Grab a disc and get to Flaxmere

Get the gear: Mayor Lawrence Yule dishes out discs to kids about to have a go.
Shot: Flaxmere school students were among the first to try out the new disc golf course on Flaxmere Park.
How to: Disc golf aficionado Ryan Kitto gives students some pointers before they tackle the nine hole course.

Anyone can play disc golf: It is low impact and suitable for all shapes, sizes and ages, says a man who is passionate about the sport.

But be warned, Ryan Kitto says, “It’s very addictive”.

Mr Kitto drove up from his Woodville home on Wednesday (May 10) for the opening of Hawke’s Bay’s first disc golf course on Flaxmere Park.

He joined a raft of school students who grabbed their Frisbees and took up the challenge – the aim to get the discs into the nine chained ‘baskets’ around the one kilometre course; just like golf.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule was joined by councillors Henare O’Keefe, Rod Heaps and Simon Nixon, to officially open the course. He had a go, but announced that he “was not very good at it”.

Mr Kitto told the assembled children and the mayor that practice made perfect. “If you want to be good, practice every day.”

While he would not confirm his standing, not wanting to “blow my own trumpet”, others at the opening said Mr Kitto had placed in the top couple of dozen disc golf players in the country. He was rapt to see a course in Hawke’s Bay.

Disc golf course is yet another new element to go in at Flaxmere Park, joining an up-to-the-minute playground, splash pad, ki-o-rahi field, and walks under beautiful mature trees ranged over its 16.8 hectares. Its contoured grounds and trees act as obstacles, making for the perfect disc golf course.

The rules of the game are few and can be found on a board at the start of the course. They do include the safety message: ‘Never throw if there is a chance someone may get hit. Either wait for people to move or play that hole later. If there is even a small chance your disc may hit someone, call out a warning to attract their attention.’ Etiquette demands that slower moving groups allow faster groups or singles to pass them on the course.

Playing disc golf is inexpensive with just a Frisbee required – available from major chain stores or sports shops. If players move up into the competitive realm the range of discs becomes much greater. Kitto has 25 discs of varying sizes and weights in his go-bag, from putters to drivers.

Hastings District Council is building up activities across all its parks, with different aims at each one. Frimley Park is set up as a Magical Park, a technology game for children which sees them race around the park hunting ‘kittens’ on their devices, and there is a range of play equipment particularly suitable for the disabled; at Havelock North there is a one-of-a-kind engineering-styled water play feature and a racing game up ‘firemen’s poles’.

“All our parks are for everyone in our community,” said Mr Yule. “If you like the idea of disc golf, head to Flaxmere Park, if you have a child that will get a kick out of climbing 4.75 metres up a fireman’s pole head to Havelock North. For a country experience, take a trip to Puketapu Park and check out the tandem flying fox.”

For information on disc golf, including the meanings of common disc jargon, see: www.discgolf.co.nz and www.newzealanddiscgolf.org.nz