NORTON — Disc golfers in Summit County have a new course to play a round.

Summit Metro Parks celebrated its new 18-hole disc golf course at Silver Creek Metro Park with a grand-opening ceremony Friday morning.

The course is the park district’s first and was constructed using the park's existing cross country course, which is the home course for the University of Akron's team and is only used about half a dozen times a year, said Summit Metro Parks Executive Director Lisa King.

"At Metro Parks, we're always looking for new ways to fulfill our mission of connecting people with nature, and this course is our latest example of our attempt to do that,” King said. “We knew that the existing cross country course here at Silver Creek would be a good fit and the perfect location.”

The park district, which did much of the work in house, partnered with a consultant, course architect Bill Griffith of SoL Harris/Day Architecture in Jackson Township, on the $50,000 project.

Griffith, who started playing disc golf in 1993, formed the Northeast Ohio Disc Golf Alliance in 2007 and has been inducted into the Ohio Disc Golf Hall of Fame, according to his company’s website.

Harris said disc golf’s popularity has exploded in recent years, estimating membership in the Professional Disc Golf Association doubles every five years.

There are 245 courses in Ohio, according to the PDGA, including Johnson Disc Golf Course in Norton, Hudson Springs Park Disc Golf Course in Hudson, Portage Lakes Disc Golf Course in Akron, Boettler Park in Green and other local courses in Wadsworth, Suffield Township, Kent, Medina, Aurora, Canton, Massillon, Rittman, Alliance and Ravenna.

"This will be a great opportunity for people in this area,” Griffith said. “Disc golf is really growing by leaps and bounds, while regular golf is slowly tailing off in terms of its popularity and support.”

The par-61 course, where construction started last fall, is nearly 9,000 feet long and spread out over 75 acres, with most holes in the 400- to 700-foot range. The shortest hole is No. 4 at 230 feet, while the longest is No. 16 at 1,001 feet.

Most players, once they learn the basics of the game, will be able to throw 300 to 320 feet at a time, Griffith said.

The sport is just like regular golf. Golfers start out standing on a concrete tee and throw the disc toward a basket at each hole. As they continue to move toward the hole, they must throw it from where it lands. Chains in the basket help slow the disc down, with the disc dropping down into a cage.

Just like in golf, the low score wins. Most people play in groups of four, with a round lasting two to three hours.

Griffith said it’s possible to play with traditional plastic discs, but he said because of the distance and wind, it’s better to play with specialized discs, with professionals bringing 20 to 30 discs to tournaments.

Friday’s ceremony ended with a ceremonial “ring of fire,” with the two dozen or so people who attended the ceremony throwing a disc into the practice basket at the course. It’s traditionally done to dedicate new courses.

Players at Silver Creek will need to bring their own discs. The course is available from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Silver Creek Metro Park, 4579 Medina Line Road, Norton. For more information, visit pdga.com. For a course map, visit summitmetroparks.org.

“This is gonna be a great, great course,” Griffith said. “It'll be a real competition course for people to play.”

 

Contact reporter Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, emills@thebeaconjournal.com and @EmilyMills818.