Disc golf enthusiast Gary Blanton says that he has made a lot of friends competing in disc golf tournaments and practicing with teams throughout Alachua County.
The retiree and his wife hit the links in High Springs several times a week and Blanton says he wants to see more people take advantage of a new course that opened at the High Springs Sports Complex in February.
"It's great for beginners," Blanton says about the nine-hole course designed by Disc Golf Competitor Chris Clark who serves as the chairman of the Gainesville Chain Hawks Disc Club.
And now that daylight savings means 5:30 p.m. sunsets, the course is leaving the lights on for players.
In order to give more people a chance to play, Blanton worked with the City of High Springs to add lights to the course which are now turned on for Monday night play and Blanton is hoping to add a second night as soon as possible.
"I've been playing since 2000," Blanton said. When he first started he said they would get together with four or six people."We used to go after work," he said. And that's what he wants for more players to be able to do.
Every Monday starting at 5:30 p.m. the lights go on and the High Springs Disc Golf Club starts evening rounds. There are contests such as a hole-in-one and distance shot.
To see what the High Springs club is up to follow them on their Facebook page.
Disc golf continues to be one of the fastest growing games in the U.S. according to the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA). The 1,722 courses throughout the U.S. grew to 4,060 by 2004 and PDGA membership climbed from 10,000 to 35,000 between 2006 and 2016.
PDGA history traces the sport back to the "Father of Disc Golf" Ed Headrick who included disc golf as an event in Wham-O’s 1975 World Frisbee Championships.
But it was George Sappenfield, a recreation counselor working during his summer break from Fresno State University in 1965 who is credited with crafting the idea that kids on his playground could play golf using Frisbees. According to the PDGA website, "the kids liked the idea so in 1966, Sappenfield found out that his recreation class instructor, Kevin Donnelly, had also promoted Frisbee golf for children a few years earlier. Sappenfield and Donnelly became friends and shared their ideas about golfing with Frisbees."
More than 3,000 disc golf events occur every year including one coming up in Jonesville from December 4-6. The 9th Annual Chank Hawk Open will be held at Northside Park in Gainesville and at the Jonesville Disc Golf Course.
For more information on the High Springs club click here.
According to Blanton, the High Springs course is great for starting out since it is, "mostly open without a lot of trees so you can learn to throw more accurately."
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