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Golf Minus the Clubs

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Hey, Camp People!

An unexpected camp activity that’s history is shrouded in a bit of mystery is the alternative to golf called Frisbee or Disc Golf, also known as ‘Frolf’ to some. Learn how this very unofficial sport gained its popularity and officiality. How did the age-old sport of golf lead to an alternative that replaced the clubs and small, dimpled ball with a flying disc and the holes with chained baskets?

For several decades, forms of Disc Golf were played with whatever makeshift equipment folks had around—tossing the tin lids onto the tops of garbage cans. Canadian kids in the 1920’s called this Tin Lid Golf. But it only started developing an official backing when a summer camp counselor named George Sappenfield got the idea for a ‘camp’ version of golf that the kids could play.

As forms of this game were randomly found being played throughout the early 1900s, the game’s stricter parallel to golf rules seems to have suddenly started sprouting in many places, by many people independently. For instance, Rice University students in Texas started tournaments aiming discs at trees for targets.

It was the summer of 1965 when George Sappenfield found himself on a golf course during his college break before heading off to be a counselor at camp. The idea suddenly came to him that the kids at camp could play a version of golf with a flying disc aimed at designated targets.

The invention of the plastic flying disc was marketed as the now well-known name Frisbee by the Wham-o Manufacturing Company and was gaining popularity. George hatched the idea to contact Wham-o Manufacturing to suggest the creation of a Frisbee Golf Contest. This would lead to some of the first mentions of the sport Disc Golf and Mr. Sappenfield solidified himself as one of the earliest coordinators of Disc Golf who spread its popularity across the West Coast.

Enjoy playing Disc Golf during your summer camp experience if your camp offers it! And if they don’t—just bring your own Frisbee Disc and shoot at whatever targets you decide upon like they did in the old days! As always, thanks for reading!


- John


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