Pro disc golfer says course would be “incredible benefit”
Professional disc golf player Tommy Holbrook demonstrates how to throw a disc into a basket. In disc golf each “hole” has a basket at the end. When a player gets the disc in the basket it marks completion of that hole. Holbrook has had a hand in developing several courses and says the proposed course in the Talking Rock Nature Preserve could attract people from across the country if done well.
Big Canoe resident and professional disc golf player Tommy Holbrook gives the proposed course in north Pickens two huge thumbs up.
“This is going to be an incredible benefit for the area,” said Holbrook, who has played the sport for three decades and has designed many courses including a 54-hole course in North Carolina.
“The game is something the entire family can enjoy, everyone from kids to seniors. It’s a great way to get outside, get some exercise and be in nature - and if you want to challenge your skill level you can do that, too,” he said.
News of the future disc golf course was made public two weeks ago when Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land, Inc. announced they had plans to develop a passive recreation park on 211 acres in Talking Rock. STPAL has established permanent conservation status for the land where they will support their mission of promoting “the quiet enjoyment of nature.”
Current plans call for half of the Talking Rock Nature Preserve to be used as a disc golf course and the other half as mountain biking/hiking trails with a bird habitat throughout.
If plans proceed, Holbrook said a disc golf course here would not only give locals a fun activity, but will draw disc golf players from surrounding areas as there are no other courses nearby.
“If you put in a good course, it’s going to bring people in from all over the country, no doubt - and the fact that this is [being discussed as] a 27-hole course is huge,” said Holbrook, a member of the Professional Disc Golf Association. “That’s an incredible destination. If disc golf players are travelling through, they will check out the maps online in the area they are at. If people come into town they will bring in money from tourism.”
The deed agreement prohibits construction of anything except park elements such as a pavilion, benches, and signage at the Talking Rock Nature Preserve - but Holbrook said the absence of amenities such as a restaurant or clubhouse should not impact the usage. He said it’s not uncommon for players to bring coolers and strollers converted into golf carts.
Holbrook pointed to the 54-hole course in Waynesville, N.C. he developed through their city’s parks and recreation department as a prime example of how disc golf can impact the community. After hosting a weekend disc golf event he pulled together a petition to construct a permanent course, which was completed in 2007.
“And now every time I go back they are busy,” he said. “It was a huge deal in Waynesville. No one there had ever seen it before, but disc golf is the fastest growing sport in the country and has been good for communities in every city they’re in.”
In addition to free or very low admission fees, Holbrook said disc golf can be played cheaply. Beginners only need one disc, which runs between $10 and $25.
Holbrook, who is willing to volunteer his time to develop the Talking Rock course, said he would like to see the community get behind the project. He said in Waynesville, for example, the Boy Scouts could earn badges for installing tee signs and benches on the course.
“Definitely try to incorporate the community,” he said. “The more people who are involved the better.”
Learn more about STPAL and the Talking Rock Nature Preserve at www.stpal.org.