LAKE PLACID — According to the Professional Disc Golf Association’s Web site, there are more than 3,000 disc golf courses in the United States. One of them is in Cadyville, just outside of Plattsburgh. Another is right here at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, which was constructed last summer near the base of the ski area.
“It was a really great addition to the summer activities at Whiteface,” said Bridget Hinman, the mountain’s marketing manager. “We had more than 500 people participate last year.”
Dave Messner, an expert disc golfer and principal of the Lake Placid Middle/High School, is leading an effort to further promote disc golf in the region with the formation of the Adirondack Area Disc Golf Club.
A meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23 in the Middle/High School cafeteria for anyone who has an interest in getting out to Whiteface to play organized games of disc golf — the art of throwing Frisbees at targets.
“Given that there are two courses in the area, it lends itself to a regional development,” Messner said. “Something to bring disc golfers together.”
One of Messner’s goals is to eventually link up with disc golf enthusiast of the Plattsburgh area to unite players in the Adirondack region.
Disc golf, or frisbee golf, consists of players using flying discs instead of clubs and balls to go from a tee box to the hole, usually a metal chain basket. Players normally have three discs — a driver for teeing off, a mid-ranger one and the putter for using close to the hole. The object of the game: Complete each hole with the fewest throws.
And yes, Dave Messner has a disc golf target set up in his basement where he practices.
“I’m on auto-pilot from right here,” said Messner, squaring up to the free standing basket, his toes on a line taped to the basement floor. He wound up and gave the disc a toss. It sailed into the chain links and fell into the bottom of the basket with a rattle.
Before hatching the idea to start a formal club, Messner was instrumental in the formation of the Whiteface course.
“Jay Rand, who was the mountain manager at the time, called me up and asked me about disc golf,” Messner said. “I offered to help anyway I could.”
Messner spent several days on the mountain planning and, along with now manager Bruce McCulley, laid out the entire course using a laser measuring device.
“Disc golf courses are usually an acrimonious debate in small communities, but this course went up quick,” Messner said. “When you have a good idea and a lot of like-minded people working together, things get done.”
The course was a minimal expense to Whiteface according to Messner who was first contacted by Rand in late May of last year. The whole thing was up and running by the Fourth of July.
Bridget Hinman said she’s excited about the idea of a disc golf club in the area.
“I never thought I would love it as much as I do, but it’s a blast,” Hinman said. “What a great way to get out and enjoy the Adirondacks. I like it because it’s different.”
Theoretically, the game can be played anywhere there is enough space. Messner plays on courses all over the country and is so passionate about the sport that he keeps his playing set in his car. He has been playing disc golf since 1994 when his children bought him some discs. Among his biggest accomplishments in the world of disc golf was serving as a caddy to a world champion in Michigan.
“I watched this guy throw back to back hole in ones,” said Messner. “It was incredible.”
The sport has been growing steadily — with courses popping up around the country each year — since its establishment in the early 70s. With the help of national organizations such as the Professional Disc Golf Association, which holds national events, has a list of officials and organizes a national tour, the sport is thriving.
As principal of the middle/high school, Messner seeks to promote healthy fun, the same message he applies to disc golf.
“The idea is to offer an organized activity that’s healthy and in harmony with nature,” Messner said.
Contact Eric Voorhis at 523-4401 or
Lake Placid Middle/High School principal David Messner, who helped design the disc golf course at Whiteface Mountain, stands next to a disc basket last week at his home.
Photo/Eric Voorhis/Lake Placid News