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Disc golf takes flight

By JOHN HABIB
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 12. 2017 11:32PM
Kramer Blackberg, from Manchester, throws his disk on the first tee as he plays a round of Frisbee golf with his father Mark, from Concord at the Hollows in Manchester on Friday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

The Hollows Disc Golf Course in Manchester is about to host three world champions. It will also get larger and more prominent.

Manchester Chief of Parks Don Pinard said a second and more difficult 18-hole course is currently being designed by world champion Eric McCabe behind the current course.

"The Hollows opened two years ago and in a short time, the sport has exploded in terms of the course's usage and participation numbers," said Pinard. "The new course will be more challenging with multiple par four and five holes. It will attract the top tier, world class players to our city and, when that happens, we'll be known to have one of the best disc golf courses in the world."

Pinard, who said he hopes to host the World Amateur Championships by 2020, said the New England Amateur Championships was filled to capacity last May.

"We filled it in a week, maxed out at 190 and it didn't surprise me. This year alone between 20,000 and 25,000 rounds were played at The Hollows."

Pinard said McCabe, who won the 2010 PDGA World Championship, designed the 6,300-foot Hollows course, located behind the Brown and Mitchell Softball Field.

Don Pinard, Manchester’s chief of parks, stands by the second basket at the Hollows Disc Golf Course in Manchester on Friday. The successful course is expanding. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

"Originally, I thought he was going to design a nine-hole course, but when he realized there was a lot of land to work with, he went for 18," said Pinard. "Eric was able to construct one par-four and par-five hole on the current course." 

McCabe was able to include three different tee levels for each hole, one for the pros which is difficult and the other two for amateurs and juniors."

Pinard, who said he got hooked on disc golf when he first played at Pelham's Muldoon Park, said "anyone, young and old, can play it. It's very inexpensive, all you need to buy are discs and the course supplies the (golf disc) baskets. Trust me, you don't have to be a professional to play."

Longtime city baseball coach and recreational softball player George Abood said he plays at The Hollows two or three times a week. 

"When I first tried it two years ago and saw how easy it was, I was all in," said Abood. "I'm a recreational player who competes with three friends and I only use three discs: a driver, putter and mid-range."

James Milillo of Manchester, a weekly Frisbee golfer, makes a putt at the Hollows in Manchester on Friday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Abood said each disc that he purchased at Indian Head Athletics in Manchester is "10 bucks, very inexpensive. I found out quickly that its tough to get on the course after 5 o'clock each day and on the weekends. I go with my friends to play on weekdays in the morning and we play free of charge for 90 minutes."

Abood, who coaches the junior varsity baseball team at Manchester Memorial, said he's seen some of his players on the disc golf course playing. 

"It's for everyone, all ages and I encourage people to try it once. If they do, chances are they will get hooked like I did which is a good thing. The walking alone on the course is exercise."

Pinard said the Queen City Disc Golf Club was formed two years ago, already has 125 members, and is still growing. 

"I can tell you McCabe was blown away by that number, telling me it was massive. That's coming from a world champion."

McCabe, Ricky Wysocki (two-time PDGA World Champion) and four-time women's world champion Paige Pierce will give a clinic at The Hollows on Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. 

Dynamic Discs owner Jeremy Rusco is also expected to visit the Manchester course that day. Following the clinic, the players will compete in a skins game giving 18 lucky golfers, through a raffle, to play with one of the pros for one hole.

"We encourage people to come out and meet the pros and learn about the game," said Pinard. "It's going to be a special day hosting three world champions."

jhabib@unionleader.com


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