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Disc golf novices can hone skills at new Azalea rec center course

ST. PETERSBURG

Bill and Josh Hornbeck like to do a little father-son bonding. Scrabble? Too slow. Skydiving? Too risky. Scrapbooking? Too … uh, no. But zipping discs around a golf-style course and having a few laughs in the laid-back process? Perfect.

On a Saturday afternoon at the Azalea Recreation Center, Bill and Josh of St. Petersburg leisurely stroll from hole to hole, slinging discs around a free nine-hole disc golf course geared toward beginners.

"The course is close, fun, you can get in two rounds in a short amount of time," said Bill, 57. "I used to play regular golf, but it's more frustrating and you have to play all the time to stay good."

Josh, a 21-year-old business management major at the University of South Florida, whips a disc into the air. "Grippin' it 'n' rippin' it," he says.

Disc golf isn't exactly a household term, but city officials are confident about the new course's burgeoning appeal.

"We were looking to put something in the park that would allow people to get out and stay active for free," said Cory Kapes, the recreation manager at Azalea.

• • •

Disc golf is follows the principles of regular golf: a player stands on a concrete pad about 200 feet away from the hole and throws or drives a disc up the fairway until a final toss or putt lands in the hole, a metal basket. The object of the game is to complete the course with as few throws as possible.

The half-mile-long course, designed by World Champion Disc Golf Design, replaced a chunk of land that wasn't being used. The course officially opened the last week of January and the city spent about $9,500, including labor and equipment cost.

"It's a nice use of space that leaves a minimal footprint on the land," Bill Hornbeck said.

The Tocobaga Disc Golf Course in Maximo Park in St. Petersburg is the only other disc golf course in the city, but it's also a lot more difficult, geared for experienced players.

"This is really the only novice course in St. Petersburg," Kapes said. "Others have longer holes, narrower fairways."

A rollicking Saturday foursome — Mike Liebentritt, Rich Liebentritt, Chuck Caniglia and Gene Skluzacek — picked up disc golf because they're already golfers, and, well, because it's funny.

The 60-something snowbirds from Nebraska chuckled and busted chops as they watched each other miss terribly.

"We're always looking for something new," Skluzacek said.

Sabrina Rocco can be reached at srocco@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8862.

>> If you go

Azalea Recreation Center

1600 72nd St. N, St. Petersburg

The course is open daily. Discs may be checked out at the center during office hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

For disc golf's official rules, visit pdga.com.

Disc golf novices can hone skills at new Azalea rec center course 04/05/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 5:54pm]
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