Brian Miller loves to talk about disc golf. But probably not as much as he loves playing the game.
He is a touring professional living in Fort Wayne and can quickly break down the four disc golf courses the area has to offer based on anyone’s skill level.
But you don’t have to be a professional to enjoy the game, says Miller, 40. Which is probably why it has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, he says.
The Professional Disc Golf Association reported that its membership grew by 18 percent to 25,000 people last year.
And just in the last four to five years Miller has seen an increase in popularity locally, drawing players who range from 10 to 65 years old. He even sees families playing.
“It’s incredible how many more people are playing disc golf,” says Miller, who has been playing for about 17 years.
Disc golf is similar to golf except you use a Frisbee-like disc instead of a ball.
In disc golf, players tee off at concrete or rubber pads at each of nine to 18 holes, trying to land their discs in a disc pole hole (the metal basket) in as few throws as possible. Each hole has a par. Discs whip around trees and might even roll or bounce along the ground. The player with the lowest cumulative score wins.
Miller can see the draw to disc golf. It’s free because the courses are located in parks unlike regular golf where there is a cost to play, in addition to green and cart fees.
It’s also scenic and beautiful as people get to wind their way through the parks.
Parks with courses are Shoaff Park and Swinney (East and West) in Fort Wayne and Moser Park in New Haven.
The Fort Wayne Disc Club is working to install a course at Tillman Park, Miller says.
If you are just getting started, Miller suggests playing at Shoaff Park, which is beginner friendly.
You can use a Frisbee to play, but Miller says purchasing a disc used in the sport may be a better option. Unlike a Frisbee, a sport-specific disc has a beveled edge and is harder than a Frisbee.
There are also different discs, just like golf, including putters, mid-range and drivers. They can be found at most major retailers such as MC Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart and Meijer’s, and at Bikes and Boards on St. Joe Road. Miller says the store not only offers discs, but also other disc golf equipment such as bags and clothing.
Finally, Miller suggests that beginners contact members of the Fort Wayne Disc Club to get help or advice. He, along with member Jason Smith, are willing to guide new players.
Players can also check out upcoming group events, fundraisers and league play on the club’s Facebook page. The club meets every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Shoaff Park for a handicapped league, which is perfect for beginning players as more advance players will be limited in scoring.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.