Cedar Glades disc golf grows in popularity, provides low cost fun

Cedar Glades Park Director AJ Johnson stands by a disc golf basket Wednesday on the Cedar Glades disc golf course. - Photo by Krishnan Collins of The Sentinel-Record
Cedar Glades Park Director AJ Johnson stands by a disc golf basket Wednesday on the Cedar Glades disc golf course. - Photo by Krishnan Collins of The Sentinel-Record

Easy to pick up sports like pickleball have shown they can thrive in Garland County, and now another low cost, easy to start sport is gaining popularity in the area.

If potential players want to play disc golf, all they need is at least one disc and a course to play on. Luckily, most disc golf courses are free, and Cedar Glades Park boasts an 18-hole course just a few minutes from downtown.

"The popularity, it's huge and growing," Cedar Glades Park Coordinator AJ Johnson said. "It's grown over the years. I've been here probably 13 years and I've watched it grow and expand from just locals to a ton of out of staters."

Johnson said players come from all over, and he sees a lot of people visiting to play from Texas and northern states.

"During the winter months when it's so cold up there and there's so much snow on the ground, they'll travel down," Johnson said. "Several folks from Wisconsin, Minnesota, that area come down and play all the time. It is a growing sport."

One reason for disc golf's growth is its relative ease to start. Even a set of three discs -- including a driver, midrange and putter -- costs around $20. Although having three different discs is handy, a player can even play an entire match with just one disc.

The next step is simply finding a course and then going to play. Phone apps like UDisc allow players to track scores during the game for free and to find nearby courses.

Just like pickleball, some players are more skilled than others, but it doesn't take long for players to adjust their throws and start making competitive shots.

The objective is like golf. Players throw their discs down the course and try to eventually throw their disc into the basket -- like the cup in golf -- and score as low as possible.

"Really COVID it started to expand again," Johnson said. "It was cheap to get into. It was outside, and it allowed families to come do it together. So those were really the three things I think kicked it off again."

Famous disc golf course designer John Houck designed the Cedar Glades Park course, and Johnson said that in itself brings people to play.

"That actually still brings some people in," he said. "They're going to play all his designer courses. It started with the locals. I guess as his name spread and his courses got good reviews, then this was on the list and therefore it expanded."

Disc golf courses vary very heavily from course to course. Some courses remain wide open with lots of room, and others include more trees and tighter windows to squeeze discs into on every hole.

Johnson said one of the things that makes the Cedar Glades course a good course is the challenge it provides.

"It's all the trees," he said. "It's not a wide open course. It's very hilly. It's not an easy one to get around on. It's very up and down. You have to be able to control your disc. I think that's what most people love about it, especially the experienced ones. It's a challenge."

The Wildcat Disc Golf Club plays at Cedar Glades Park, and the club hosts a league every Sunday morning.

Cedar Glades only has one 18-hole course, but the park recently installed some alternative baskets around the course to give players more options.

"It makes it more challenging or less challenging," Johnson said. "A lot of them are closer but they're a little more tucked away in a more difficult area to hit."

Johnson said while he knows there are more courses around the area, those courses haven't affected foot traffic at the Cedar Glades course, and traffic has actually probably picked up at the park.

Disc golf continues to grow, and it doesn't seem like Cedar Glades Park will see less players anytime soon.

"It's an easy sport to get into cost wise," Johnson said. "It's something that's easy to get into. It doesn't take all day to play it, and it gets you outside."

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