Charlotte is a hub for a lot of things — banks, major airlines, craft beer. And disc golf.
The disc golf community is passionate, to say the least. Many actually travel to different cities and countries to play on popular courses — and several of the most popular courses are here in the Charlotte area.
- The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship is held regularly at Hornets Nest Park’s course, and it’s been broadcast on ESPN2.
- The annual United States Disc Golf Championship, aka the Masters of disc golf, takes place just 30 minutes south of Charlotte in Winthrop.
- And the largest manufacturer of discs in the world, Innova, is just across state lines in Rock Hill.
Why it matters: Disc golf is a sport that virtually anybody can play. “The barrier to entry is very low,” explains David Weaver, member of the Charlotte Disc Golf Club and disc golf enthusiast.
- On any given day, you can spot people of all ages, skills, and walks of life on local disc golf courses. There’s even a group that calls themselves the “Charlotte OG’s,” who are all over 55 and many are over the age of 70.
- It’s also a relatively cheap sport to pick up, with equipment priced at $8-$12 on the low end.
Driving the news: A new course opened at Eastway Regional Recreational Center in November, as part of the rec center’s $40 million renovation project.
- “In its first month, 4,000 people visited the park to play disc golf,” says Weaver.
- The Eastway Park Disc Golf Course is one of the more than 80 courses in and around Charlotte.
“It’s a huge hobby for people, supported by free public infrastructure in these public parks,” says Joseph Phillips, co-owner of Another Round Disc Golf and Tap Room.
Flashback: Thanks to early adopters of the sport who saw its potential, Charlotte has been on the disc golf map since the early 1980s.
- Alan Beaver, a former employee of the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, and disc golf hall-of-famer, is credited with being a pioneer to the sport in the Queen City. “He sold the Park and Rec department on the idea when not many cities had courses,” said Weaver.
- Stan McDaniel is a North Carolina native and disc golf hall-of-famer who designed and built many of Charlotte’s courses, including the Hornets Nest, which is where The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship will be held this year.
It’s more than just a game for some people. This year, for the fourth year in a row, Charlotte will host one of the biggest disc golf tournaments in the world: The Disc Golf Pro Tour Championship (DGPT), which attracts around 2,000 people to the city each year.
- Last year, the winners of the men’s and women’s divisions each won $30,000. The best player on the tour made more than $100,000.
“Out of all the places I’ve played at, Charlotte is my favorite,” says Weaver, who has played in courses in 48 states, and Canada.
The big picture: Disc golf is going through a boom right now, but according to Phillips, “we’re actually in the infancy of its real growth.”
Phillips and his college roommate—now business partner— Kyle Deck bought Another Round from its previous owners back in 2019. The business wasn’t doing so great but they took a calculated risk.
- Less than a year later, the pandemic struck. And much to their surprise, it created an even bigger interest in the sport.
- “Everybody was looking for something to do and it’s outside,” says Phillips.
- Year after year, they’ve doubled their revenue and recently they opened a franchise in Denver, CO.
- In between the Championship and DGPT, Another Round Disc Golf hosts the Carolina Clash, an A-tier competition with equal payout for the male and female pros.
How it works: Like regular golf, you win disc golf by having the lowest number of total shots. Except, unlike golf, you’re throwing a disc instead of swinging a club. And you’re trying to land it in a basket, instead of a hole in the ground.
- You start each hole at a tee pad, wing it, and try to get your disc inside a chain or basket.
- You need three different kinds of disks —drivers, putters, and mid-range. You wouldn’t play golf with just one club, right?
- There are out-of-bounds (OB) rules, water hazards, but — unlike regular golf— no sand traps.
- To get involved in the Charlotte Disc Golf Club, check out their Facebook page.
Of note: A disc resembles a frisbee but to be clear, a disc and frisbee are not the same. “It would be like playing lacrosse with a tennis ball,” Axios’ Ashley Mahoney explains.
- There’s also an app called Udisc, which maps out over 10,000 courses.