DECATUR — It was a perfect day for a game of disc golf on Jan. 31, so coach Dayton Shaw pulled out three new portable disc golf goals and set them up around the football/soccer field at Bulldog Stadium in Decatur.
Shaw, who is the boys’ head basketball coach and physical education teacher, had been teaching his fifth, sixth and middle school classes the art of throwing and catching a frisbee since the start of the school year.
Shaw, an avid disc golf player, wanted to get his students away from tablets, cell phones and other distractions and get them to be more physically active as part of the school‘s fitness program.
Students first learned to throw on the original 12.25-inch Wham-O Frisbee disc which weighed between 8 and 10 ounces. Once the students mastered the larger disc, it moved on to the smaller and lighter ultimate disc which measures 10 inches and weighs 6.2 ounces. Shaw students soon began throwing these discs whenever they had the chance, either in the gymnasiums in bad weather or outdoors in good weather.
In the late 1870s, in the town of Warren, Connecticut, a baker named William Frisbie (original spelling) sold homemade pies in and around Connecticut. Frisbie packaged her treats in a lightweight pewter baking dish with her company name, “Frisbie Pie Company” stamped on the bottom. Soon his pies became popular treats with students at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. One problem with the boxes was knowing what to do with them once the pies were gone.
In the 1940s, some of Yale’s students found an ingenious use for leftover pie pans. They turned the pans upside down and started tossing and catching them while shouting “Frisbie” as the pans flew through the air – hence the birth of the popular flying disc.
Today there is a growing movement across the country involving the discs and a lens covered with a metal chain.
There are three basic discs used in the sport. There is a conductive disc used for long range shots, a mid range disc used for medium and short range shots and a putter disc used for goal shots.
There are two types of disc golf courses, a nine hole and an 18 hole. Decatur Veterans Park features a nine-hole course that boasts one of the longest holes in the country, and Old Town Gravette Park is one of the most challenging in the area. Gentry also has a record course.
In mid-January, the Decatur School District purchased a nine-hole Frisbee golf course complete with bases, several complete disc sets, and bags. Current plans are to design and build a nine-hole course around the middle and high school and behind Bulldog Stadium. A completion date has not been set.