Spin It To Win It
By: Andrew Gillis
Tucked on the side of a mountain in Fairfield County lies a rugged patch of land that’s not as green as the trees that mask the mountainside.
Eagles Nest Disc Golf Course, where a landfill was once located, is one of the premier disc golf locations in southeast Ohio.
Lancaster Disc Golf Alliance President Adam Ankrom added a completely new dimension to his life at Eagles Nest; a place where he could compete in tournaments he’d never thought possible.
“I mean, it’s a passion,” Ankrom says. “You really just have to want to do it. When I’m out here doing this stuff, to me, it doesn’t feel like work. To me, it’s just something that I strive to do. It’s not even a hobby anymore.”
Disc golf, sometimes known as frisbee golf, is a game with rules similar to traditional golf. The object of the sport is to send a plastic disc down a course toward the target area, a stand-up flag with a chain wrapped around it.
Played in nine, or 18-hole increments at one of over 6,000 courses worldwide, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association, the goal of the game is to score as low as possible. At the end of the game, the player with the fewest throws wins.
The sport is currently played in 40 countries, and there are an estimated 44,000 members in the Professional Disc Golf Association. The Lancaster Disc Golf Alliance has about 100 members.
“We’ve went from having 25 people show up to 125 people showing up every year,” Ankrom says. “There are national tournaments that get thousands of competitors. I traveled to Kentucky and Kansas. It’s incredible how fast it’s grown.”
Established in 2016, Eagles Nest is a course with 23 holes instead of the typical 18. It’s considered to be one of the more difficult courses in the area, because of its terrain: hilly, and sometimes wooded.
Players use different types of discs such as drivers, putters and mid-range. The discs have different dimensions, as they’re constructed to have specific benefits. Based on size and weight, some discs can cut through the air with more success than others.
“I would say it’s [similar players throwing form], it’s like a baseball swing,” Ankrom says. “Everybody’s going to swing the bat the way you swing a baseball bat, but everybody has their own specific stance, their own specific quirks that they have in their swings.”
But like each variation of throw, each player has their own story of how they got into disc golf.
Vice Chairman of the Board, Nick Hood, didn’t begin playing disc golf until a few years ago. Even when he went out, he thought the game wasn’t interesting enough. Just a few hours after his first game, he was at Dick’s Sporting Goods buying discs for his next game.
“There’s 100 courses or more just in central Ohio that you can play at for free,” Hood says. “That particular aspect is really enticing to people.”
Tournaments are commonplace in disc golf, with different events happening all throughout the United States. The largest event takes place in Austin, Texas each year.
The Lancaster players have traveled to Kentucky and Kansas, and will continue to travel to tournaments in the future.
But at Eagles Nest, there only continues to be growth for disc golf.
Today the organization continue to promote disc golf to different members of the community, recruiting people of all ages to come out and play the sport that has now impacted Ankrom for more than a decade.
Just over 10 years ago, Ankrom had no idea what disc golf was — In fact, he thought the targets were feeders for horses.
For Ankrom, the hope remains that in the near future there will be up to five disc golf courses between Lancaster and Athens. But for now, Ankrom will remain in his role as president.
“Having other people playing around you is the best thing you can do,” he says. “Get out and play at your local courses and, you know, get with people who’ve been doing that for a while, and that’s the easiest way to learn.”
Both Hood and Ankrom have said that there’s nothing they’ve seen like Eagle’s Nest. The terrain, the views and the course itself are all unique, and it’s what they all appreciate about it.
“Really what Eagle’s Nest means to me is that I’m proud,” Hood says. “I’m really proud of what we’ve done as a club there.”