Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids In Parks program Opens Two New Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses at Local Asheville High Schools
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program is getting kids and families reconnected with nature one “birdie” at a time. On May 19th the program celebrated the grand openings of two new Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses at North Buncombe High School (10am) and Enka High School (3pm).
The Nature Trail Disc Golf Course program that Kids in Parks has piloted in the Buncombe County High School system, is designed to reach the often hard-to-reach teenage population. Jason Urroz, the Director of the Kids in Parks program, says, “Disc golf is essentially a hike with a frisbee. If you ask most teens if they want to go for a two-mile long hike, they’ll probably say ‘No’. However, if you give them a disc and tell them to throw it at a target as part of a ‘game’, and to continue playing that game until they complete the course, they have essentially gone on a two mile hike without realizing it.”
The difference between a Nature Trail Disc Golf Course and a standard disc golf course is the addition of interpretive tee-signs and scorecards that double as field guides. These added amenities introduce players to the unique natural, cultural or historic resources that can be found on the course and each hole. In this way, as people play the course, they have the opportunity to learn about and connect with those resources, giving added value to the physical exercise component of their adventure.
Urroz, the creator of the Nature Trail Disc Golf Course concept said, “The Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses we have created at Owen, North Buncombe and Enka High Schools are the first disc golf courses in the world to include interpretive tee-signs and scorecards that double as field guides. It is such a natural fit; we are so excited to be the leaders in this endeavor.”
The Nature Trail Disc Golf Course at North Buncombe High School was created through partnerships formed between North Buncombe High School, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Western North Carolina Disc Golf Association, with grant funds being provided by the Buncombe County Parks and Greenways Department. Members of the Western North Carolina Disc Golf Association volunteered more than 300 hours in labor to develop the course, and the school’s new disc golf club and woodshop classes have provided other maintenance.
The Enka High School Course was created several years ago by a student as an Eagle Scout project, and was further developed by Enka High School math teacher and disc golf coach Travis Hartley. “Since we already had a disc golf course here at Enka High, and the Kids in Parks program was installing the courses at Owen and North Buncombe High Schools, it seemed like a natural fit for us to partner with Kids in Parks to retro-fit our existing course into a Nature Trail Disc Golf Course”, Hartley said. The North Buncombe High School Nature Trail Disc Golf Course is a short, family-friendly 9-hole course that utilizes a portion of woods near the Buncombe County Park Department’s soccer field. The woods are thick, and accuracy is important. However, the holes are short enough for beginners to have plenty of fun learning the game, while simultaneously learning about the trees and other resources. (note: there is a considerable amount of poison ivy on the course and eradication efforts are currently being planned).
The Enka High School NTDGC utilizes 11 baskets with 18 tee-pads to create an 18-hole course. The course offers a steady mix of open and wooded, long and short, and straight and curvy shots as it meanders around the campus. Beginners and advanced players alike will have fun developing their game, and their love for nature, at the Enka High NTDGC. Disc golf is a relatively inexpensive sport to play as there is no fee to play either of the courses and all that is needed is a golf disc or frisbee. The Buncombe County High School Nature Trail Disc Golf Courses at Owen, North Buncombe and Enka High Schools are open to the public during non-school hours (3:30-sunset weekdays, 8:00-sunset weekends). Get out there, have some fun, and collect some “birdies”.
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