The trees stood still - the sun's rays bouncing off of them as frisbees soared between them toward their glistening silver target with hopes of crashing into its chains.
A number of Islanders had made the pilgrimage out to Hillcrest Farm Disc Golf course that May afternoon. Some were trying their hand at the sport - which is similar to golf but with discs in place of balls - while some were more versed at propelling their discs so to curve around trees and avoid ricochetting off of them.
The experienced players all recognized Jacob Smith.
"Have any discs with ya?" one devoted disc hucker asked.
Smith, owner of Island Disc Golf Company, hadn't brought any to sell as he was just about to huck a few discs himself. But he directed the patron to check out the online catalogue and assured him that he'd be ordering new inventory soon.
"You'll definitely be able to find something on there, for sure," Smith said.
He hadn't planned to re-stock until later this summer, but P.E.I.'s disc golf scene has grown and the demand has increased since starting the business in May 2019, he said.
"I feel like I've kinda become the hub for the sport in general," he said. "And that is obviously my goal."
DID YOU KNOW?
- There are currently about 300 to 400 consistent disc golf players on P.E.I., according to Island Disc Golf's Jacob Smith.
- Across the Maritimes there are about 900 to 1,000 consistent players. There were only two disc golf courses in the Maritimes in 2014 - now there are about 24.
- The region has the fastest growing disc golf scene in North America in terms of player membership and course growth. It's also currently home to the third-best disc golf course in the world - Hillcrest Farm Disc Golf in Bonshaw, P.E.I., according to UDisc ratings.
- Disc golf is very accessible because it's a low-impact physical activity and it's easy for all ages to pick up, Smith said.
Smith only got into the sport just a few years before through his involvement with Go P.E.I. He organized an event for people to try it out, which prompted him to start looking into where it could be played.
"It blew my mind when I learned we had Canada's number one disc course right here on the Island," he said, speaking of Hillcrest. "I very quickly fell in love with it because it brought together the things I love to do."
Some of those things include being competitive and being in nature. He soon saw the business potential in being the Island's resource for all things disc golf, which includes selling the gear needed to get into it - discs, a bag to hold them in, and a basket to toss 'em into.
"That's really all you need," he said.
AT A GLANCE
Islander Matt Coe first started playing disc golf when he lived in Vancouver, B.C.
"I got bit by the bug, man."
When he road-tripped across Canada to move back to the Island he and his partner stopped at disc golf courses along the way. One difference between P.E.I.'s courses is that they're more out of the way - in Vancouver, there were many courses set up in public parks.
A downside to this is that players had to be careful they didn't accidentally hit standard park-goers with their discs. But if a course is designed with this issue in mind, it can be an easy way to have more disc golf courses, Coe said.
The baskets aren't necessary to own since there are five courses across P.E.I. - and possibly more to come - that have plenty. But they can be useful for those looking to hone their huck, he said.
"A lot of people will set them in the basement in the winter and practice putting."
Smith is also working to help grow the disc golf scene by pitching the potential of setting up more courses to landowners, namely in Kings and Prince County. He's also a part of the Disc Golf P.E.I. association, which plans to continue holding monthly tournaments once COVID-19 health measures allow for it, he said.
Island Disc Golf currently operates out of Smith's home in Charlottetown, but he hopes to one day set up a storefront or perhaps a mobile shop. The sport is great for people who like to enjoy the outdoors with friends, strive for their personal best, and have fun for a cheap price, he said.
"It's easy to get better at - it's challenging to master."
Daniel Brown is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95
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