Clayton Town Council gives disc golf enthusiastic reception

sgilman@newsobserver.comMarch 28, 2014 

Disc golf might come to East Clayton Community Park, joining the soccer field, baseball field, walking trail and picnic pavilion at 1774 Glen Laurel Road.

Earlier this month, Town Council members heard a presentation on disc golf from the leader of a stateside group. Separately in East Clayton, the council recently agreed to help build a playground that special-needs children could use.

“This is on a much smaller scale financially than the (special-needs playground), but we feel that it is just as important,” said Clayton Parks and Recreation director Larry Bailey.

Robert Leonard, representing the N.C. Professional Disc Golf Association, gave the presentation to the Town Council.

“The game is very simple,” Leonard said, holding up a plastic disc. “You throw one of these discs into one of the baskets like the one pictured on the screen. Once you do that, you move on to the next one.”

Disc golf is best with a challenging terrain, Leonard said, and the rolling landscape at East Clayton Community Park is ideal.

“You gotta have trees in a disc golf course, so there is minimal clearing,” he said. “I’ve seen the property. I like the lay of the land. We want that topography.”

Leonard shared numbers with councilmen to try to convince them a disc golf course would be a boon to Clayton. With nearly 13 percent growth in courses in the United States from 2012 to 2013, the popularity of the game is on an upward trajectory. It’s a game that nearly anyone can play, and about 500,000 people play regularly.

“There is tremendous opportunity for anybody of any skill set, age, sex, anything like that, to compete,” Leonard said.

With 940 registered disc golf courses in North Carolina, it’s popular here too. National and international champions have come from North Carolina, including Justin Jernigan, who is from Clayton. Clubs like the Triangle Chain Posse, the Cary Area Disc League and the N.C. State Disc Golf Team are nearby.

“There is a lot of people playing, and a lot of these play locally,” Leonard said.

He added that the nearest course is 17.9 miles away: “You have all these players leaving town every week to go to Zebulon, to go to Raleigh.”

If the town could keep those players in Clayton, they would boost local businesses.

“Saturday night, they’re going to go out to a local bar, go out to dinner,” Leonard said.

It wouldn’t cost the town much either. The 18 baskets would cost $500-$600 each, and Leonard said he would design the course layout for free. He has been a consultant on more than 12 course designs, Bailey said, and is fully qualified.

That could save the town five figures, Leonard said.

Not only that, but basket installation might not cost the town a penny, he said. “Volunteers are readily available,” Leonard said. “There is nothing that motivates the players of disc golf like a new course.”

Response from council members was enthusiastic.

“I’m excited for this and the opportunity it’s going to bring here to Clayton,” Councilman Butch Lawter said.

Councilman Michael Grannis agreed. “I want to know when you’re going to move here so you can start,” he told Leonard.

Bailey said the town has not budgeted for a disc golf, and the course is “probably a year away.” Next up are public meetings to gauge interest and raise awareness, and a close look at the geography of the park.


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