Disc-overing a healthier life

Organizers of disc golf workshop Thursday encourage recreation, exercise

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Players tee off with a distance driver, approach the green with a mid-range driver, and finish the hole with a putter. It sounds like golf, but this version is played with discs, and disc golfers are as dedicated to their sport as other athletes are to their sports.

The Colorado State University extension office was the driving force behind the course that has been in Craig for a year, and Director Elisa Shackelton said it's seeing some good use.

"I was working on the kiosk the other day, and a carload of disc golfers from Steamboat Springs came down to play the course at Loudy-Simpson Park," Shackelton said. "They said they enjoyed this course because it's the only one with baskets."

A workshop to teach the fundamentals of disc golf, sponsored by the extension office and Colorado Northwestern Community College, is scheduled for from 5:15 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Loudy-Simpson Park.

The cost, $15, includes a disc for each member of the workshop, as well as prizes for winners of competitions at the class.

"The course is recently mowed, so there is less chance of losing a disc," Shackelton said. "Players will receive a mid-range disc, and learn how to throw, keep score and how to play by yourself or play doubles."

She said the future of the course includes more educational signage and perhaps even smoothing out of some imperfections in the fairways.

The nine-hole disc golf course was made possible because of a Healthy People 2010 initiative that is geared toward obesity prevention.

The 2010 portion of the title is the end date of a 10-year plan that will be reviewed to evaluate its success in keeping the American population fit. Colorado has consistently ranked as the least obese state in the country, Shackelton said.

She hopes some good players will attend the workshop and give tips to the beginners, and show some of the special throws that have developed over the years.

The distance driver disc is capable of sailing for 450 yards when thrown by a good disc golfer, Shackelton said. They also have techniques for dealing with head winds and incorporating left and right curves into your throws.

Shackelton is hoping a 4-H disc golf club planned for the fall and winter might develop some good players by the time the courses open in the summer.

"It's a good alternative sport for kids not in traditional high school sports," she said. "Even if you have never been a member of 4-H, you can sign up now and become one."

A popular aspect, besides the physical activity, is the minimal cost of getting started in disc-golf. It's possible to play with just one disc, although some advanced players carry 15 discs, including "floaters" for clearing water hazards.

It builds up your upper-arm strength, your eye-hand coordination and body movements," Shackelton said. "Just like in golf, you throw for distance to get into putting range."

Also like golf, there are different pars for each hole. The Loudy-Simpson course is a relatively easy one, and great to learn on, she said.

The course even has score sheets and rulebooks at the starting area.

Shackelton hopes to get a disc golf club started in town where people could meet on the same day each week and play after work.

She sees the disc golf program promoting better health in the community and getting different groups to do activities together.

For more information on disc golf, call Elisa Shackelton at 824-9180. Registration is required for Thursday's workshop. To register, call the college at 824-1101.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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