If you've ever wandered through a small Iowa community and stumbled upon a park perhaps you've seen them, those strange metal baskets with chain links and numbers on the top. Lucky you, you've found one of Iowa's greatest treasures, Disc Golf. And I'd like to give you five compelling reasons to give the sport a try!
1. You're Surrounded by Courses.
Iowa has more disc golf courses per capita than almost any other state. As you drive through many small towns, and any large one, you're bound to find at least one set of baskets. On our adventures thus far we've found courses in Iowa Falls, Sheldon, Adel, Pella, Rockford, Story City and Prairie City just to name a few.
2. It's Easy to Learn.
The rules are simple. Throw a disc, or Frisbee, at the basket. Count how many throws it takes you to get the disc in the basket. Scoring is just like ball golf, but you don't even have to keep score, you can just throw for fun. If you decide to throw professionally (yep, you can do that) there are more rules, but for the average family the simple "throw and count" will work just fine for you.
3. It's Family Friendly.
Because it's so easy to learn, kids pick up on it quickly and throwing a disc is second nature to children. Many "city park" courses are also easily navigated by a stroller so babies need not be left behind. I've walked many courses, Waukee is one of my favorites, while my husband throws. I just follow along pushing the stroller. Investing in a disc for each child will give them some fun ownership in the game and you can find discs at almost any store with a sporting goods section.
4. You Get Outdoor Exercise.
Walking that stroller through the backwoods of Iowa gets you some much needed exercise. This makes disc golf the perfect sport of Iowa's Healthiest State Initiative. Kids walking through the course with you can help spot birds and other nature treasures. Because you're just walking and throwing it's minimal impact and you can go at your own pace so you still find yourself having fun. And the fun doesn't have to end with summer, either, there are disc golf competitions that take place in the dead of winter. Really! Those baskets stay up year round.
5. It's Free!
Clearly I like free stuff, who doesn't? Most of the courses you'll find in Iowa are free to the public. Many are just tucked unassumingly into city parks. This is what, in my mind, makes disc golf superior to regular golf. It's accessible to everybody and won't break your budget to participate. Buying a set of discs, a putter, midrange, and driver can set you back as little as $30 or so. But for casual throwing, that free Frisbee you got at the state fair will work too. Something my whole family can enjoy for free... sign me up!
There are a lot of great websites out there to help you learn even more about the sport or to help you find courses in your area. My favorite, Disc Golf Course Review, has an interactive map for easy location of courses along your route.
My suggestion? Throw a couple discs in your car and keep your eyes open on your next Iowa adventure. The odds are in your favor that on your way you'll spot one of those strange metal baskets, and now you'll know what to do with it!