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The Big Apple Gets Its First Disc Golf Course

The New York Disc Golf Association helped create the 10-hole course in Highland Park, on the border of Brooklyn and Queens.

New York City is a disc golf desert no more. Thanks to the New York City Disc Golf Association, the first disc golf course in the five boroughs opened on June 14 in Highland Park.

For those who are unfamiliar with the sport, think of golf, then substitute long irons and putters for frisbees and a basket, and you have an activity accessible and fun for everyone, regardless of age.

The 10-hole course, which spans a mile, has elevation changes and trees sprawled around, making it easy enough for people new to the sport and engaging for more seasoned players.

Students from P.S. 65 and I.S. 171 broke in the grounds with a disc golf clinic taught by professional disc golf player Missy Gannon, who demonstrated the rules of the sport and how to throw the disc. 

Kids at a disc golf clinic.
Students from P.S. 65 learning how to play disc golf. Photo: Shenal Tissera for BK Reader

People from all over the country came out to the unveiling of the city’s first official course, including Josh Lichti, co-founder of UDisc, a disc golf app, who brought several employees from California, South Carolina and Maine.

“We don’t usually go to course openings but this was just a special one that we couldn’t miss,” said Lichti.

Disc golfers can thank NYCDGA co-founders Alex Bender and Alex Hoyle and their serendipitous meeting in Prospect Park for the opening of the new course. 

Alex Bender and Alex Hoyle
Founders of the New York City Disc Golf Association, Alex Hoyle (L) and Alex Bender (R). Photo: Shenal Tissera for BK Reader

While riding his bike with friends through Prospect Park in February of last year, Bender spotted a group of people playing disc golf with a portable disc golf basket. He immediately bid his friends adieu and introduced himself to the group, which was organized by Hoyle.

The group, called the Brooklyn Disc Golf Club at the time, was having their weekly meetups in the park. It started as a Facebook group with only three or four people in July 2022. By the time Bender had found them, the group swelled to over 60 disc golf loving members.

Bender then forged inroads within the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the Paul McBeth Foundation, an organization dedicated to introducing disc golf to underserved locations. 

“We’ve been moving at lightspeed to be honest. When we met and had our initial conversation that day, we realized how aligned our mission was,” said Hoyle. “It’s crazy that we’ve made it to this point from where we started which was nothing. And here we are now.”

Alex Bender at the opening ceremony.
Co-founder of the New York City Disc Golf Association, Alex Bender, talking with a parks department employee. Photo: Shenal Tissera for BK Reader

The two co-founders said they were met with open arms by the community and the Parks Department, as they worked in tadem to get the necessary approvals and permits. 

Today, NYCDGA has 71 dues-paying club members with an actively engaged community of over 300 individuals. The group plans to establish disc golf courses in all five boroughs some day.

“Disc golf is inextricably tied to community. It in itself is a community. It’s a sport that’s just really good for bringing people together,” said Bender. “There’s a thriving group of individuals who meet one another and bond with one another through this sport.”