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Disc golfin' the Northwest PDF Print E-mail
by Julie Franz   
Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Steve Hutton throws a putt on the 26th hole at Mossy Roc in Sudden Valley for a birdie, one under par. — photo by Julie Franz
Disc golf has been steadily gaining a following since the ’70s, when it was first considered an official sport.  While it may seem much more casual than traditional golf, serious players are anything but casual when it comes to throwing the disc.  


Western senior Dario Ré was a professional disc golfer when he came to Western as a freshman in 2006. He started playing professionally in high school and had four sponsors. Ré said he traveled a lot, skipped school and played tournaments every weekend.  

“When I was playing professionally, [disc golf] was all I thought about, all I was doing,” he said.  

Ré started the Western Disc Golf Club his freshman year. He decided to retire from the pro ranks after his first year in college because he said it was hard to concentrate on his education, experience college life and play professionally at the same time. While he has no plans to go pro again, he said, disc golf will always be a part of his life.  

The object of disc golf is to throw the disc into a basket, or hole, in the fewest throws, or strokes.  Just as in traditional golf, the winner of the round is the person with the lowest score after completing the course.  Scoring terminology, such as eagle, birdie and par, is also the same as in traditional golf.  

The main differences between the two sports are equipment and cost.  

Traditional golf courses charge a green fee of $15 to $100 to play, and golf clubs are expensive. Alternatively, the majority of disc golf courses are free and golf discs are inexpensive at $8 to $20 each.  A beginner disc golfer can get away with using three discs to start: a driver, a mid-range and a putter.

Steve Hutton, 35, started disc golfing in 1998. Hutton said he enjoys playing traditional golf, too, but it’s too expensive to play on a regular basis.

“I’m addicted to disc golf, and I love it because once you get your plastic [discs], it’s essentially free,” Hutton said.

Disc golf courses are usually at state or city parks, like the courses at Cornwall Park in Bellingham and VanderYacht Park in Ferndale.  They also can be established on unutilized land such as Mossy Roc in Sudden Valley.  

Pat Sullivan, 37, has been disc golfing since 1996 and started playing professionally in 2001.

Whatcom Disc Golf Club formed in 2005 with the main goal of establishing more courses in the area, he said.  At the time, the only course in the area was Cornwall Park.

“I wanted a place to play where you can stand on a tee-pad for 10 minutes and not have two or three groups come up behind you,” he said.  

Whatcom Disc Golf Club started the Mossy Roc course in Sudden Valley about five years ago. It’s been designed, built and maintained entirely by a core group of passionate golfers. Sudden Valley Resort allows them to use the land, which is an abandoned RV campground, but does not give them any funding to run it. Sullivan said the course is in dire need of money for maintenance.  

Sullivan said that before the Whatcom Disc Golf Club started building the course, the campground was over-grown and full of underage drinking, vandalism, illegal fires and illegal dumping. Sullivan and Hutton are part of a group of golfers who take pride and ownership of Mossy Roc, attempting to maintain it with what little resources they can muster up themselves.  

Keith Lionetti, owner of Chainbangerz, a disc-golf shop in Burien, has been playing for nearly 20 years.  He said he was hooked after playing his first round when he was 18 years old in the foothills of California.  There wasn’t much for an 18-year-old to do in town, Lionetti said, and a lot of the kids his age were getting into drugs and alcohol.  He said disc golf ended up being the perfect outlet for him.

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