The Heber Valley has caught the wave of a global sporting trend: disc golf is on the rise, with the region playing its part in this rapid expansion. For those unacquainted, this popular sport uses rules similar to golf; however, instead of hitting balls into designated holes, players throw small plastic discs (think mini-Frisbees) at a target.
Disc golf is usually played on a course with 9 or 18 targets, which are wire baskets, hung with chains designed to catch the discs. Players throw a disc from a tee pad in hopes of landing it into a basket for a score. Similar to par, the goal is to complete each ‘hole’ in the least amount of total throws.
Formerly known as Frisbee golf, the sport originated in the early 1960s. Students at Rice University in Houston, Texas, used trees as targets. At the same time, those at Pendleton King Park in Augusta, Georgia, tossed Frisbees into 50-gallon metal trash cans. Today, the game, now known as disc golf, is exploding at an extraordinary rate.
In the US, 2022 saw an average of 4.3 disc golf courses installed daily, a 50% surge compared to 2021. The year’s close saw over 9,000 disc golf courses scattered across America, contributing to a worldwide tally of 14,048 courses spread over 40 countries (The 2022 Disc Golf Growth Report by UDisc, 2023). As of April 2023, there are 107,853 active members of the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) worldwide.
Even more attractive, 90% of disc golf courses invite players to tee off without charge, with only a handful of private US venues charging an average daily fee of $5. This budget-friendly sport easily undercuts more traditional pastimes such as golf (with 16,000 courses across the US, the average round will set you back by more than $50), and tennis, boasting 14,684 facilities nationwide, many of which come with substantial private club membership fees.
Another rapidly growing game, pickleball, holds a slight edge with 10,724 facilities available to the public. However, private pickleball clubs do exist, often requiring members to pay monthly or annual dues.
Disc golf’s appeal extends beyond its affordability. The sport is swiftly becoming a family-favorite, with growing numbers of parents and children enjoying the game together. Concurrently, there’s been an increase in both youth and adult competitions for men and women alike. Take professional player Page Pierce, for instance. Known for her skillful technique and accuracy, Pierce’s throws outmatch those of many men in the sport (Paige Pierce Is Taking Disc Golf To the Moon”, 2023 ABG-SI LLC. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED).
Heber City Parks and Recreation installed a beginner-friendly 9-hole disc golf course in Southfield Park several years ago. In Midway, a multi-use park, which includes a dog park, boasts a 9-hole disc golf course offering longer holes than Southfield. It’s a picturesque spot featuring a stream, playgrounds, and youth ball fields.
It’s also no ‘wonder’ that one of Utah’s most exceptional disc golf and hiking experiences can be found right in our backyard at the Wasatch Wunder Disc Golf Course (DGC). The Wasatch Wunder DGC provides a challenging mix of wooded fairways, bridge-crossed streams, short technical holes, and several lengthy ones that put any disc golfer’s accuracy and driving skills to the test.
The course owes its existence and ongoing upkeep to a lively team of dedicated and hardworking volunteers. Scott Belchak, Jacob Beach, and Bobby Grieve are among the lead builders and maintainers of the Wasatch Wunder DGC, with Belchak also spearheading the organization and promotion of tournaments at the course. A seasoned designer and builder of several disc golf courses in Utah, Belchak’s expertise has been instrumental in bringing the Wunder DGC to life.
In addition to upcoming tournaments, WunderMent taking place in May and WunderFall in September, the Wasatch Mountain State Park, and Wunder DGC are also gearing up to host the Utah State Disc Golf Tournament in October 2023. This small-town event promises big-time excitement, so stay tuned for more details.
Perhaps the most breathtaking course “set amidst the stunning mountain terrain of Wasatch Mountain State Park,” and taking high-altitude disc golf to a whole new level is ElevateUT Disc Golf’s new course: The WoW. Situated west of The Wasatch Wunder on Guardsman Pass with 8,400 feet of elevation, the WoW boasts spectacular mountain meadows, aspen groves, winding rivers, and dramatic vistas.
This incredible 5,600-foot long, par 56 course was the catalyst for disc golf’s journey at Wasatch Mountain State Park. The Wasatch Wunder was created to utilize the nine existing baskets previously acquired by the State Park. With the success of the Wunder, it comes as no surprise that the first tournament held at the new course had the, pardon the pun, WoW factor.
Wasatch over Wasatch (WoW) hosted their first fundraising disc golf tournament July 29-30. It was a fun, action-packed two days of excitement and camaraderie!
Players of all ages, from kids to seasoned pros, showed off their skills and love for the sport. The competition was fierce, and there were some jaw-dropping moments on the course, including two aces!
The WoW tournament wasn’t just about competition; it was about giving back too. Thanks to the non-profit’s efforts, the generosity of MVP Disc Sports, and the tremendous support from participants, a whopping $9,902 was raised for the project, and for ElevateUT Disc Golf’s mission to increase disc golf courses in the area.
If you want to explore a little further out from Heber City and Midway, Trailside Park in Silver Springs / Park City boasts a nine-hole disc golf course that is a fun, hilly experience. In Provo, my favorite is the Utah State Hospital’s 18-hole DGC with manicured lawns, hills, trees, long fairways, and a bit of history in the form of a 1930s-era stone amphitheater and “castle” above the 17th and 18th holes!
The future looks lofty for disc golf in Heber Valley—be sure to grab a disc and join the fun!