Northeast Times

At Fairmount Park's Sedgley Woods, disc golf rules

On the fringe of Fair­mount Park, al­most every day, you’ll find a grow­ing throng of “golfers” on what is said to be the na­tion’s second old­est course.

No, not on the nearby driv­ing range at 33rd and Ox­ford streets in Brew­erytown, though that is pop­u­lar, too.

It’s at the Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course, with 27 holes that weave their way through Fair­mount Park.

The sport is something of a rar­ity, per­haps, but here, the game where play­ers arch plastic discs to­wards met­al trap bas­kets — the holes — is prov­ing to be a pop­u­lar past time for all types of play­ers, be­gin­ner to am­a­teur, old and young alike.

In place since 1977, play­er at­tend­ance at the course is grow­ing stead­ily, and ac­cord­ing to mem­bers of the Friends of Sedgley Woods — a vo­lun­teer group of disc golfers who clean and main­tain the course on a reg­u­lar basis — the pop­ular­ity of Sedgley Woods shows no sign of slow­ing down.

“We are even look­ing for more land be­cause it’s so pop­u­lar,” said John A. Di Scias­cio, a mem­ber of the friends group who has been play­ing disc golf for more than 20 years.

“In the past year, I’ve seen more new play­ers out here than I prob­ably have in my en­tire life,” he con­tin­ued.

“On week­ends, for­get it,” agreed fel­low friends mem­ber and play­er Madis­on Rast.

Asked if per­haps the new Tron film – where the di­git­al char­ac­ters en­gage in com­pet­i­tion us­ing Fris­bee-like memory discs — propag­ated an in­terest in the Fris­bee-based sport, the men laughed.

“I think it’s be­cause it’s cheap, there are no fees,” said Rast. “We get such a di­verse crowd; there are a lot of great people out here.”

The in­cep­tion of what would be­come Sedgley Woods began in 1977 when Fair­mount Park hos­ted the “Phil­adelphia Fris­bee Cham­pi­on­ships,” a multi-event tour­na­ment. For the tour­na­ment, the or­gan­izers set up a tem­por­ary 18-hole golf course for Fris­bee throw­ers.

The event was well at­ten­ded and im­pressed Wham-O, makers of the Fris­bee disc, enough that they donated 18 of the steel and chain “holes” used for disc golf to the mem­bers of the loc­al Fris­bee club.

They found room for the course near Smith Play­ground on the grounds of what was once Sedgley Man­sion, and the course was born.

But, the ori­gins of the friends group began years later when, in 1991, a num­ber of the steel trap-like holes were stolen by van­dals.

“They were worth­less, they wer­en’t worth any­thing. But, that was the cata­lyst to form the Friends of Sedgley (Woods),” said Di Scias­cio.

After that, ded­ic­ated play­ers got to­geth­er and re­placed the steel bas­kets.

They cleaned and greened the course to cre­ate what Di Scias­cio said is a course that al­lows play­ers to “com­mune with nature.”

It proved pop­u­lar, and to handle the play­er growth, the group worked with the city five years ago to add an ad­di­tion­al nine holes to the Sedgley Woods course.

“It was all a vines and weeds. It was a mess,” said Di Scias­cio about the area of Fair­mount Park where vo­lun­teer mem­bers of the friends group forged new areas for the new holes.

“We were able to ex­tend [the course] with the city’s bless­ing,” he said.

Now, with more play­ers at the course every week­end, the friends group is po­ten­tially look­ing for new areas to ex­pand. If pos­sible, Di Scias­cio said, the group would like to have 36 holes in total, enough for two full courses.

“We are look­ing for land be­cause it’s so pop­u­lar,” said Rast.

So, giv­en the pop­ular­ity here at Sedgley Woods, what’s the draw?

The men couldn’t say for sure, but they both said the group of­fers out­reach pro­grams to area youth groups and they each said they had dif­fer­ent reas­ons why they have long loved the sport.

“I just love watch­ing a disc fly. When you throw one right, there’s just noth­ing bet­ter,” said a grin­ning Rast. “And, out here, you don’t feel like you’re in the city at all.”

Di Scias­cio said he loved the vari­ety of play­ers that des­cend on the course for a round of disc golf, and he likes how it’s a game for all ages.

“We en­cour­age a fam­ily at­mo­sphere,” he said, not­ing that disc golf play­ers can be any­thing from “vag­a­bonds to rock­et sci­ent­ists.”

Bey­ond be­ing free, they also noted that get­ting in­volved doesn’t re­quire ex­pens­ive equip­ment.

While the spe­cial disks used for the game can be pur­chased from friends mem­bers, they’re not needed to have some fun.

“You can just show up with a Fris­bee, of course,” said Di Scias­cio.

The course also has a pos­it­ive im­pact on Fair­mount Park be­cause Sedgley Woods mem­bers do more than simply tend to the course.

They also clean lit­ter they find in the area and last year, the group planted 40 new trees in the park.

“We want to hon­or the tre­mend­ous value of the land here,” said Di Scias­cio.

Along with open play on the course, the Friends of Sedgley Woods also of­fer a vari­ety of leagues for be­gin­ners and know­ledge­able play­ers as well as reg­u­lar tour­na­ments.

The group is launch­ing a new league for wo­men, to be­gin this week­end, with league games at 2:30 p.m. every Sunday.

For more in­form­a­tion about the course or to learn about how to sign up for a league, vis­it the Friends of Sedgley Woods web­site at www.Sedgley­Woods.org.

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com

st1\:*{be­ha­vi­or:url(#ieooui) } [en­dif] [if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><!/* Style Defin­i­tions */ table.MsoN­or­malT­able {mso-style-name:"Table Nor­mal"; mso-tstyle-row­band-size:0; mso-tstyle-col­band-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-par­ent:""; mso-pad­ding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-mar­gin:0in; mso-para-mar­gin-bot­tom:.0001pt; mso-pa­gin­a­tion:wid­ow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-fam­ily:"Times New Ro­man"; mso-an­si-lan­guage:#0400; mso-fareast-lan­guage:#0400; mso-bidi-lan­guage:#0400;} > <![en­dif] ></p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">On the fringe of Fair­mount Park, al­most every day, you’ll find a grow­ing throng of “golfers” on what is said to be the na­tion’s second old­est course.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">No, not on the nearby driv­ing range at 33<sup>rd</sup> and Ox­ford streets in Brew­erytown, though that is pop­u­lar, too.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">It’s at the Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course, with 27 holes that weave their way through Fair­mount Park.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">The sport is something of a rar­ity, per­haps, but here, the game where play­ers arch plastic discs to­wards met­al trap bas­kets — the holes — is prov­ing to be a pop­u­lar past time for all types of play­ers, be­gin­ner to am­a­teur, old and young alike.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">In place since 1977, play­er at­tend­ance at the course is grow­ing stead­ily, and ac­cord­ing to mem­bers of the Friends of Sedgley Woods — a vo­lun­teer group of disc golfers who clean and main­tain the course on a reg­u­lar basis — the pop­ular­ity of Sedgley Woods shows no sign of slow­ing down.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“We are even look­ing for more land be­cause it’s so pop­u­lar,” said John A. Di Scias­cio, a mem­ber of the friends group who has been play­ing disc golf for more than 20 years.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“In the past year, I’ve seen more new play­ers out here than I prob­ably have in my en­tire life,” he con­tin­ued.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“On week­ends, for­get it,” agreed fel­low friends mem­ber and play­er Madis­on Rast.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">Asked if per­haps the new <em>Tron</em> film – where the di­git­al char­ac­ters en­gage in com­pet­i­tion us­ing Fris­bee-like memory discs — propag­ated an in­terest in the Fris­bee-based sport, the men laughed.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“I think it’s be­cause it’s cheap, there are no fees,” said Rast. “We get such a di­verse crowd; there are a lot of great people out here.”</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">The in­cep­tion of what would be­come Sedgley Woods began in 1977 when Fair­mount Park hos­ted the “Phil­adelphia Fris­bee Cham­pi­on­ships,” a multi-event tour­na­ment. For the tour­na­ment, the or­gan­izers set up a tem­por­ary 18-hole golf course for Fris­bee throw­ers.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">The event was well at­ten­ded and im­pressed Wham-O, makers of the Fris­bee disc, enough that they donated 18 of the steel and chain “holes” used for disc golf to the mem­bers of the loc­al Fris­bee club.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">They found room for the course near Smith Play­ground on the grounds of what was once Sedgley Man­sion, and the course was born.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">But, the ori­gins of the friends group began years later when, in 1991, a num­ber of the steel trap-like holes were stolen by van­dals.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“They were worth­less, they wer­en’t worth any­thing. But, that was the cata­lyst to form the Friends of Sedgley (Woods),” said Di Scias­cio.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">After that, ded­ic­ated play­ers got to­geth­er and re­placed the steel bas­kets.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">They cleaned and greened the course to cre­ate what Di Scias­cio said is a course that al­lows play­ers to “com­mune with nature.”</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">It proved pop­u­lar, and to handle the play­er growth, the group worked with the city five years ago to add an ad­di­tion­al nine holes to the Sedgley Woods course.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“It was all a vines and weeds. It was a mess,” said Di Scias­cio about the area of Fair­mount Park where vo­lun­teer mem­bers of the friends group forged new areas for the new holes.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“We were able to ex­tend [the course] with the city’s bless­ing,” he said.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">Now, with more play­ers at the course every week­end, the friends group is po­ten­tially look­ing for new areas to ex­pand. If pos­sible, Di Scias­cio said, the group would like to have 36 holes in total, enough for two full courses.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“We are look­ing for land be­cause it’s so pop­u­lar,” said Rast.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">So, giv­en the pop­ular­ity here at Sedgley Woods, what’s the draw?</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">The men couldn’t say for sure, but they both said the group of­fers out­reach pro­grams to area youth groups and they each said they had dif­fer­ent reas­ons why they have long loved the sport.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“I just love watch­ing a disc fly. When you throw one right, there’s just noth­ing bet­ter,” said a grin­ning Rast. “And, out here, you don’t feel like you’re in the city at all.”</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">Di Scias­cio said he loved the vari­ety of play­ers that des­cend on the course for a round of disc golf, and he likes how it’s a game for all ages.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“We en­cour­age a fam­ily at­mo­sphere,” he said, not­ing that disc golf play­ers can be any­thing from “vag­a­bonds to rock­et sci­ent­ists.”</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">Bey­ond be­ing free, they also noted that get­ting in­volved doesn’t re­quire ex­pens­ive equip­ment.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type"><span> lt;/span>While the spe­cial disks used for the game can be pur­chased from friends mem­bers, they’re not needed to have some fun.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“You can just show up with a Fris­bee, of course,” said Di Scias­cio.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">The course also has a pos­it­ive im­pact on Fair­mount Park be­cause Sedgley Woods mem­bers do more than simply tend to the course.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">They also clean lit­ter they find in the area and last year, the group planted 40 new trees in the park.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">“We want to hon­or the tre­mend­ous value of the land here,” said Di Scias­cio.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">Along with open play on the course, the Friends of Sedgley Woods also of­fer a vari­ety of leagues for be­gin­ners and know­ledge­able play­ers as well as reg­u­lar tour­na­ments.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">The group is launch­ing a new league for wo­men, to be­gin this week­end, with league games at 2:30 p.m. every Sunday.</p> <p class="bask­ervil­le­bo­dy­type">For more in­form­a­tion about the course or to learn about how to sign up for a league, vis­it the Friends of Sedgley Woods web­site at www.Sedgley­Woods.org.</p> <div style="bor­der-right: me­di­um none; pad­ding: 0in; mar­gin-left: 0in; mar­gin-right: 255pt; bor­der: 1pt me­di­um me­di­um sol­id none none win­dow­text -moz-use-text-col­or -moz-use-text-col­or;" _m­ce_­style="bor­der-right: me­di­um none; pad­ding: 0in; mar­gin-left: 0in; mar­gin-right: 255pt; bor­der: 1pt me­di­um me­di­um sol­id none none win­dow­text -moz-use-text-col­or -moz-use-text-col­or;"> <p class="trail­er">Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or <a href="mailto:hmit­man@bsmphilly.com" _m­ce_href="mailto:hmit­man@bsmphilly.com"><strong>hmit­man@bsmphilly.com</strong></a></p> </div> <p class="tex­tin­put"><strong> lt;/strong><

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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