By BRIANA O’Hara
FONDA — A new popular outdoor recreational activity is finally making its way to the Mohawk Valley region with the creation of a disc golf course set to open this fall.
Montgomery County will be getting the first disc golf course of the area which will be located at the Thomas H. Burbine Memorial Forest.
“I think it’s going to be a very popular destination,” said Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort.
The idea to create a course in the area for the growing sport came from Montgomery County resident Mark Hay, who plays regularly himself, saw the need for a course closer by, and took the opportunity to propose the idea to Ossenfort after seeing that there was a need to utilize space at the forest.
There are disc golf courses throughout the Capital Region in Middle Grove, Schenectady, Niskayuna, Malta, Troy, Greenwhich and Albany where local tournaments are played.
“Disc golf is a rapidly growing game not only around the world but locally in the Capital Region,” Hay said. “This past year alone has seen new courses opening at Shenantaha Creek in Malta, Prospect Park in Troy and Christ the King Center in Greenwich. Along with Burbine, there is another course in the works in Schenectady, as well as in Duanesburg.”
Hay said local tournaments sell out quickly, within the hour, and have a waitlist to get in. Weekly leagues run almost every day at different area courses. The outdoor recreational activity has seen a huge surge in popularity especially since the start of the pandemic as it is a sport that can be played while social distancing.
Disc golf is play similarly to regular golf, but rather than using a golf club and balls, a disk and metal baskets are used.
“Disc golf uses metal baskets and similar to golf, players attempt to make the disc into the basket and the person with the least number of throws at the end of the game wins,” Ossenfort said.
The course being created in the Thomas H. Burbine Memorial Forest will feature 18 holes that weave through the forest.
Hay, who helped design the course there will be some challenging holes through the wooded area. The course is expected to be completed this fall in which the county will hold a soft opening, and a grand opening will be held in the spring.
Ossenfort said the county Soil and Water District has done a lot of work recently at the Burbine Forest including work on hiking and walking trails and work done on the pond area, and thanks them for work the work done.
Hay, who takes his children to the Burbine Forest for hiking and camping, said he saw an article in the newspaper in which the county was looking for a need for more uses for the rest of the property and thought it would make the “perfect destination” for disc golf, so with the lack of courses in the region, he expressed the idea of the course to Ossenfort.
“There are not too many courses in the general area which is why I proposed it to Matt,” Hay said.
The county then began working on the course before the start of the pandemic.
“In the spring, we can hopefully start having tournaments,” Hay said.
Similar to golf, disc golf can be played with different discs or the game can be played using only one disc. Just like ball golf, there are different discs for different shots — putters, midranges and drivers. Depending on the disc and the player, the disc can be made to fade left or right to shape shots around trees.
An 18 hole game can be played within one and a half to two hours.
“If Burbine is a success I would love to find a park in the area to install a more beginner friendly course to expose new people to the game especially kids,” Hay said.
Not only is disc golf something that can be played while maintaining social distance, it also can be played year-round and is a low cost game.
“The great thing about Disc Golf is that anyone can play. A course can be installed for far less than a traditional golf course.
Once installed, a course like Burbine, in the woods requires minimal maintenance and can be played all year long,” Hay said. “Most courses are free to play and discs only cost $10 to $20 a piece making it very affordable.”
The Montgomery County Legislature passed a resolution in August authorizing the creation of the disc golf course.
The resolution states, “the Montgomery County Legislature wishes to promote tourism and recreation in Montgomery County; whereas and it is anticipated that creating a disc golf course at the Thomas H. Burbine Memorial Forest will not only be a resource for Montgomery County residents but also promote tourism to the area.”
The disc golf course will be funded through the Occupancy Tax Reserve Fund. The county has allocated $9,500 with the cost not expected to exceed $13,000. Funds are available due to the fact that they did not have the Tourism Grant Program this year due to COVID-19.