Get dressed for a walk in the woods, take disc in hand, and head out to rattle some chains.
Disc golf has emerged as a top level competitive international game, and the East Kootenay is one of its hotbeds. But a group of local seniors has discovered its joys as a pastime, and head out every morning, every day of the year, to partake of it.
The “Chain Rattlers,” as they call themselves, are now seeking to share what they’ve learned with seniors, passing on their enthusiasm and helping grow the sport, with a clinic to be held at Idlewild Park on Monday, Sept. 27.
Disc golf is flying disc sport, with rules similar to golf, with which a polypropene disc is sent spinning through the air from a tee pad towards the target, a basket with hanging chains to catch the disc if the throw is on target (hence the group’s name “Chain Rattlers”). The number of throws needed for each hole are tallied, as in golf. Different discs can be used for different distances and shot shapes.
Brian Clarkson was introduced to disc golf about two years ago and immediately fell in love with this unique sport.
“At the time I was aware that I was a bit unique as most of the disc golfers I encountered were less than half my age and many much younger still,” Clarkson said. “But from the beginning I appreciated several pluses to this wonderful sport. The beautifully rustic venues — Idlewild Park, College of the Rockies, Wycliffe Park and Parkland Middle School. Fresh air, good cardio exercise from an up and down stroll in the woods, being around like minded souls and wonderful positive stimulation from a number of factors, especially when you make a good throw.”
The average age of the Chain Rattlers is about 73. Such is their passion for disc golf that they play every morning, in all seasons, in all weather.
Robert Hawkins, one of the Chain Ratters, describes the sport as low impact — so easy on the body — and very casual. “A walk in the woods. But far more interesting than just a walk. And unlike golf [with balls and clubs], you can literally play disc golf with just one disc and the clothes on your back. What other sport can you do that in?”
There are four disc golf courses in the Cranbrook area — at Wycliffe (18 holes), by College of the Rockies (18 holes), Idlewild Park (18 holes) and Parkland Middle School (nine holes). There are other courses around the East Kootenay, and plans are in place to build another course at Kimberley as well. All of these courses are free to play.
The East Kootenay Disc Golf Club (EKDGC) serves as an umbrella group for players, and helps organize tournaments and plan, maintain and upgrade courses.
The Chain Rattlers will impart their enthusiasm and basic skills at their clinic on Sept. 27, at the Idlewild course. These skills include the basic throw.
“Most people start with their backhand throw to begin with,” Hawkins said. “You figure out where you’re starting and where you’re ending.” He describes the motion as pulling a chord to start a lawnmower, backhand and across your chest. As you release the disc, you flick your wrist, which gives the disc its spin.
Once you release the disc, that’s its terminal velocity. The spin gives it its smooth, straight trajectory.
And then you are set for the wonders of disc golf.
The Chain Rattlers clinic takes place at Idlewild Park, South, top parking lot (above equestrian riding paddock) on Monday, Sept. 27th at 12 Noon. This will be a no charge event. Get to the site by coming down 38th Avenue South, crossing 13 Street South into the Summit Drive parking lot at the Idlewild Park disc golf course. Dress comfortably for the weather and bring appropriate foot ware for a walk in the woods. Covid 19 guide lines will be followed, applicable to the number of participants. Pre-registration is required,Call Brian at 250-417-0648. If you have access to discs then bring them along otherwise the Chain Rattlers should be able to provide you with some “loners” for this one time experience.