BELLA VISTA Now that Bella Vista has its own disc golf course at the Branchwood Recreation Center, two residents are busy forming leagues to play there. Richard and Valerie Frazier are ready to introduce anyone who is interested to disc golf.
It’s a sport that can be played by almost anyone, Richard Frazier said. He’s seen people throw discs from wheelchairs and he knows an 80-year-old man who plays daily. But part of his interest in the sport is on behalf of the younger generation. Disc golf is a way to get kids “unplugged” and outside.The couple’s 17-year-old son, Logan, is already playing at a professional level.
There are several clubs in the area and Frazier has been involved with all of them. Most recently he’s been organizing “mini’s” — nine-hole tournaments for the Rogers Club, DGO. Many of the schools around Washington and Benton Counties have disc golf courses on campus, so when school is out there are lots of places to play.
“It’s all about growing the sport,” he said.
Disc golf started in the 1950s. The first goals were made out of tire rims, Logan Frazier said.
It’s not an expensive sport, Richard Frazier said. Although there may be fees for tournaments, most of the courses, including Branchwood, are completely free. Any one can walk on with a couple of discs and play a round by themselves or with a group.
The more serious players own more discs and use them for specific types of shots. There are drivers, mid-range discs and putters for the short throws. The game is played like golf, although typically the holes are shorter than a golf hole.
At Branchwood, an 18-hole disc golf course has been created where there used to be a nine-hole regular golf course. Some of the new disc golf goals are located off the original course. It takes about two hours to play, but a newcomer may take longer, he said.
Most disc golf holes are 300 to 400 feet and it takes some practice to throw that distance. Beginners typically throw about 100 feet, he explained.
At Branchwood, the disc golf players share the course with walkers and that’s never been a problem, Richard Frazier said. He’s met some nice people out walking the trails. He always waits for walkers to pass by so he doesn’t have to worry about hitting them with a disc.
“Everybody always asks us about the game,” Valerie Frazier said.
“You just go out and have fun,” Richard Frazier said, “We laugh at each other. You can’t take it too seriously.
There are a lot of disc golf tournaments that aren’t free, Richard Frazier said, but they aren’t expensive either. Sometimes the fees goes to buy some prizes for the winners. His mini tournaments often use gift certificates from a disc golf store as a prize.
There’s also a system of tags that players earn by beating other tagged players. The tags are produced by a club. At the end of the round, the winner gets the highest tag that’s available so if a player with a high numbered tag beats a player with a lower number, the winner gets the low numbered tag. The tag system and the tournament prizes are mostly for fun, Frazier said. It makes playing in a group more fun and more exciting.
He’s also seen some interesting wildlife on disc golf courses.
Logan Frasier watched a snake eat a frog one time, he said. His father saw a hawk take a squirrel and one time saw a bobcat not far from Rogers High School. They’ve also taken some nice photos of deer who don’t seem to mind the disc golf players near by.
The area really needs a junior league, Frazier said. Children as young as four or five can play. Juniors can play on any course, but there is one course dedicated to the younger players at JB Hunt Park in Springdale.
“I want to leave a legacy for my kids,” he said.
He plans to talk to POA representatives about adding a disc golf course for the east side, possibly in the Metfield area.
He’s also recruiting players with an informal workshop every Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
He brings his own portable goal and a bag full of discs to the Veterans Wall of Honor near Lake Bella Vista. If no one else is around, he practices his putting. But if anyone wants to learn about disc golf, he’s happy to lend them a couple of discs and show them how it’s done.
The Fraziers keep in touch with other disc golf players through a Facebook page dedicated to disc golf. Search for Bella Vista Ar. Disc Golf and send them a message through the page.