A sport anyone can enjoy

Minot Disc Golf provides another reason to get outside and be active

A group of disc golfers throw at a basket during the Polaris Park Tournament in June of 2017 at Polaris Park in Minot. Submitted photo

The Minot Disc Golf group is one that has been around longer than many realize, but has recently been revitalized and reorganized for the area. There have been flyers recent founder Vince Azzarello has found that date back to 1999.

Since then, disc golf in Minot has come and gone, but Azzarello took a special interest in joining a disc golf group almost three years ago. Seeing there were no active groups in Minot, he took it upon himself to recreate the disc golf brand.

“A friend of mine and I decided that we wanted to get it started back up again,” Azzarello said. “We didn’t know the most about disc golf but we went up to Polaris Park a lot and played a lot of disc golf.”

After deciding to start the group, Azzarello sent out a survey via social media asking about the satisfaction of disc golf in Minot, the condition of Polaris Park and how often people travel to play disc golf.

Once he received around 150 to 200 responses on the surveys, Azzarello decided that Minot Disc Golf needed to be official… again.

One of the main goals of the group was to get a new disc golf course in Minot. Once the surveys came back, Azzarello decided a league should be formed to go along with a new course. While the league is alive and well, things may not be so bright as far as a new course is concerned.

Polaris Park serves the group fine, and it has been for the past three years, but the problem is the holes. Right now, Polaris is only a 9-hole course, with regulation courses being 18-holes. The thought for the new course would be a sprawling 18-hole course good for tournament use in Minot.

The group has worked closely with the Minot Park District to map out a new course to be built near Maysa Arena, off of Burdick Expressway.

The site, however, is the site of a former landfill and has raised some concerns from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The EPA two years ago went and investigated the ground and did a study to see if we could dig into that site,” Azzarello explained. As of March 17 of this year, the Minot Disc Golf group as well as the Minot Park District have yet to hear back from the EPA.

Azzarello credited Ron Merritt and Jarrod Olson of the Minot Park District for their hard work trying to make the new disc golf course a reality. It’s something Azzarello says the park district and the city itself is looking forward to.

In the meantime, the city and the park district have been working to fix up Polaris Park for the disc golfers to use for now.

“We have brand new baskets now that were just put in last year and so there is construction going on there to improve that course,” Azzarello said. “But what we really need is a new course.”

Disc golf in Minot is something that has been steadily growing over the past few years.

“The first year, we had between five and 10 people show up. The next year, we had 15 to 20,” Azzarello said.

Currently, on a weekly basis, once it’s nice enough to be outside for prolonged periods of time, the Minot Disc Golf league can see anywhere from 20 to 30 people show up to play. Right now the group hosts about two tournaments a year, drawing fellow disc golfers from Devils Lake, Bismarck, and Rugby. These tournaments are more to promote the sport, while there are other, more serious tournaments across the state.

“I can see that it’s growing,” Azzarello said. “I can see there’s a lot of interest in building a new course.”

In western North Dakota alone, Azzarello says there are about 30 courses from Devils Lake west, with the newest additions coming from Rugby and Burlington in the past two years.

“The great thing about North Dakotans is, anything that will get them outside during the warm months, they’re out there,” Azzarello said.

Disc golf being a nice, casual sport is one that can draw a wide variety of people together. Of course, the sport can be taken seriously or can be used as an excuse to take a walk with a few stops here and there to throw a disc.

The disc golfers in Minot are an “eclectic” group according to Azzarello. The sport is for kids, teens and adults alike and a wide variety of people can be seen out on the course in Minot on any given day.

One misconception about disc golf is that they are Frisbees, which is almost an insult to the sport itself. The discs come in three different styles: a driver, a mid-range and a putter. Depending on where you are at in the hole determines which disc to use. Normally, you will begin with the driver, switch the mid-range and use the putter to make it in the basket for the hole.

From there, the rules of disc golf are very similar to golf, just throwing discs instead of hitting balls. Every hole the disc golfer starts at the tee and throws until they make it into the basket. Each hole has it par, or the number of throws it would take a regular disc golfer to make the basket.

Starting out, Azzarello recommends having at least a driver and a putter, but many places sell a “beginners” three-set pack to get started.

On a normal league night, many of the regular disc golfers are open to sharing their discs with first time golfers so they can get a feel for the sport.

Disc golf is something people shouldn’t be intimidated by and can be a sport that anyone can enjoy. For more information about disc golf in Minot, visit Minot Disc Golf on Facebook to learn more and stay up-to-date on the latest disc golf activity and league nights.