Growing Disc Golf in South Africa

By Bart Meulenbeld

I was first introduced to Disc Golf when visiting my stepson who lives in the state of Tennessee in the US. It was practically the last day of our holiday (typical!) when playing ‘disc golf’ (or DG as we call it) was mentioned. Having played nearly every kind of sport as a kid and having spent quite a lot of timing chucking frisbees around with friends, I was intrigued and pretty confident. I soon realized that this confidence was completely misplaced, as the technique involved in properly throwing a disc golf disc is not the same as a frisbee – basically I sucked, the disc either ‘hyzered out’ left very soon after leaving my hand, or it would develop other completely independent, unintended trajectories. One of our family’s favourite amusements is the relating of the story of when I was super determined to throw a disc a country mile – only to completely ‘griplock’ it and toss it 180 degrees backwards instead, at the DG driving range. Not my finest moment. But there was something magical about the game, being out in nature, in forests and fields, throwing brightly coloured discs around, and I was hooked.

Back in SA, I learnt that there had been a very successful disc golf scene in Joburg at Delta Park, but that the majority of the baskets had unfortunately been stolen for scrap metal and that many of the original DG guys had since moved away, gotten married or taken up other pursuits. Fortunately, there was a load of baskets gathering dust in the backyard of one of the original DG crew, Lionel, which the remaining DG fanatics were able to take over. My wife (bless her) then had the brainwave of approaching Inanda Country Base, an equestrian centre in Kyalami, to ask them if we could establish a disc golf course there. They loved the idea, and so the Inanda DG course was born, and DG is now on the map in SA.

We still have a long way to go to where we want to be. The vision is to have 10 or more basketed courses throughout SA within 3 years. But finding suitable places to set up courses is challenging, particularly as the sport is still so unknown here, and particularly in the big population centres, green spaces are much in demand for other activities. But we’ll persist – with its low environmental impact and suitability for all ages and genders, I truly believe DG is about to explode here.

I write this blogpost (my first ever!) for SAFDA, which is mainly targeted at Ultimate, which I know is great fun too. But if you love the thrill of throwing discs and shaping disc flight, and perhaps enjoy an individual challenge too, come and give DG a try. Similar to Ultimate, we in the DG world are like a big family, supportive and always trying to help each other improve, an ethos I cherish, and one the world could use more of.

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