Disc golf emerging as key outdoor recreation avenue as COVID-19 pandemic drags on

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on for almost a full year now, disc golf is making its way to the forefront in the Four Corners region as an extra avenue for outdoor recreation.

San Juan Basin Disc Golf Club president Jay Maas said more people are recognizing one can easily keep their distance in the sport while enjoying a healthy dose of competition.

“We’ve seen a lot of people just jump on that bandwagon and just the parks we have,” Maas said.

Maas said that increased involvement has been similar to those giving mountain biking a try.

The appeal kept growing well into the early weeks of 2021.

San Juan County tournaments like last month’s Ice Bowl brought in competitors from across the region, from Albuquerque to Gunnison, Colorado.

“We serve a large radius of players, and everyone’s just aching to come out and play competitively,” Maas said.

Maas said the early months of the pandemic made it more challenging to showcase disc golf because of tighter gathering rules and people being limited to essential travel only.

Once those restrictions were eased more, Maas said the organization was able to be more proactive and establish firm playing guidelines.

Even so, San Juan Basin Disc Golf Club has kept it to four or five people per group and remains strict about spreading out competitors between holes.

Maas said disc golf was one of those lesser-known sports prior to 2020, and he hopes the last year will be just the start toward seeing the sport become more relevant in the mainstream consciousness.

“In the past year, I would say that it’s grown so much, and it’s become a lot more mainstream. Before, it was definitely one of those unique sports,” Maas said. “Slowly but surely, it’s grown. And now we’re starting to see it pick up steam... Our area, we're hoping to grown into that Mecca of disc golf for the southwest United States.”

Graham Butcher of Gunnison, Colorado throws his disc down the driving lane on the second hole during the 2021 San Juan Basin Ice Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, at Tico Time River Resort north of Aztec.
Andrew Gentry of Albuquerque tosses his disc into the basket to complete the first hole during the 2021 San Juan Basin Ice Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, at Tico Time River Resort north of Aztec.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports and business for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, mhollinshead@daily-times.com and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e