Kevin Hodel has been playing disc golf for nearly 20 years.
When he moved to Seymour last March, he was disappointed there were no courses for him to practice his game.
Tired of driving to other communities to play, Hodel decided he wants to help bring disc golf to Seymour.
“I think this is a great location,” he said.
On Monday, he pitched his idea for a disc golf course at Freeman Field Athletic Complex to the Seymour Parks Board. Although no decisions were made, board members were receptive to and supportive of the concept.
Board President Monica Boyer said a disc golf course would broaden the range of activities the parks department offers to the community.
Disc golf combines elements of golf with flying discs. It’s played on a nine- or 18-hole course like golf, but instead of using clubs to hit golf balls into holes, people throw flying discs into baskets that are elevated on poles.
Scoring is similar to golf, the lower the better.
Just like there are different types of golf clubs, there are different discs to use when teeing off and when throwing from a shorter distance.
Hodel said the sport would be a great addition to the community because it’s cheap to play with discs costing around $10, accessible to a wide range of ages, can be played while observing social distance and is growing in popularity.
“As of this year, there are 6,966 courses in the U.S.,” he said. “When I started, there were around 1,722, so it has grown steadily.”
There are about 200 courses in Indiana.
A course in Seymour also would have the potential to attract people from other communities to come play and could become a host site for disc golf tournaments, he said.
“The high school could start a disc golf club,” he said.
There are 18-hole courses in Bloomington, Nashville, Columbus, North Vernon and one at Camp Atterbury. Bedford and Scottsburg both have nine-hole courses.
Boyer thought it might be better to start small.
“I think it might be wise to start with a nine-hole course and see how it is received instead of constructing an 18-hole course from the start,” she said.
Hodel said Freeman Field Athletic Complex would be an ideal site for the course because of its size. It also provides parking, shelter houses and restrooms.
“They can get big,” he said. “A really nice disc golf course could be 20 acres. I didn’t see any other parks in town where you would have enough space to do something like this. I think you could easily put 18 holes there.”
He also said the variations in terrain and trees at the park would benefit the course, adding a greater degree of difficulty.
Although there is a lot of activity at Freeman Field Athletic Complex, including soccer, baseball/softball and a cross country course, Hodel said a disc golf course could be designed to be safe for everyone.
“I wouldn’t do a really basic, simple beginner’s course, but I wouldn’t do a full-blown championship course that’s only for the advanced pros, either,” he said. “We would want to make it pretty flexible and fun, easy to use and safe.”
The parks department could purchase enough baskets for an 18-hole course with a couple of practice baskets for $6,500 to $7,200. That amount does not include installation or cost of concrete.
He suggested the city try to get local businesses and organizations to sponsor holes to help with the expense and also could seek out Boy Scouts who are looking for Eagle Scout projects.
Stacy Findley, director of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, said bringing disc golf to Seymour is a great idea.
“In terms of introducing new amenities to our parks, it is low-hanging fruit, meaning it is relatively cheap to introduce a whole new sport,” she said. “Any time you get a new user group of all ages, it’s a win-win. Seymour Parks and Recreation wants to see people outdoors using our parks.”
She also believes disc golf is a completely feasible project for Seymour to complete. She doesn’t foresee many obstacles once they can get started. But that could be awhile, she said, because of all of the other projects the parks department is tackling.
“I would say our department has a large list of projects in the works that we must complete first,” she said. “Construction of the two new ball diamonds is still underway at Freeman, and two new pickleball courts are also part of our current projects.”
Other projects on the list before disc golf include additional parking at Freeman Field Athletic Complex, repairs and improvements at Shields Park Pool and development of Westside Park.
“We need to prioritize our list of future projects,” she said. “Our five-year master plan is complete and will be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources by April 15. There is progress being made within our department, and it is very exciting.”
Findley said disc golf fits well into her goal to have something within Seymour Parks and Recreation for every member of the community to enjoy.
She said it’s always good when members of the community step up, get involved and provide new ideas.
“I always appreciate a community member’s enthusiasm for recreation and physical activity,” she said. “Mr. Hodel reached out to the mayor initially. That is how we began the conversation of disc golf.”
As an amateur player, Hodel said he has no vested interest in bringing the sport here.
“I’m just a guy who likes to play, and I noticed there’s an opportunity in Seymour,” he said.