New disc golf course looks like a hole in one
By Justin Wier
When Austintown resident Ray Penny approached Todd Shaffer, township park supervisor, with the idea of putting a disc golf course in Austintown Township Park, it was the first Shaffer had heard of the sport.
In disc golf, players throw discs at chain-link goals on a course laid out similar to a regular golf course.
After some research, Shaffer realized it would attract a demographic, young adults in their 20s, that wasn’t using the park as frequently as others.
“It was exactly what I was looking for,” Shaffer said. “I have nothing for this age group out here, and I was trying to figure out what to put in for them.”
It’s an age group that isn’t served by the splash pad and playground for children or the tennis and pickleball courts, which attract an older crowd.
Now the course, which is still being fine-tuned, is drawing in young adults from throughout the Valley.
Shaffer said about half the people he’s talked to on the course are from Austintown. The other half came in from Niles, Canfield, Boardman and even Warren.
Penny said he decided to approach Shaffer about putting a course in because he and his friends were driving 45 minutes to Champion to play.
“I thought this was a really good idea to bring to my community because I really enjoy it,” Penny said.
Penny and his friends helped Shaffer design the 5,321-foot course. They laid out the majority of the 18 holes, and Shaffer made some tweaks.
Now, 18 yellow goals constructed from metal and chain-link fence dot the landscape of the park.
Shaffer continues to make changes as people start to use the course. The park has widened holes and trimmed trees to make them more accommodating.
The course is a bit more open than other courses Penny has played.
“That’s nice,” he said. “Especially if you’re new to the game. If you have a few bad throws, you can still spot your disc with ease.”
The park needs to make some additions to the goals so they comply with Professional Disc Golf Association standards. Local organizations have expressed interest about having tournaments at the park once they are PDGA-compliant.
But as of now, Shaffer said the course is getting a lot of use.
“It seems about 2 p.m. most days, the course gets pretty busy,” he said.
Those interested in trying out the course can park in the main parking lot. The first tee is south of the wooden fence at the south side of the lot. A metal box contains scorecards and pencils.
PDGA-approved discs can be purchased at most sporting-goods stores, and a starter kit runs about $30.