Dedication to disc golf in the area

by Brendan Koerner - the walton tribune

Walton County is home to multiple public parks that residents can use at almost any time.

From outdoor sports to just wanting to enjoy nature, these parks are a hotspot for friends and families to meet up with one another.

Among the activities available is disc golf, and it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the area.

To help facilitate the growth, the Walton County Disc Golf Club was established in 2015 and has been growing ever since. Club president Ryan Eagleson explained to The Walton Tribune how much it’s grown in just a couple of years.

“In 2022, we only had about 36 members,” Eagleson said. “We’ve increased to almost 90 members now, and one of our main goals is to continue to increase membership numbers. I got the organization registered as a 501(c) to become a non-profit. We’re able to host anything from fundraisers to tournaments to raise money, and that’s really helped with the growth of the sport.”

To keep up with the increased demand for disc golf, the club worked with the county in order to open the area’s most recently built course, Heritage Pines.

Club member and former board member Ashley Schnier explained how the opportunity to build Heritage Pines came about.

“We just got a call [from the county] one day saying they had a piece of property that they wanted to build a disc golf course,” Schnier said. “I then reached out to Brian Yoder, who was a club member and just got done designing a course over in Covington, and let him know we had a piece of property to walk and design on.”

Aside from Heritage Pines, Walton County also has disc golf courses at Creswell Park and Matthews Park.

Eagleson acknowledged that the late John Reid was the biggest reason all parks in the area have started to attract more players.

“John Reid, who unfortunately passed away recently, was the biggest factor for the growth of disc golf in the area,” Eagleson said. “We’re now the biggest club outside of the Atlanta area, and we always maintain the local courses, cutting grass and getting trees limbed up, so that anyone can go out there and have a good time. We owe a lot to John.”

The course quality in Walton County has become so good that it attracts the best of the best.

Ezra Robinson, a professional disc golfer, stands by a hole after scoring an ace at the Heritage Pines disc golf course in Walton County. Ezra Robinson – Contributed photo

Ezra Robinson, a Snellville native, is currently a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association and grew up playing local courses.

He comes from a family of disc golfers and recognized that the sport’s growth in Walton County is amazing.

“It’s been really cool to see the growth of disc golf in Walton County, because five years ago, there was really only one course in the area, Matthews Park which is now John Reid Memorial Park, and it was in rough shape,” Robinson said. “The county’s disc golf club did a great job getting that course cleaned up, so that now, people would drive to go play that course. Then with Heritage Pines, it’s one of my favorite courses. I consider it my home course, and I would play there every day if I could.”

Robinson also believes that Heritage Pines is one of the more challenging courses in the area and is great practice for him while he’s away from the tour.

“The first course I grew up playing was wide open with not many trees,” Robinson said. “With Heritage Pines, the whole course is tight with trees everywhere. Almost every hole is a skinny gap, so being able to practice on a challenging course is really enjoyable and helps me work on my game.”

Robinson is someone who has played disc golf all over the world, from Vermont to Finland, for many years, and even he still comes to Walton County to play in his free time.

And it’s still relatively new to the area.

Members of the Walton County Disc Golf Club stand by one of the Heritage Pines holes during a round together. Heritage Pines is the county’s newest course. Walton County Disc Golf Club contributed photo

The re-grand opening of Heritage Pines came back in October, and the area is beginning to host more tournaments between there and Matthews Park (John Reid Memorial).

With how in-depth the sport has become in the area, it may be intimidating to get started for new players.

Well, Schnier explained why he believes disc golf is the perfect sport for young people to get started with.

“It’s not a very expensive sport to start playing,” Schnier said. “Most disc golf courses are in public parks, so that helps, and it’s always available to all ages and ranges of talent levels. The old phrase, ‘idle hands are the devil’s play things,’ rings true, so the more we can get the youth out to be active with something like disc golf, the more likely they are to stay away from bad stuff.”

Ultimately, disc golf is something anyone can pick up.

On top of its accessibility, almost everyone that plays is willing to help newcomers.

Robinson said that, “the best part about playing in Walton County is the people,” and it’s growing even more because of that.

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