Lake Tahoe’s fall season perfect time to take up disc golfing | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe’s fall season perfect time to take up disc golfing

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Inhaling a sharp whistle, Scott Fahrendorf raises his Frisbee for his dog Martin to stare and unspool his tongue at for a split second.

Then Fahrendorf quickly crouches, pivots his back foot and flings the neon yellow disc — hard.

The toss is not meant for Martin to chase down and catch in his mouth. No, the toss is zipped tightly at a metal basket circled with chains — a disc golf target — at the Truckee River Regional Park Disc Golf Course.

For Fahrendorf, a Truckee resident, there's nowhere he'd rather be on a lazy, sunny Monday afternoon.

“What I love about disc golf is you can have really good days and really bad days

— but it’s always fun.”Scott Fahrendorf

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"It's the best way to get my dog some exercise, and it's also just great to play the sport," Fahrendorf said.

Fahrendorf is far from alone. Visit any of the area disc golf courses — there are a handful — and one will hear the frequent clangs of discs spinning into baskets from sunup to sundown.

"You see a lot more people," said Fahrendorf, who picked up the sport in college 10 years ago. "It used to be just like burnouts, really. And now you see families coming out on the weekend and different athletes — older guys, younger guys. It's perfect because you see all types of people."

Indeed, the sport has rapidly grown in popularity in the last decade. According to a 2013 study by the U.S. Disc Golf Championship, the number of disc golf courses listed with the Professional Disc Golf Association has increased by 48 percent since 2008.

David Polivy, owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports and director of many of the region's disc golf tournaments, thinks the numbers are only going to keep climbing.

"The fact that there are simply so many courses out there," Polivy said, "people are starting to see these courses because they are in regional parks and at campuses and other high profile areas. Between people physically seeing the sport a lot more, that's getting people interested."

Much of that heightened interest and expansion has occurred in the Lake Tahoe area. In fact, with nine regional courses at an altitude above 6,000 feet and varying in difficulty and terrain (hilly, flat, foresty), Tahoe is known as a disc golf destination not only in the West, but the entire the United States.

So much so, Polivy said, that through the cooperative participation of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, he's been "working to elevate our region as a disc golf vacation destination."

Aside from the array of scenic courses, why else does disc golf's popularity continue to soar in Tahoe-Truckee?

"It's a good way to get out and it's cheap and fast — a lot faster than ball golf," said Toby Johnson, a Kings Beach resident.

Johnson was playing with his longtime friend Jeff Fillinger, a Truckee native, at Truckee River Regional Park.

"We can do a round in about an hour and a half on a good day," Fillinger added. "We have kids, so we don't have a lot of time to play six hours — at least six hours — at Northstar (Golf Course); the wives don't like it."

Aside from the length of time needed to play 18 holes, disc golf shares more similarities with ball golf than many might realize.

Sure, you can get by with just one disc and a desire to hike through the woods. But, if you want to hang with the Fahrendorfs, Fillingers and Johnsons — all three play competitively in area tournaments — one needs more than a single disc and hiking shoes.

"You're going to need a minimum of three discs: a driver, mid-range and a putter," said Polivy, whose shop, Tahoe Mountain Sports, has all the disc golf equipment required. "Just like in regular golf, you have different clubs that do different things, go different distances, the same thing is true for disc golf.

"You have different discs that are going to fly on different patterns and different flights, and go different distances."

Not to mention, there are a variety of ways to hold and throw the disc.

"The most basic place you would start is either with a backhand throw or a forehand throw," Polivy said. "But there are all different ways of throwing, overhand and all sorts of fun stuff. Depending on how and where you release the disc will determine its flight."

Added Fahrendorf: "You have to try each different shot and really work on them. You got to play a lot."

Based on the sheer number of people who visit a disc golf course like Truckee Regional Park on a cool October day, it's safe to say that's exactly what people are doing. Navigating disc golf courses like clockwork, by themselves, with their dogs, or with friends.

"What I love about disc golf," Fahrendorf said after his driver curves into a thicket of trees, "is you can have really good days and really bad days — but it's always fun."

Get out there

Check out the list of disc golf courses in the region:

Bijou Community Park

Where: South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Holes: 27

Target type: DISCatcher

Tee type: rubber

Course length: 7,920 feet

Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Where: Kirkwood, Calif.

Holes: 18

Target type: DISCatcher

Tee type: rubber

Course length: 6,590 feet

North Tahoe Lions Club Disc Golf Course

Where: Incline Village, Nev.

Holes: 18

Target type: DISCatcher

Tee type: rubber mats

Course length: 4,500 feet

Sierra College Disc Golf Course

Where: Truckee, Calif.

Holes: 18

Target type: DGA

Tee type: rubber mats

Course length: 6,422 feet

Squaw Valley Disc Golf Course at High Camp

Where: Olympic Valley, Calif.

Holes: 18

Tee type: rubber

Target type: Mach 5

Course length: N/A

Tahoe Vista Regional Disc Golf Course

Where: Tahoe Vista, Calif.

Holes: 18

Target type: DISCatcher

Tee type: rubber

Course length: 5,900 feet

Truckee River Regional Park

Where: Truckee, Calif.

Holes: 18

Target type: Mach III

Tee type: concrete

Course length: 4,500 feet

Turtle Rock Park Disc Golf

Where: Markleeville, Calif.

Holes: 18

Target type: Mach III

Tee type: rubber mats

Course length: 5,711 feet

Zephyr Cove Disc Golf Course

Where: Zephyr Cove, Nev.

Holes: 18

Target type: DISCatcher

Tee type: rubber

Course length: 5,256 feet