A few mailboxes, a barn and a few trees were all “holes” when, a few decades ago, I was playing disc golf on a self-designed field in the area where I grew up. I even threw a frisbee on the roof of my house, trying to get out on one hole.
Rewind for four decades. Finally I became official. Kerr Park in Downingtown has 18 glorious holes in a dedicated disc golf course.
As in regular golf, played by Tiger and Arnie, each hole has a tee area and a basket or “hole”. Dangers are everywhere. Each hole is equal to a trinity, about 300 feet long, and the chain basket seems to suck on impact.
This weekend I threw a disc with Downingtown Mayor Phil Deag and a couple of his friends. I haven’t dropped a disc in about ten years. I shot a few shots, but my game still remained respectable. (personal opinion only)
Deig told me he had initial concerns and he was very wary of admitting disc golfers to Kerr Park.
“Will the park take up golf golf?” Dag asked.
Since its inception in Downingtown four years ago, disc golf has happily prompted visits to local businesses.
“There are people playing here who have never had a reason to come to Downingtown,” Doug said. “And there are more eyes in the park.
“I would recommend this to any community.”
As an added bonus, many golfers collect trash along the way and leave the park better than when they started.
Kirk D’Angelo helped set the course. For the most part his shots were long and straight. He did bounce off a few trees, though he didn’t seem to mind.
During the pandemic, D’Angelo noted an increase in the number of families playing golf.
“It’s one of the few activities you can take part in, and social distance,” he said.
Golfer Dan Wilson enjoys competition, company and community while visiting the park. He said he is playing for stability and maintaining his mental health.
Dag noted that disc golfers use those parts of the park that are rarely visited.
“You’re so close to where everyone goes, and it’s also a place where people don’t come back,” Daig said.
It’s a beautiful neighborhood, and Brandywine Creek comes into play regularly.
On one memorable hole, golfers are forced to clear a creek or go fishing for a diva. Like some regular golfers, D’Angelo even wears a disc retriever or a retractable stick with a hook to reach for a dipped disc and not wet his feet.
There is a mass of strategy. Go around this tree to the left or right. Throw the disc hard and risk catching it. Take a big chance and get the benefits … or not.
There are no mandatory lines in Kerr Park. For the daily round, disc golfers can come up with their own rules. It’s good to get closer. Throwing three discs and choosing the best lie is also okay.
Many golfers carry backpacks designed to hold dozens of discs of varying weight and thickness. Each disc is certified by the Professional Disc Golf Association.
The thinner the drive, the further it goes, but more likely to deviate from the course and into the tree.
These smaller discs don’t sway like the big frisbees I once threw. And drivers go twice as far. Overhead discs are thicker and heavier, so they are easier to keep level.
If playing all over the field is optional, the average golfer for the first time can spend two hours on links. Experienced golfers can play a round in fifteen minutes.
After the game, Mayor Daig and I sat at a picnic table and talked about Downingtown.
We discussed a historic log cabin from the early 1700s that is located near the Lincoln Highway. Dage said most guests were amazed at how large the four-room structure seemed from the inside. He also told me that he was moved about 20 yards to higher ground due to regular flooding.
In the warm season, tours of the log house are held on the first Sunday of each month from 13.00 to 16.00.
We talked about Ida, the storm that devastated the city along Brandywine Creek. Deig spoke of the persistence of the business community, most of which is battling floods and pandemics.
I learned about the newly established flood committee that will try to identify any actions that can be taken to alleviate the next flood. The mayor hopes to work with neighboring communities.
“Intense floods are very demoralizing,” said Deig. “Some feel very helpless.”
Dag told me that the town was designed to be built on the banks of the Brandywine to provide food for its many paper mills.
“We are in a very developed region, we are at the bottom of the bowl,” he said.
The conversation then turned to Downingtown’s huge role as host of many events.
“I’m proud of Downingtown,” said Deig. “It’s great to have a company and show it off.”
The Remembrance Day parade will be held for the first time since 2019 with events at the Veterans Memorial in Kerr Park.
I enjoyed visiting Downingtown for Neighborhood Day, which took place on July 4, but decided not to take part in the 5-10 and 15-K races.
Dag told me he runs in 5K because he’s very busy. The mayor also reported some bad news about the annual Independence Day – there will be no fireworks this year, as several licensed companies have ceased operations and the rest have already been booked.
The annual duck race will continue at the expense of funds earmarked for logging.
Amusement rides, bingo, rich food and fireworks will be presented at the St. Joseph Community Festival on June 24-25.
June 25 in the Summer Jam series will be live music and beer at Kerr Park.
Kerr Park will host the Health Day on June 12, where ways to cope with everyday life will be explored.
The Fall Fest will take place on the last Sunday of September.
The county has several disc golf courses, including Thornbury Park, French Creek, Ansan B. Nixon Park in Kenneth Square and Reservoir Park in Phoenixville.
The discs can be purchased through Frolic of Exton and Home Again Disc Golf, but there’s no reason why you can’t just play with a regular Frisbee.
Chester County Disc Golf, a nonprofit, hopes to host the tournament in Downingtown soon.
Yes, I was fascinated by this fast-growing sport. It’s nice to play safely outdoors. Also, the course in Downingtown has the right number of challenges and is superb.
See you there.
Bill Rhett is a Chester County weekly columnist. Duck when he shouts “FORWARD!” The best way to contact him is firstname.lastname@example.org.