BERLIN – The Berlin Parks Commission this week endorsed a plan to bring disc golf to Stephen Decatur Park.
The commission on Tuesday voted to support a proposal from local resident Austin Widdowson to set up a disc golf course at Stephen Decatur Park.
“Parks are for everyone,” commission member Laura Stearns said. “This seems like a sport anyone can do.”
Widdowson and Shawn Johnson, a professional disc golf player, approached the parks commission Tuesday seeking support for a plan to install disc golf equipment at Stephen Decatur Park. Widdowson said he’d met with Mayor Zack Tyndall and also visited Heron Park, the Northern Worcester Athletic Complex and Stephen Decatur Park before deciding on the latter as the ideal location. He envisions two disc golf courses at the park.
“When we got to the park we realized the majority of the outer rim of the park is not being utilized,” Widdowson said. “We’re trying to fill those places in.”
He added that the project wouldn’t cost the town anything, as he planned to donate the equipment, which essentially consists of elevated baskets that serve as targets for the discs—similar to Frisbees—players throw. Widdowson pointed out that none of the infrastructure was truly permanent.
“This will allow us to ebb and flow with the process,” he said.
Signage could be used to advise other park visitors that disc golf was being played in certain areas. He said Schumaker Park in Salisbury had multiple disc golf courses.
“We’re very used to working in parks where there’s a lot of activity happening,” he said.
Johnson agreed and said the sport had grown in popularity since the onset of the pandemic.
“Since COVID this has been an activity most people agree is safe,” he said, pointing out that players were socially distanced.
When asked what exactly disc golf was, Widdowson said players started at a tee that consisted of a square of pavers and then threw discs at elevated baskets three or four feet off the ground.
“You basically in the least amount of throws try to get a Frisbee into a basket,” he said, adding that baskets could be installed along the borders of the park and would hardly be noticed by those who weren’t playing.
While commission members expressed a few concerns, including the need for replacement equipment if anything was damaged and the possibility of people getting hit with Frisbees, they voted unanimously to support the proposal. Widdowson plans to bring the project to the town council as soon as possible and hopes to begin setting up the course this summer.