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Disc golf, popular at McCormick Park in St. Helens, is free and open to all age groups.

COURTESY PHOTO: SEAN CHAPMAN - In disc golf a basket is used in pace of a hole on the green. If you envy the golfing life but find it incredibly expensive to invest in a new set of golf clubs and golf balls, consider an alternative that is as close as McCormick Park in St. Helens.

It's called disc golf. For the uninitiated, the game resembles traditional golf, but the only skill you'll need is the ability to aim a disc in the direction of a golf hole, or to be more precise, a basket.

A man who knows all about disc golf, Sean Chapman, who lives in St. Helens, described the fun alternative to hitting the traditional golf links.

"I fell in love with the sport, I would say, in 2010," Chapman said, noting disc golf at McCormick Park began in 2013 and is maintained by volunteers.

Chapman added, "We have work parties throughout the year and other people come in help us. We're at it year-round."

If you're unfamiliar with disc golf, Chapman helps explain.

"Disc golf is similar to traditional ball golf," he said. "You have a tee pad and tee zone. You throw the disc, or frisbee, into a basket."

Chapman said the sport is great for all skill levels and is not as expensive as ball golf. In fact, there is no charge to playing disc golf at McCormick Park.

"You have the first investment of buying a few discs," Chapman said.

Disc golf has exploded in popularity worldwide ever since COVID-19 hit.

"I've heard it's the fastest-growing sport in the world right now," Chapman said.

Chapman said it's typical that disc golf involves nine or 18 holes, as is the case for traditional golf.

Disc golf at McCormick Park weathered well during the thick of the pandemic. Golf lends itself well to social distancing.

"Disc golf was great during the pandemic because people can go out, you can do the social distancing, you get a little exercise," Chapman said. "By the time you have gone through the whole course, you have put a couple of miles in, so you're kind of tricking yourself into exercise, but you're having fun doing it."

Don't think you have to complete 18 holes. Disc golf is designed so you can play a few holes (baskets) and call it a day.

"You can stop whenever you want," Chapman said. "It's a free park, so if you get two holes in and you decide this isn't for me, you can turn around and walk to the car. You're not out any money."

Chapman continued, "But I promise you that's not the case. You play once and you're hooked."

All ages can enjoy disc golf, according to Chapman.

"If you're 100 years old and you still have it in you to walk the course and throw a disc, then more power to you," he said. "If you're healthy enough, go for it."

To locate the disc golf course at McCormick Park, at a corner of the parking lot, you'll find a pedestrian bridge that will take you to the first hole. A kiosk was recently installed at the location.

"You can't get lost at the kiosk," Chapman said. "You just follow the map."

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