Frisbee lover designs disc course CENTRAL COUNTY -- Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

GOLF WITH A TWIST AT KINDER PARK

June 17, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff writer

On a hot, summer afternoon in Severna Park, Chris Redmond cradles a flat plastic disc between his hands, gets into position, tenses his muscles, wets his lips and -- Whoosh. The Frisbee disc slices the air so fast you almost miss it, leaps 300 feet in a few seconds and smacks right between the green ribbons on a wooden post.

This is disc golf, and it is Mr. Redmond's special love. The 25-year-old naval engineer from Arnold designed and installed the 9-hole disc golf course at Kinder Park with his own money, spending several hundred dollars and many hours to create a place for disc golfers.

Spaced about the park, circling the pond and beyond, are low wooden posts that mark the T-off areas. Disc golfers hurl their disc, just about any type of small Frisbee, toward a "pole hole" -- typically a metal basket on a pole.

Because Mr. Redmond footed the bill himself, he installed just the poles without the baskets, which cost about $300 apiece, and marked off the height where the baskets would be.

Similar to "ball" golf, the object is to get the lowest score in a round of holes. Mr. Redmond hopes to have 18 holes completed by August, when he has scheduled a grand opening to draw public attention to the course.

"It's a versatile sport that can be played in almost any setting by anyone who can throw a Frisbee," he says.

Founded in California about 20 years ago, disc golf appeals to families and college students the most, Mr. Redmond says. There are about 500 courses throughout the United States, and in certain areas, disc golf is so popular that competition scores are carried in local newspapers. In states such as California, competitions offer $10,000 prizes, he says.

"Around here, it would be $500 or $1,000. It's working this way across the country, though," he says.

The three-week-old course at Kinder Park is Maryland's fifth disc golf course, and already people are turning out to try the game.

Explaining the lure, Mr. Redmond rummages in a gym bag and pulls out half a dozen discs, most smaller than Frisbees.

"You can use anything that looks or acts like a Frisbee, but I use competition discs, especially designed in California for this type of play," he says.

Although cheap -- averaging $7 -- the right disc is helpful, he says. If the disc is too heavy, or too light for a person's hands, it will make the game much tougher to play and less fun.

One California-based company, Innova, sells 18 different types of golf discs, from very soft plastic discs to ones with the rims shaped in varying ways to add spin or speed. "Every disc does something different," Mr. Redmond says. "It's like golf clubs."

The discs usually come engraved or stamped with slogans and logos. Mr. Redmond's favorite is a maxim of the disc golf set: "When a ball dreams, it dreams it's a Frisbee," he says, quoting Stancil E. D. Johnson, author of "Frisbee: A Practitioner's Manual and Definitive Treatise."

"I showed that to an avid golfer friend of mine, and he didn't think it was very funny," he says.

But for Mr. Redmond, who discovered disc golf while he was a college student in Florida, the quotation inspired him to build the course.

When he moved to Arnold, he had to drive half an hour to reach a course in Baltimore or Greenbelt. So he sought permission from the county Department of Recreation and Parks to build his own course and help from his friends to dig holes for the wooden posts. Right now the course has just nine holes, but Mr. Redmond designed it to include 18 holes. He just has to dig a little more.

"The main thing is to get people to know about it," he says. "We're wanting to expand and hoping for contributions to buy baskets, or for Parks support."

While the course is ready to use, Mr. Redmond cautions that having a map will keep newcomers from confusing the "amateur" course with the "professional" course, which cross over one another. Interested parties should call him at 626-8294, he says.

He hurls a bright purple disc across the pond, watching it veer at just the last moment to hit a pole almost out of sight behind a grove of trees.

"It's a very good family sport," Mr. Redmond says. "You just need something to throw."

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