Early spring in Maine is not the easiest time to plan an outdoor adventure. Some years the weather favors the snow-lovers. However, this year it seems the winter’s rapidly changing temperatures vary between ice, slush and mud, sometimes all in a single day. Luckily disc golf is an activity that works well during the awkward in-between seasons regardless of the ground conditions.
HOW TO PLAY
The game of disc golf involves throwing a plastic disc into a metal basket on a golf-like course in the woods. When my kids were younger we viewed this game as a hike with permission to throw stuff around (I think that’s appealing to adults as well).
There are serious players so my novice-level family always give those players a wide berth. Then again, some players carry coolers filled with adult beverages. And while empty cans in trash barrels around the course confirm this part of the game’s culture, I’ve always found it to be family-friendly with folks offering a quick wave while moving between holes.
Enmen Field in Brunswick is a favorite course my family has been playing on for more than a decade. The Beauty is newly redesigned and now features a whopping 27-hole course for novices (and dog owners – you can bring your leashed dog on the course for an additional fee). But take note that players can play fewer holes. There are no rules police on the course if you skip a few holes, or end the game after a dozen holes. There is a more advanced course at Enman Field called The Beast that is best left to the more serious players.
BRING YOUR OWN DISC
In March, Enman Field’s clubhouse is not open every day. Players are on the honor system to put $5 per person into the fee collection box near the door facing the parking lot (when the clubhouse is open, it’s a $6 fee). The trick of a closed clubhouse is the inability to rent discs (when they’re open it is $1 to rent) so be sure to plan ahead and borrow a disc or buy one ahead of time (Play It Again Sports in Portland sells discs; they range in price from $8-$19).
There are all kinds of discs, and it’s not unusual to see a player carrying a bag filled with a variety of drivers and putters. There are preferences about the style, weight and size, and some players really get into those fine details. The kids and I own midrange drivers and those have worked well as an all-purpose disc for us.
FOLLOWING THE COURSE MAP
We’ve played The Beauty course many times over the years, and despite a map on the back of the scorecard, we still lose track of baskets and tee pads. The concrete slab with a number on a nearby tree or trash barrel is sometimes hard to find. You can look for a numbered basket and work your way back to the tee pad. If the course is quiet (it usually is this time of year), then just play the holes in whatever order you find them as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s game.
Sometimes you can see the basket from the tee pad but many times you can’t and that initial tee off is a bit of a directional guessing game. But don’t sweat it. My daughter’s friend compared the game to the casualness of mini-golf. Not everyone feels that way about the game but we thought it was a good assessment for the way we approach it.
In spring, the streams winding through the course are bigger than they are in summer so retrieving a wayward disc makes it a wetter affair. Puddles and mud are also part of the course at this time of year as well so wear rain or snow boots because your feet are likely to get wet one way or another.
HOW TO THROW A DISC
My daughters and I throw the disc like a Frisbee with our hand curled toward our wrist and use a hard flick away from the body. In the disc golf world this is known as the backhand throw. It’s the most popular type in the game. We have tried the forehand throw (bending the wrist back before snapping the disc forward to propel it toward a target) but it’s not our favorite. We switch things up a bit when we’re close to the metal basket by using the hammer or “tomahawk” throw, which is like an overhand baseball toss. The hammer throw is also a handy way to get out of a thick grouping of trees when you fall off course. When we introduced my daughter’s high school friend to the game, he was concerned he didn’t know how to throw the disc. He soon learned that we don’t care much about skill. Just aim and throw toward the basket and enjoy a walk in the woods while we goof around. And, keep an eye out for a picnic table so we can eat lunch (we carry backpacks with our snacks and found a lovely picnic table near hole 10).
We keep score but aren’t overly serious about it. We have a few laughs at our technique (or lack thereof) and simply enjoy playing a game outside during the in-between season while looking for signs of spring.
WHERE: 1024 River Road, Brunswick
HOURS: Open dawn to dusk daily
HOW MUCH: $6, $5 honor box rate when clubhouse is closed; free for kids 9 and under
RENTALS: $1 per disc when clubhouse is open
DOG-FRIENDLY: Yes, on a leash. There is a $5 dog fee and, they’re only allowed on The Beauty course.
CONTACT: mainediscgolf.com/enman or 798-5000
MORE: To find more disc golf locations, check out discgolfscene.com/courses/Maine