Valley Disc Golf Courses Are Starting to Fly

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Back in 2014, Justin Edwards of Struthers had to travel to Mosquito Lake in Trumbull County or various places in western Pennsylvania to play disc golf, because there were no courses in Mahoning County.

A lot has since changed since then, Edwards noted as he looked upon the new nine-hole course he designed at Mauthe Park in Struthers. The course, which opened in October, is one of a handful of disc golf courses in Mahoning County.

Disc golf combines the sport of golf, where the lowest number of strokes to a hole wins, with the activity of throwing a disc. A basket mounted on a pole, with chains dangling from the top, is the hole.

Mill Creek MetroParks Farm in Canfield, Wick Park in Youngstown, Boardman High School, Boardman Park and Mauthe Park in Struthers have some of the many disc golf courses in the Mahoning Valley and nearby western Pennsylvania. New courses are planned for Salem and Columbiana.

The Mahoning Valley Disc Golf Association and the Youngstown Disc Golf Club run leagues and tournaments.

Edwards expected 20 to 25 people at a weekly Mahoning Valley Disc Golf Association league outing at Mauthe Park earlier this week.

He also designed the course at Boardman Park, which opened in 2016. For its first tournament, Edwards said he was thrilled to have 50 people enter. Another outing is scheduled for August, and those 72 spots were taken in less than two hours.

“It’s really exciting,” Edwards says of the sport’s growth.

Planning the course at Mauthe Park started two-and-a-half years ago as Edwards approached the park superintendent about the idea of a disc golf course. The Struthers Rotary Club, with some grant monies from the national chapter and fundraising, helped to pay for the project.

Paul McLauglin of Kent comes to the weekly Mahoning Valley Disc Golf Association league event on his way home from work in Pittsburgh as a way of getting rid of the day’s stress.

Edwards says the cost for nine disc golf baskets, concrete slabs at each “tee,” the yard markers beside them and other costs comes to around $10,000 for a course. The upkeep consists of simply mowing the grass around the course, which normally occurs through school or park maintenance.

“It can coexist with what’s already in a park, so it’s a great way to use space that’s otherwise underutilized,” Edwards says.

Playing disc golf is free since most of the courses are on public lands. The discs are not the normal, beach-style Frisbee brand. They are smaller and sturdier, and can be found at some local stores and online starting at $10.

Edwards recommends beginning disc golfers start with a putter disc “because it’s the easiest to throw straight and hard enough that you’re going to get a full flight out of it compared to the drivers [disc]. If you can’t throw that far, you’re gonna get discouraged quickly.”

Some local courses are encompassed by wooded areas and others are in wide-open parks, such as Mauthe and Wick. Edwards encourages beginning golfers to embrace the latter of the two venues.

For people like Paul McLaughlin of Kent, playing disc golf is an outlet. He works in Pittsburgh and comes to Struthers every Monday for league play. He’s met some new friends while playing.

“They critique my playing,” he says. “I appreciate it. I throw better, and it’s just having a great time.”

Carmen Quattro of Boardman started playing disc golf three years ago. This form of golf is better for him.

“So much more enjoyable because I’m not good at regular golf,” he says.

Marissa Gartland of Austintown comes to disc golf events with her boyfriend, Quattro. On Monday, she started playing the sport herself. She says she’s doing well and wants to keep getting better.

Regular golf is not a possibility for her since she tore her right rotator cuff and cannot raise her arm. The motion of throwing a disc is much more suitable for her.

“This swing doesn’t hurt at all,” she says.

Edwards says he showed a group of Struthers High School students the finer points of disc golf at Mauthe Park this spring, creating exposure for the sport.

He says just about everyone has thrown a flying disc in their backyard or on the beach, but the combination of the pastime with golf is new for a lot of people.

“It’s trying to raise awareness and get people playing,” Edwards says. “It’s such a user-friendly sport for the whole family, really, and you can’t beat [the fact that it is] free.”

Pictured at top: Justin Edwards, a disc course designer, is at one of his places he helped get off the ground in Struthers – Mauthe Park. Monday, the Mahoning Valley Disc Golf Association was there for its weekly league event.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.