Fore! Disc golf organization hopes to expand

Wareham High School looks to add disc golf unit to physical education classes
Jul 14, 2022

A player eyes his target, shifting his weight from his back foot to his front as he takes a few practice swings at the tee box. With his focus on the hole, he steps forward, lets his arm snap into the air and … tosses a disc toward the chain-netted basket.

Players descended onto Little Harbor Country Club on Wednesday afternoon for a one-day disc golf tournament set up on the back nine. The event was organized by the Cranberry Country Disc Golf Association, a Plymouth County-based group that is looking to expand across the county, including in Wareham.

Two of Cranberry Country’s lead organizers, Marcus Gomes and Josh Quackenbush, spent the day introducing players to the temporary disc golf course at Little Harbor — and playing some holes themselves.

Players compete with different kinds of discs — drivers, mid-range discs and putters, like in regular golf — and try to land their disc in a metal basket in the fewest number of throws. Disc golf requires less clear-cutting of trees than regular golf courses, Quackenbush pointed out, which was evident as players navigated through wooded areas toward their goal on Wednesday.

Though Cranberry Country was created in 2014, the organization has made a push in the past year to expand from its origins in Middleboro and Lakeville into the rest of the county, Gomes and Quackenbush said. 

That could mean exploring the possibility of designing a more permanent course somewhere in Wareham, Quackenbush said. The organization is hoping to hold another temporary course in Wareham in the future, sometime in September.

Gomes said he had spoken with Wareham High School principal Scott Palladino about bringing the sport to students. Elsewhere on the South Coast, teachers at Old Rochester Regional High School are also looking to introduce the sport in class.

In a phone call Thursday, Palladino said Gomes, also a WHS alumnus, reached out to him a little less than a year ago about the game. What the school is now planning, Palladino said, is including a unit on disc golf in students’ physical education classes. The school bought a few portable disc golf baskets and discs for the unit, he said.

“I’m hoping it does take off,” Palladino said of students’ interest in the game. If there’s momentum and funding, he said there may be a possibility of setting up a permanent course around the high school. But that’s an idea for the future.

“I do hope though that it comes to fruition,” he said, adding that disc golf is an inclusive sport that anyone can play.

Quackenbush, who is also a disc golf course designer, said he started playing disc golf casually in the 1990’s, and then more competitively around 2009. He was one of the designers for the Sunnymede course in Middleboro.

About a decade ago, there were around 15 disc golf courses in Massachusetts, he said.

Now there’s more like 50-60 courses statewide, Quackenbush said.

“We saw our numbers growing,” he said of membership within the Professional Disc Golf Association, the national organization that oversees the sport.

Disc golf experienced an explosion of interest when the pandemic began, Quackenbush said, as it’s primarily an outdoor game where players could enjoy time together while social distancing.

At Little Harbor on Wednesday, several dozen players visited the course to try the temporary course out. Also on hand was the Fitchburg-based store Disc Golf 978, which had a wide variety of discs, apparel and other disc golf materials available for purchase.