A flying disc toy and a steady hand are all a person needs to participate in a new sport spreading across Ohio.
Disc golf, a cross between golf and the discs best known by the brand name Frisbee, has made its way to East Harbor State Park, where a 10-hole course weaves between trees and ponds. The course is the first of its kind in Ottawa County.
"It's been in the planning for a long time," said Ina Brolis, park manager. "More and more state parks are putting in disc golf courses and having tremendous success with that."
The five-acre disc golf course opened to visitors and campers Aug. 30.
Derek Warner, member of the Disc Golf Association and Professional Disc Golf Association, helped design the $10,000 course, which was made possible by donations from the Friends of East Harbor.
"Everybody's really happy that it's finally happened," Warner said. "It's going to bring a whole new group of people to the sport."
Disc golf has the same rules as golf, but instead of a golf ball, "disc golfers" use a disc and aim at an elevated basket instead of a hole. Small chains hanging above the basket keep the discs from bouncing off the goal.
Brolis said the disc golf course complements the park and enhances it.
"It's definitely expanded upon the nature walks and trails in the park," Brolis said. "It's very beneficial for recreational users, as well as nature lovers."
The course starts at the Lockwood Shelter and crisscrosses between fields and woods throughout the park. One of the more unique spots on the course is hole No. 3, which challenges players to throw a disc around trees and rock formations.
The 10-hole course could soon have eight more holes, which would occupy another four acres in the park. Park officials are waiting on donations, which would help pay for another eight holes and associated construction costs.
Brolis said she hopes to have the course completed before summer.
Warner said he plans to bring a tournament to the park that would feature members of the Professional Disc Golf Association and Disc Golf Association. A date has not been set.
Disc golf, established in 1976, is a relatively new sport but is gaining ground across Ohio, Warner said.
"Courses are going in at an incredible rate," Warner said. "We're noticing the littler towns are getting in on the act and that's where I think we'll see the growth."
Disc golf enthusiasts can also find courses in Norwalk, Toledo and Bowling Green.