Looking for a new hobby in 2017? Dust off that old frisbee and join the Silicon Valley Disc Golf Club.
The club’s founder and disc golf Hall of Famer, Jim Challas, says that the club has around 200 members who are mostly between 20–30 years old. Every Tuesday night from April through September there’s league play that anyone can attend and monthly tournaments every 2nd Saturday of the month.
Beginners are especially encouraged to get out there and play. Jim jokes that “disc golf is really just a walk in the park.” He promotes the game to newcomers, saying that “there’s no green fees and no tee times!” and in disc golf “you don’t even need to catch!”
In 1997, the club received permits from Santa Clara County to build their first course in Hellyer Park. Since then, they’ve built courses in Parque Del La Raza and Kelley Park in San Jose. Their latest project is in Cupertino, where they’re clearing the way for a new course in Steven’s Creek County Park. The club has been coming together on weekends, where they’re physically removing brush and building their new course from scratch, together.
Jim Challas has been around disc golf almost his entire life, playing the game before it was really even “a thing.” Jim and his father would throw their original Wham-O frisbee around in their front yard and after a while, they started aiming for the fire hydrant. Then they went for the hedge in the neighbor’s yard. Then they tried landing the frisbee on a designated section of the sidewalk. “We were playing disc golf before we knew it,” Jim said with a smile.
He saw the sport at it’s height in 1980, when 50,000 people attended the World Frisbee Championships at the Rose Bowl. And he saw the decline after Wham-O sold in 1981 and the game lost all its corporate sponsorship.
Since then, the game has relied on grassroots efforts and organizations, like the Silicon Valley Disc Golf Club, to continue to grow. Today there are over 5,000 disc golf courses scattered across the US.
On a macro level, Jim can’t help but wonder where disc golf would be if the game had more corporate sponsorships, like golf has. But on a micro level, Jim’s overjoyed with the frisbee community he’s been able form here in the Silicon Valley. He’s lost some of his power with the driver, but he still loves being out on the course and seeing the game live on.
If you want to get involved in 2017, check out the club’s first tournament of the year in Kelley Park on Jan. 7th at 9am. Remember, it’s just a walk in the park!