A new, free kind of golf

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What would golf be like without putters and drivers? Without spiked cleats, 300-yard drives, green fees, and the agonizing decision over whether a nine-iron will be enough to overcome that breeze coming in off the water?

At Bennetts Creek Park, Suffolkians can find out. On Saturday morning, a disc golf course was unveiled on the land off Shoulder’s Hill Road. Now, locals can get a chance to toss Frisbees at chained baskets from hundreds of yards away. Equipped with both men’s and ladies’ tees, the par-60 course takes roughly two hours to play, half the time it takes to play 18 holes on a &uot;normal&uot; golf course.

&uot;Anybody of any age can play,&uot; said park ranger sergeant J.R. Ruggiero. &uot;With the elevation and water hazards, this could be one of the top courses in the area. We hope to feature monthly tournaments. It’s free to play; people just have to bring their own (Frisbees).&uot;

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After a few months of designing the course in his mind and on paper, John Richart of Carolina and North Independent Disc Golf finally got the grounds going a few months ago. Richart’s company did the labor for free, with the equipment costing the department roughly $10,000.

&uot;There’s a big allure to recreational players,&uot; Richat said. &uot;There’s a low cost and limited equipment. It’s as hard or as easy as you want. It can be just a frustrating as regular golf, and it’s just as invigorating.&uot;

Chesapeake resident Brian Skinner found out just how much; he finished in the top 10 in a battle of the world’s best at a 2003 meet in Flagstaff, Ariz.

&uot;It’s just exciting, the fun and the competition,&uot; he said, preparing to launch a disc in his first round at the new course. &uot;Having fun is what it’s all about; that’s the most important thing.&uot;

That’s something of which Parks and Recreation director Lakita Frazier and her two children plan to experience a great deal more soon.

&uot;I think this is an awesome opportunity for citizens in Suffolk and the individuals in the region to come out and enjoy,&uot; Frazier said, watching her kids aim their flying circles at a nearby basket. &uot;We’re always looking for amenities to this beautiful facility.&uot;