SHERIDAN — Like golfers everywhere, Jerry Burgess has been anxiously awaiting warm spring weather so that he can get out and play a round. Of disc golf, that is.
Disc golf is an outdoor sport that is based on the rules and format of traditional golf, but substitutes Frisbee-like discs for balls and metal baskets for holes.
Burgess is part of a small group of Sheridan residents who play disc golf on the four local disc golf courses in the area. Disc golfers begin the course at a designated tee-box and throw or “drive” toward a metal basket located anywhere from 250 to 400 feet or more away. The player then makes his or her next throw from where the “disc lay” or where the disc landed, until he or she is within “putting” distance to the basket.
“Some of those guys, I would venture to say, they would throw over 200 yards, like two football fields,” Burgess said. “I’ve seen them throw a little further than that, but I am not quite there yet. It is just practice and the trick of the throwing. If the wind catches it just right, you’ve got a nice throw and a long distance.”
Like a traditional golf course, a disc golf course can include tree and water hazards, terrain changes and varying distances to the basket, which add to the difficulty of a course, and determine what the par is for each hole.
There are currently public disc golf courses at Sheltered Acres Park, the Story Lion’s Park, Sheridan High School and on the grounds of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Though the courses have just nine holes, Burgess and others creatively make the course 18 holes.
“The ones that are established right now, there are just nine holes,” Burgess said. “We’ll play nine holes and then we’ll turn around and play it backwards, making it a different 18 holes and giving you different angles and different perspective.”
Burgess said playing disc golf requires just a small financial commitment, about $30 initially, to purchase discs and a bag and there are no course fees to play.
It also requires no particular skill set, except being able to throw a Frisbee.
“Anybody can play, the young, the old, male, female, whoever,” Burgess said. “You can come up to play with somebody and not know how well they throw, but have a friendly little game and get beat by a young kid!”
“It is appropriate for all ages,” he added. “I’ve got 6- or 7-year-old kids that will come to my door and ask if I will ‘come out and play’ and show them a few tricks or tips.
I am amazed at how accurate they throw. They have a pretty good arm on them!”
Burgess said there is an informal group of players locally, the Sheridan Wyo Disc Golf Club, but that he hopes to get the club more organized with more members.
He also has high hopes that Sheridan will soon be home to an 18-hole disc golf course at Sheridan College.
“When that happens and you get on the listing, you can have tournaments, so it kind of places you on the map,” he said. “There are some people who travel around and that is what they do for vacation, just play the different courses. They have nice tournaments and you can make a little bit of money.”
Cheryl Heath, vice president for administration and chief financial officer at SC, confirmed that the college is working toward a course that would likely open for play in the fall.