Sherwood Pines becomes the latest home to a sport growing in popularity across Britain

One of the area’s most well-known tourist attractions has become home to a sport which is growing in popularity across the country.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 3:19 pm

For visitors to Sherwood Pines have probably noticed in recent months the appearance of what looks like nine basketball nets dotted around the stunning woodland area.

They have been in place since December and are the Pines’ latest attraction – a nine-hole disc golf course.

So what is disc golf?

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Pictured, from left, William B. Woodward from Nottinghamshire Disc Golf Club, Rachel Malley-Smith, of Disc Golf UK, Ashley Booker, Ryan Laviolette, manager at Sherwood Pines, Richard Hatton, owner of Disc Golf UK and Zoe Winfield, chair Nottinghamshire Disc Golf Club.
Pictured, from left, William B. Woodward from Nottinghamshire Disc Golf Club, Rachel Malley-Smith, of Disc Golf UK, Ashley Booker, Ryan Laviolette, manager at Sherwood Pines, Richard Hatton, owner of Disc Golf UK and Zoe Winfield, chair Nottinghamshire Disc Golf Club.

Well, Chad’s Ashley Booker made the short drive to Sherwood Pines, nestled in leafy woodland just a stone’s throw away from Edwinstowe and the ‘home’ of legendary outlaw Robin Hood, to find out more about a sport already huge across the Atlantic in America and Canada and which could one day feature in the Olympics.

There he met with Richard Hatton, owner of Disc Golf UK, to learn about the sport’s origins and how it is growing in popularity across Britain.

Unfortunately for Ashley, he won’t be entering the Team GB selectors’ thoughts any time soon after trying his hand at the game – which sees players throw a frisbee-looking disc towards an elevated basket.

But for Richard, the sport is his passion and he revealed how he was ‘immediately hooked’ after swapping the traditional golf driver for a disc several years ago.

The nine-hole disc golf course Sherwood Pines.

"All the other sports I’d ever played fell by the wayside,” he said. “I became deeply involved with it because it’s something I find it so inspiring because everybody can play it – and you see lots of people who have played traditional sports come and play it and find a niche for themselves. It’s just you against the course and nobody else.

"It’s very relaxed and doesn’t have the same dress codes as a golf, so it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere.

"It just immediately appealed to me and I got involved in the national body and started trying to promote tournaments. I got frustrated with that so set up this company about six years ago now to try to get the sport out there more.”

Richard and his colleagues regularly visit schools to spread the word about the sport, which is played by primary school-age children right through to centenarians.

Chad editor Ashley Booker playing disc golf at Sherwood Pines.

"We’ve been going into schools in a big way. At the starter level it’s so inclusive – anyone can pick it up and play,” he said.

"The oldest person we’re aware of that plays it is over 100 – and they play around three times a week. At the younger level, five and six year olds can get out there and play it as well.

"It’s just an inclusive thing that people who haven’t engaged in sports before can find and get into.

"At professional level, it’s just an absolutely jaw-dropping sport. The thing that struck me was that somebody could throw a disc and hit a pole from 100 metres away. I was just standing there asking ‘how on earth do I do that?’.

Chad editor Ashley Booker receives advice from Richard Hatton, owner Disc Golf UK.

“It’s staggering – and at the top, top level they’re doing that from almost 200 metres away which is a mind-blowing distance when you see it.

"It seems quite impressive when we throw it, but the top players can throw it three times as far us.”

Sherwood Pines has become the latest course to open in the country and the first at a Forestry England location.

Just like traditional golf, the aim is to take the fewest shots – with players taking the next shot from where the disc has landed.

Ashley found the going tough at his first attempt at disc golf but, as Richard says, can see why the sport has become so addictive to folk.

"In this country the growth has been absolutely phenomenal in the last year,” said Richard. “It’s difficult to put a number on it exactly but we’re into the hundreds and thousands now playing.”

Chad editor Ashley Booker playing disc golf at Sherwood Pines.

But what about courses? Where is the closest to Sherwood Pines?

"There haven’t been many in this area,” said Richard. “We put a course in Markeaton Park in Derby a couple of years ago – but it’s been around hubs that it’s grown, so down in Warwick there’s one of the main courses in the country. There’s one in Bristol and there’s lots of other hubs around there and there’s a course in London.

"We had been in a bit of a black hole here, but now there’s one here it’s really great. It’s a really great little beginner course and it’s got people playing.

"We’ve just put in next to our warehouse in Clay Cross (near Chesterfield) – there’s a course there at Sharley Park, which was donated earlier this year – and we’ve got plans for it for elsewhere around the area.”

It is fair to say that disc golf is certainly an addictive sport to play and will certainly prove to be a popular addition to the wealth of attractions on offer at Sherwood Pines.

"Despite my inability to get to grips with the techniques of throwing the disc, I thoroughly enjoyed my first game if disc golf,” said Ashley. “It’s such a relaxing sport to play and set in the heart of Sherwood Pines, there’s no better place or setting to take up a new sport.

"I can thoroughly recommend it to anybody.”

If you are up for trying the game out, you can do so at Sherwood Pines by hiring out discs for £3 or £9 for four. Anyone who hires three discs, will get one for free.

For more information about the sport in this country, go to www.discgolfuk.com.

Alternatively, for details about disc golf at Sherwood Pines visit https://www.forestryengland.uk/sherwood-pines/disc-golf-sherwood-pines