Before ! Disc golf organization hopes to grow

A player looks down at his target, shifting his weight from his back foot to his front as he makes a few practice swings at the tee box. Focusing on the hole, he steps forward, lets his arm fly in the air and…throws a disc towards the wire basket.

Players headed to Little Harbor Country Club on Wednesday afternoon for a day-long disc golf tournament held on the back nine. The event was organized by the Cranberry Country Disc Golf Association, a Plymouth County-based group looking to expand across the county, including Wareham.

Two of Cranberry Country’s main organizers, Marcus Gomes and Josh Quackenbush, spent the day introducing players to Little Harbor’s temporary disc golf course — and playing a few holes themselves.

Players compete with different types of discs – drivers, mid-range discs and putters, as in regular golf – and try to land their disc in a metal basket in a minimum of throws. Disc golf requires fewer clearcuts of trees than regular golf courses, Quackenbush pointed out, which was evident as players navigated through wooded areas toward their goal Wednesday.

Although Cranberry Country was established in 2014, the organization has made an effort over the past year to expand from its origins in Middleboro and Lakeville to the rest of the county, Gomes and Quackenbush said.

That could mean exploring the possibility of designing a more permanent course somewhere in Wareham, Quackenbush said. The organization hopes to hold another temporary course at Wareham in the future, in September.

Gomes said he had spoken with Wareham Secondary School principal Scott Palladino about bringing the sport to pupils. Elsewhere on the south coast, teachers from Old Rochester Regional High School also seek to introduce sport into the classroom.

In a phone call Thursday, Palladino said Gomes, also a WHS alumnus, contacted him just under a year ago about the match. What the school is planning now, Palladino said, is to include a unit on disc golf in students’ physical education classes. The school purchased a few portable disc golf hoops and discs for the unit, he said.

“Hopefully it will take off,” Palladino said of students’ interest in the game. If there’s momentum and funding, he said there might be a possibility. to set up a permanent course around the school. But it’s an idea for the future.

“I hope it will come to fruition though,” he said, adding that disc golf is an inclusive sport that anyone can play.

Quackenbush, who is also a disc golf course designer, said he started playing disc golf casually in the 1990s and then more competitively around 2009. He was one of the designers of the Sunnymede course in Middleboro.

About a decade ago, there were about 15 disc golf courses in Massachusetts, he said.

Now there are more than 50 to 60 courses statewide, Quackenbush said.

“We’ve seen our numbers grow,” he said of joining the Professional Disc Golf Association, the national organization that oversees the sport.

Disc golf saw an explosion of interest when the pandemic began, Quackenbush said, because it is primarily an outdoor game where players can spend time together while social distancing.

In Little Harbor on Wednesday, several dozen players visited the course to try out the temporary course. The Fitchburg-based store was also present Disc Golf 978which had a wide variety of discs, apparel, and other disc golf materials available for purchase.

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