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FRONTPAGE

July 22. 2014 7:35PM

Disc golf on verge of coming to Manchester


Manchester Parks & Rec Chief Don Pinard works on his short game while giving a tour of the city's 18-hole course in wooded land adjacent to Brown and Mitchell Park and the Pine Grove Cemetery. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)


Andy Vachon, right, and Don Pinard of Manchester Parks & Recreation demonstrate a round of disc golf at the city's 18-hole course in wooded land adjacent to Brown and Mitchell Park and the Pine Grove Cemetery. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER -- The Queen City is known for having one of the only municipally-owned golf courses in the state, and soon it will be home to a new course — one with forested paths instead of greens and discs in place of little white balls.

Perhaps most important in the view of would-be disc golfers, it will be free to play at the course, which will span about 70 acres of wooded land adjacent to the Brown and Mitchell Park and the Pine Grove Cemetery. In places, the course will overlook the Merrimack River.

The goal of disc golf — sometimes referred to as “the poor man’s golf” — is to throw frisbee-like discs into baskets, which, like the traditional game, are typically laid out in a meandering series of 18 “holes.” More common in the West, the sport is steadily gaining in popularity in the Northeast.

Manchester Chief of Parks Don Pinard said he’s hopeful the 18-hole course, dubbed “the Hollows,” will catch on in a big way.

“It’s very affordable recreation,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how old or young you are; it’s a great walk through the woods.”

The only gear necessary for the game are the discs, which sell for $9 to $16 each.

Parks Division employees have been working with volunteers over the summer to clear brush and downed trees for the course. So far, one hole has been set up, and Pinard hopes the course will be ready to open sometime in the fall.

Pinard estimated that building the course will cost $15,000 to $20,000, with much of the money going toward the baskets and the design of the course.

The division hired Eric McCabe, the winner of the 2010 Professional Disc Golf Association World Championship, to design the course. McCabe wanted far less than another designer, in part as a way to gain a foothold in New England, Pinard said.

“It’s kind of their way getting into New England,” Pinard said. “New England is behind the curve, and this is a step forward, Manchester being the biggest city (in New Hampshire).”

Pinard said down the line, the course could generate revenue for the city. “We feel confident we’re going to be able to attract a pro tournament, and that would bring some revenue,” he said.

The closest public course to Manchester is Muldoon Park in Pelham. There are 19 disc golf courses in New Hampshire, many of them at ski resorts, according to the Disc Golf Scene website.

Pinard recently outlined the plans for the Manchester course in an email to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. He said he didn’t need board approval to move forward on the plan.

“This parcel of land hasn’t been ... touched in years,” he said. “It’s making good use of the land that is there.”

Those interested in more information or in volunteering can call the Parks Division at 624-6444, or visit the Facebook page “The Hollows Disc Golf Course.”

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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