Rec center begins offering disc golf lessons in anticipation of new course
by Martin McConnell
According to Broadview Heights recreation director Catherine Spera, disc golf is one of the fastest growing recreational sports in America. Working in the shadow of the meteoric rise of pickleball, disc golf has become a secondary featured activity for recreation centers everywhere.
In an effort to keep up with the changing tastes of visitors, Broadview Heights began playing with the idea of offering disc golf lessons last summer. Spera explained that demand for lessons, while slow so far, has grown with the interest in the game itself.
The popularity is only expected to increase in the coming months as the city anticipates opening its first disc golf course later this month.
“I was unfamiliar with disc golf until early last summer,” she said. “John, our instructor, had reached out to us. He noticed that we had added our practice disc golf area in the back over here.”
Local disc golf aficionado John Farrell contacted the recreation center about the possibility of hosting lessons last year, Spera said. The first year’s course received well enough to keep interest going for this year’s lessons.
“We have a few people. I think a lot of people are unfamiliar with disc golf,” she said. “He came back this year and we decided to add two groups: the teenagers, and we decided to include adults also.”
A physical education teacher for Aurora City Schools, Farrell will take his teaching talents to Broadview Heights on Thursday nights this summer. He said he wants to be able to “spread the joy” of the sport of disc golf, after recently discovering itself.
“I am a physical education (teacher) in Aurora and I have been teaching disc golf to my middle school students the last ten years,” Farrell said. “I recently started playing myself and I am completely hooked.”
Farrell, a Parma native, said that he got first fix of disc golf as a student at Ashland University. Since then, he has been trying to keep his discs fresh for the better part of the last two decades. “I’m a sixth-grade P.E. teacher by trade. I’ve been teaching disc golf at Aurora for about 15 years,” he said. “Just, you know, a little three-day lesson, teaching the basics, kind of what I’m now doing with the Broadview Heights rec.”
According to Farrell, the sport of disc golf has a natural draw to it. Between the physical activity aspect of it, the competitive nature of the sport, and the ability to be outside and play even during the coronavirus pandemic, he said that the sport experienced a popularity boom in the early 2020s.
“I think COVID really blew up disc golf. I think golf and disc golf were the kind of sports that people could do outdoors, and felt comfortable,” he said. “Disc golf specifically is relatively cost-affordable for most people. You can get discs used for $10 or $12.”
All disc golf courses in the state of Ohio are free to play, Farrell added. The cost-effectiveness of disc golf has made it a premier choice for children looking to invest in an unconventional sport, he said.
“Two of the three kids that signed up last year have returned,” Farrell said. “They were excited to come back. It is challenging, too… It’s not a movement that people are used to, so when you try to teach the technique, it can be tough.”
Spera said that spots are currently open for lessons with Farrell. Those looking to pick up the discs can contact the Broadview Heights Recreation Department at 440-838-4522. ∞