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Homemade disc golf course attracts a crowd in Brooksville

BROOKSVILLE

The course zigzags through a neighborhood.

Much like a regular golf course, it's surrounded by trees, homes, even driveways. Brooksville resident Tom Bussell designed this nine-hole disc golf course and the neighborhood kids play it.

A lot and for free.

"Kids were apprehensive about the whole thing from the start," Bussell said. "I just started playing and once they saw me, they came in droves to my front door wanting to play. The doorbell rings all day long here. 'Hey, can I play? Hey, I want to play.' All day long, kids come out and just throw it back and forth. They've been playing all summer long."

The course starts at Bussell's home on Candlelight Boulevard in Brooksville, just a stone's throw away from the Quarry Golf Course, which also has a disc golf course. Bussell's course crisscrosses the road, and instead of the traditional bucket-shaped holes with metal chains, there are tiny white flags for pins. He even offers a hand-drawn map for newcomers, though most can tweak and tune the course to play differently each time.

Bussell used to be an avid golfer, but had to retire from the regular links after breaking his shoulder on a hiking trip in Yellowstone National Park, so he started playing disc golf at the Quarry. After checking out all the equipment at Sun King Disc Sports, he couldn't get enough.

"I grew up with a golf club in my hand — I love the game, but I just can't swing through," Bussell said. "I spent hours at (Sun King) and just got into what they had and now I love this game."

Kids about 7 to 12 years old, including Bussell's son, Hunter, can be seen running up and down the street, chasing multicolored discs. They heave and hurl and hope to top the other's score.

"Basically that's one of the key features to disc golf: Anyone can play," said Michael Barnett, owner of Sun King, who also leads disc golf leagues and play at the Quarry. "There is always a massive array of age brackets, and from the recreational side, you can go out and all you have to do is be able to (throw) a Frisbee. Once in a while, a player gets some hope by making one in the hole.

"Not to mention, it's super economical," Barnett added. "It's very cheap for anyone to play — that is, compared to regular golf."

One of the main reasons Bussell created a makeshift course in his front yard was economics. He figured kids can't always pay a greens fee.

"(Disc golf) is pretty good because you can play all the time," Hunter said, a disc cradled in his hands. "It is a lot of fun to just go out and throw it because, win or lose, it is always a lot of fun throwing and chasing down your disc."

"Parents aren't always willing or able to pay the money for the kids to play (at the Quarry) every day," Bussell added. "They can even make up their own rules to make the game more challenging."

Barnett sees people get hooked on disc golf quickly, just as Bussell did. And he thought Bussell's initiative was ingenious, especially for a sport not that well-known.

"Anyone from 8 to 80 can play," Bussell said. "That's why they love it. Are some better than others? Sure, but everyone can throw it some way or another and they eventually get better."

Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-1771.

Fast facts

History of disc golf

The origins of disc golf are similar to the process Tom Bussell went through to set up his course. He just thought it might be fun.

In 1965, Californian George Sappenfield was a recreation counselor during summer break from college. While playing golf one day he realized it might be fun for his kids to play golf with Frisbees.

He set up an object course and those early ones used lamp poles and fire hydrants as targets. Three years later, Sappenfield became the Parks and Recreation Supervisor for Thousand Oaks, Calif., where he introduced the game to adults by planning a disc golf tournament as part of a recreation project. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that courses began to pop up in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

For more information on local disc golf, call Michael Barnett at Sun King Disc Sports at (352) 397-3257.

Homemade disc golf course attracts a crowd in Brooksville 08/18/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:00pm]

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