Hidden in Plain Sight: I.V.’s Disc Golf Course

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Lauren Marnel Shores
Staff Writer

Walking around Isla Vista, few realize that the town is set as a large frisbee golf course. Built in 2000, the course was designed by “Steady” Ed Headrick, the Father of Disc Golf, who visited and worked with the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District as a way of encouraging residents and college students to engage with the parks.

Frisbee golf, or disc golf, is a game where players attempt to throw their frisbees into metal baskets while using the least amount of throws, similar to golf. Players begin at a tee and attempt to make their throws into the target while avoiding different hazards, such as trees, sand, or water.

“It was a good use of space. It uses natural open space and creates a passive recreation. The trees still exist, the pathways still exist, there’s no concrete. We live in a college community and recreation is super important,” said Pegeen Soutar, the chairperson of Isla Vista’s Recreation and Park District Board.

Soutar explained that the course was met with a lot of curiosity and positive reception when the course was first built. Since then, the course has continued attracting modest numbers, including a group of regular players who come out every weekend.

“There’s a group of guys we always see that come in from Goleta,” Soutar said. “I know because they come every Saturday morning and they bring their biscuits. They come prepared to say hello to all my dogs … They come in with their packs with their different types of frisbees: their putters, their distance ones. There’s a whole slew for different frisbees for different lengths and putters to get them into the basket.”

This group of local outsiders are just one of many who come to visit the parks and play the disc golf course from outside Isla Vista.

The course is “good for beginners, but for those more experienced, it doesn’t garner a lot of challenge,” stated Mike Sale, a UCSB alumnus and president of the former UCSB Disc Golf Club. Sale explained that the lack of difficulty was due to the short distances for each hole, ranging from only about 100 to 250 feet, whereas more professional courses will be closer to 600 feet. However, the course is very inviting to students who are simply looking for a fun activity outdoors.

Sale said his advice to new players is to “practice and try to play with people who have a lot of experience.” In addition, he tells beginners to get to know their discs better, as there are three different types: putters, mid-range, and drivers, each used for different distances. Due to the shorter distances of the Isla Vista course, regular discs used for simple games of catch work perfectly for the course.

For interested players, the disc golf tee card can be found on the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District website, where a brief overview of the game’s rules, a course map, and each holes’ par are all listed.

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