Look out, pickleball players, there’s a new casual sport looking to chart a course in Palm Springs — disc golf.
Just as more and more tennis courts in the nation are turning into pickleball courts, golf courses and parks are seeing the addition of disc golf courses. In the Coachella Valley, interest in the sport is so high and the course count so low that a group of local disc golfers — Coachella Valley Discers — hopes to put a Palm Springs course on the map.
Jon Berg, a representative of the group, made his pitch for a course in the city Monday evening, telling members of the Palm Springs Parks and Recreation Commission, “The ability of people to go out and play is being constrained, especially in the Coachella Valley. We are the golf capital of California, and we only have one disc golf course to play.” That course is located at Hovley Soccer Park in Palm Desert.
During his presentation, Berg went through each of the parks in Palm Springs, laying out their pros and cons and showing possible course layouts. Sunrise Park would work best for the sport, he said, due to the existence of some needed infrastructure and mature trees that would create an inviting course layout.
“We’re really excited about this park,” Berg said of Sunrise Park, especially with the city’s swim center, the main library, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Mizell Center all adjacent. “It really is a great facility, perfect for what we’re looking for. We took a group of our club members out there, and it just played awesome. The fairways are beautiful. Everyone loved it.”
Berg assured the Commission it wouldn’t take much to get disc golf up and running. All that’s needed are the baskets themselves, a concrete tee pad, and some tee signs. The baskets are easily set up with a hole measuring two feet deep and 18 inches wide, a pole, and the basket. The baskets would be permanent but could quickly be taken down for special events.
He also noted existing paths in Sunrise Park could be used as tee pads. In other parks, tee pads would have to be built, adding extra cost and time to the project.
“Sunrise Park is plug-and-play,” he said. “We can put the baskets in and start playing tomorrow.”
Commission members appeared to back the idea, agreeing to explore what could be done to erect a disc golf course in a city park. They especially liked hearing about the low cost.
“The Disc golf baskets are about $350 apiece, and our local clubs have already raised enough money to buy the baskets,” said Berg. To pay for the rest of the elements, he proposed that his group reach out to local businesses to sponsor tee signs. Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Jerry Alcorn said Measure J funds could also be sought if needed.
Berg also assured the Commission that although disc golf holes are hundreds of feet long, they blend in naturally. He also gave assurances that people enjoying the open space near disc golfers were at little risk.
“I think disc golf is a good idea,” said Commissioner Deiter Crawford. “I’ve seen it being played already in some local parks. My only concern was just being hit by a Frisbee in the multi-use areas of the park.”
“The golfers would be so appreciative to have the baskets at the park,” Berg answered. “They’re not going to do anything to jeopardize that. They’re very smart about where they’re throwing and making sure the coast is clear.”
It’s understandable why both pickleball and disc golf are growing in popularity. Both sports are more accessible and cheaper for people of all ages and backgrounds to play, making them more accessible than tennis or golf. Disc golfers, for example, don’t need expensive equipment or club membership. A plastic disc and a good arm are the only requirements.
Just how popular are they? Pickleball and disc golf are the country’s fastest-growing sports. Berg said disc golf saw a 67% increase in new players over the last two years. Worldwide there are about 70,000 active members of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), which lays down the rules for the distance between tee pad and basket and how to assign par for a hole.