Let it fly | | Santa Fe Reporter

Disc golf is like golf, except without the balls and clubs. Replace them with a plastic disc and replace the flag sticks and holes with metal baskets. And there you have it: disc golf, mainly.

It’s cheaper and requires less equipment, but like golf, the disc version is played in a wide open space – a chance to enjoy the desert landscape of New Mexico. While the pros are starting to make a name for themselves, earning millions in sponsorships, the sport remains a relaxed game for most players, works for large groups of friends and there’s something satisfying about the way a plastic disc hovers and slices through the air before falling. back to earth.

Among the local disc golf community are the diehards who, every day, can be found carrying their bag of discs from tee to tee. Yet disc golf is the type of sport anyone can play and one of the fastest growing in the country. Home to a few courses with a new one on the Southside nearing completion, Santa Fe could be where the interested player turns into a devoted enthusiast.

“Disc golf is booming,” says Ryan Flahive, who runs the Santa Fe Disc Golf organization. “We have seen the numbers increase during COVID and in 2021 there were 1.5 new courses installed [nationwide] every day. That’s huge growth.

The most played course in Santa Fe is Arroyo Chamisos Parkbehind the Genoveva Chavez Community Center (3221 Rodeo Road, (505) 955-4000). The 18-hole course has three different sets of tees, giving players of all levels a starting point: red tees are for beginners, blue for more experienced golfers and yellow for advanced golfers. Basket placements require smart shots to navigate around the junipers, and an active disc golf league can be found doing it most Sundays; the group meets at hole six at 9:30 a.m.

The course at Institute of American Indian Arts(83 Avan Nu Po Road, (505) 424-2300) is however considered the best in the region. This is a private membership course, but guests are welcome to play with a $5 day pass. Flahive, who also works as an archivist for the school, actually kickstarted his creation.

“I love doing it and it’s all I expect from a disc golf course,” he says. “It’s nice and quiet. We have no pedestrians to deal with or random picnickers in our fairway.

With cedar, juniper, and cacti throughout, the IAIA course features scenic rolling hills and views of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The front nine features multiple holes that cover less than 300 feet, while the back nine features a longer design for players to really get ripped.

Then there is the collection of 11 baskets that make up the oldest course in Ashbaugh Park (1703 Cerrillos Road, (505) 955-5920), although the locals have found a way to turn it into 18 holes; the course has long fairways to manage for disc golfers.

“There are a lot of alumni who have been starting Ashbaugh Park since 1992,” Flahive says. “They are still there and they are still playing.”

The community is, however, delighted with the new course being built at Swan Park (5300 Jaguar Drive, (505) 955-6949): Jaguar Ridge, designed by Avery Jenkins, professional course designer and Professional Disc Golf Association World Champion. The city has also contracted DiscGolfPark, a course design firm, to supply most of the equipment, which includes professional and amateur grass-covered teeing areas. The company offers around 700 courses worldwide, most of them in Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. With help from the City of Santa Fe, Flahive and the volunteers hope to have the project fully completed by the end of the summer. The plan is to have the course playable long before that, though.

“By ‘playable,’ I mean there will be a full set of starting mats and a full set of baskets,” Flahive explains. “Equipment is going to be awesome, just trying to get the 18 long tee stacks to satisfy the addictions of those people who always want to play on a new course.”

The Santa Fe Disc Golf Facebook group is a constant stream of information for beginners and seasoned disc golfers. Members often share tee times, tournament information, events, and lost drives found at area courses.

“There’s usually people playing every day of the week and they’re posting there,” says Flahive. “Reach out and meet the locals. They can help you and I think it’s important that people learn to throw the right way and not pick up bad habits like any game.”

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