COEUR d'ALENE - Its motto, 'the fastest growing sport you've never heard of,' might not be true anymore.
Four short years ago, maybe, but now it might be better to just say the 'fastest growing sport, period.'
"It's been crazy the past year, it's gotten so much bigger," said Tyler Blum, North Idaho Disc Golf Club member, on the sharp rise in the sport's popularity across the world. "It's gotten huge."
What's disc golf?
It's like golf, but with Frisbee-like discs. Tee-offs don't require swings, just hurls, but you're still aiming for the pin, which in disc golf is a standing basket. And the sport's players classify themselves as more than mere enthusiast.
Blum's description: "You're addicted."
Saturday, the NIDGC hosted its second tournament of the North Idaho Disc Golf Series at Cherry Hill Park. Around two dozen players took aim at the chained baskets over 36 holes competing for cash and prizes. It was the first tourney at the newly laid-out course, which has been built up from scratch by volunteers over the last four years.
"It's a pretty relaxed culture," said club member Geoff Carr, while he stood on the fairway of the third hole, which, like many of the holes, is a trek for golfers as it's covered in trees and heads uphill.
Only in his mid-30s, Carr's been playing for a few years but already bemoans missed time in the sport.
"I kind of wish I knew about it when I was younger," he said.
What is it about disc golf that's making the sport grow?
It's not just a regional thing, either. Even though the NIDGC's membership has nearly doubled in the last year to around 50 members, club members said, it's a trend that's reflected across the world. Just look at the huge turnout at this year's Euro Major disc golf open in Stockholm, Sweden.
"It's just good to get out of the house," said Ted Morris, a beginner playing in his first tourney, on why he took up the sport.
The novice player didn't let inexperience ruin his day, though admitted he has a long way to go to sharpen his skills.
"Pretty bad," he said of his 79 score after the first round. "I know if I didn't hit that tree six times in a row. . ."
It's the perfect part of competition and exercise, other players said on the sport's draw.
"I'd easily be this much bigger," said Dan Gibbs, disc golfer helping out at the tourney, putting his arms out to his side as though he held a tire around his waist. "I'd be at home watching movies."
Cherry Hill Park doubles as the city's prime sledding area, so, yeah the course is hilly (the sixth hole sits atop the main sledding hill, with the basket nearly 600 feet away). Add in the trees around the main sledding hill and you've got some tough shots, which the players enjoy.
And like golf, players carry bags, but instead of an array of clubs, they have loads of different discs. Putters are heavier and don't fly as far so if you miss it doesn't carry on you, while lighter weight discs tend to be drivers. Different grips and arm angles with different discs yield different flight patterns, so there is a lot for a player to learn. The tomahawk throw is all overhand best used for going straight over a tree. Need a smooth slide to the left? Go sidearm.
The tournament was directed by Ben Squires, ranked No. 1 by Idaho's Professional Disc Golf Association, who helped lay out the new course. But you didn't have to be a pro to take part. Like 12-year-old Nathan Brown, who competed in the junior division. Attribute people like Nathan to the sport's growth. He's been playing for about a year, got his friends to pick up the game, and plans on playing his whole life.
"It's just fun," he said.