New sport rapidly growing in East Kentucky: Changing lives in the process

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 12:06 AM EDT
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LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - The funny-looking metal contraptions at Whitley Branch Veterans Park with chains dangling around them have mistakenly been called a number of things; squirrel feeders, trash cans, bird feeders and even fly traps.

But actually, they are targets used for one of the fastest-growing sports in the world: disc golf. It is played using similar rules to regular golf. Players throw a flying disc from a tee box toward a target, or basket, and continue throwing until the target is reached.

“I wanted more opportunities and places to play and just opportunities for the community because for rule areas there just needs to be more things to do,” said course designer, Jordan Infield.

Infield is a sponsored professional from Knoxville, Tennessee. He designed the first and only 18 hole course in the area.

“Having an 18-hole course in the region is huge,” said Jordan Infield, a professional disc golfer who designed the course at Whitley Branch. “90 percent of the courses in North America are free to play.”

Infield, who lives in Williamsburg, manages the East Kentucky Disc Golf Players Page on Facebook, which he set up to promote and grow the sport in the area. Since the first of the year, the page has grown 43 percent. Infield credits the coronavirus pandemic and the sport being an easy activity to social distance with.

“We went from about eight people for years ago to over 200 people today on that page and I would say 80 percent of them are at least active I would say maybe even more,” said Infield.

The sport is similar to golf, but a shorter course allows for a quicker game and the price is more affordable.

“90 percent of the courses in North America are free to play,” said Infield.

The sport has been a godsend to Mike Sowards.

“I’m a disabled veteran so I have a lot of health issues,” said Sowards who served in the first Gulf War.

“It’s really helped me with my breathing and my upper body flexibility because of all the turning,” he said. “I get around a lot better now than before I started playing disc golf.

Sowards was injured when his vehicle was hit by a mortar shell, sending a piece of shrapnel tearing through his shoulder. The new sport, helping transform his life.

“I’ve lost about 55 pounds playing. Just good fun to get out walking and play the game is great” he said.

Proving the activity has something for anyone and everyone, allowing Eastern Kentuckians something to do while enjoying a beautiful park, and getting some exercise.

Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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