Disc Golf Center in Appling: Everybody’s Home Courses
Disc golfers from Sweden to South Africa to Singapore consider the three courses at The International Disc Golf Center (IDGC) in Wildwood Park in Appling their home courses. The center attracts 50,000 visitors a year and offers free group or family clinics.
The courses accommodate all levels of play, from beginner to professional.
“Our courses are some of the most scenic in the Southeast,” says IDGC Manager Zach Shafer. “They overlook Clarks Hill Lake and traverse granite formations, ravines and creeks.” The site is known for hawks, bald eagles, redheaded woodpeckers, deer and other wildlife.
“The IDGC courses are great places to take a hike and throw some discs,” Zach says. “That’s what recreational disc golf is all about.”