By Chris Whitfield
When the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department opened a disc golf course at Heritage Point Park in 2009, the hope was that one day it would serve as a host for events as the sport grew. Now, that will finally happened.
Sun King Disc Sports will present the Tour Del Sol’s Battle in the Blue Ridge disc golf tournament beginning at 10 this morning at Heritage Point. Five locals with Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) ratings will take part in the event, which consists of two rounds of 18 holes on the par-54 course.
Disc golf follows many of the basic principles of ball golf: you throw off a tee pad and the goal is to get to the hole, in this case a basket made of corrugated steel and chains, in as few throws as possible.
Among the locals taking part in the event are Chatsworth’s Brock Woodall (PDGA professional rating of Masters — over 40), Rocky Face’s Dustin Edwards (Amateur Recreational) and Dalton’s Brent Evans (Amateur Intermediate), Chris Hamby (Amateur Intermediate) and Austin Taylor (Amateur Recreational). As of Friday evening, 45 players from around the Southeast had registered for the event.
The Battle in the Blue Ridge is part of a three-day swing through the area by the Tour Del Sol, according to tournament director Mike Barnett. The tour held an event at Oregon Park in Cobb County on Friday and will play in East Ridge, Tenn. on Sunday in the Challenge at Camp Jordan.
“Dalton and Oregon Park are both first-time events for us,” said Barnett, who said the tour has been in existence for the last 11 years. “We were in Thomasville and Chattanooga last year, so we mixed it up a little bit this year. We’ve got a pretty good relationship with a lot of the area players and people who make things happen.”
Adding new events at courses the tour has never played before is indicative of the growth of disc golf in the Southeast.
“What the numbers are showing is that we are finally hitting the hyper-growth phase, especially in the Southeast which has lagged in the nation with the number of courses,” said Barnett, who is based with Sun King Disc Sports in Sarasota, Fla. “For us in Florida, it is really cooking. The Orlando area got three new courses. We have pokers in the fires for new courses and new events. We are finally seeing that watershed time frame where it seems like what happened in the Midwest 10 or 15 years ago is finally hitting here.”
Barnett pointed to the relatively inexpensive investment into the sport which has caused community courses such as the one at Heritage Point to develop and thrive. The course at Heritage Point cost around $10,000.
“It is growing, and the inexpensive costs to install a course and the inexpensive cost to play the sport are what are really driving that growth,” he said. “People are familiar with golf, and there are similarities, and it brings the same game with a much more accessible and affordable approach. It is one of those things where you can put a super quality course in the ground for under $20,000 and you can’t even put a playground in for that price anymore.”
DPRD director Steve Card is excited to host an event at the course, which is always free and open to the public.
“This was sort of the idea when the disc golf course was placed in Heritage Point that not only is it good for the community, but now we can pull other people from other communities to Dalton,” Card said. “That is the goal for all of our facilities to host events and also add an economic impact for our community.”