- Visit North Central
Disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf, is an increasingly popular outdoor activity that can be enjoyed in any season by people of all ages. Like traditional golf, the object is to reach a target, in this case a chain basket, in as few attempts as possible, using a scoring system of pars, birdies, and bogeys. Most players use heavy rubber discs (available at sporting goods stores and local retailers) that, with a bit of practice, can be thrown long distances, while others simply use traditional Frisbees. Fairways generally vary in length from 150 to 700 feet, though most are around 300 to 400 feet.
The Johnny Appleseed Region is home to a handful of well-maintained courses, each of which has its own character and challenges. All are free (donations accepted) and open to the public year-round.
A Former Fort
The Devens course includes 18 baskets on a rocky, forested hill on the grounds of the former Camp Devens military base. Most of the holes have elevation gains, as much as 70 to 90 feet on some fairways, and some have rock piles along the fairways or around the baskets. It is well-marked with signs that include facts about the military reservation’s history. The fairway lengths vary, from several short holes of less than 200 feet to the longest at 410 feet. Access is free, though donations are requested every few rounds to assist with costs.
From Route 2 take Exit 37 and follow Jackson Road for 2.6 miles, then turn right on Antietam Street and continue 0.2 miles to a small parking area on the left.
A Walk in the Park
One of the region’s newest courses opened at Coggshall Park in Fitchburg in 2009. It is also a forested course with some elevation gains, particularly in the upper 10 baskets. Originally nine baskets, the course has been expanded to 18. Work to improve this new course, including new baskets, is ongoing. From Route 2, take exit 30 and drive north on South Street for approximately 0.8 miles to the park’s South Street entrance. The first tee is roughly 75 feet from the entrance, on the left.
Through the Woods
The shores of scenic Tully Lake in Royalston are home to a 18-basket course that winds through the woods adjacent to the Tully Lake flood control dam and spillway.
The course, which opened in 2003 and has been regularly upgraded and improved, is part of a recreation area managed by the Army Corps of Engineers that includes hiking, mountain bike, and paddling trails, a seasonal campground, and boat ramps. Fairway distances are mostly intermediate to long, and much of the course is in the woods, requiring players to weave throws between the trees. From Route 2, take Exit 17; follow Route 32 to the dam on the Athol-Royalston town line.
In contrast to the others, the course at Barre Falls Dam has many open fairways, as a number of the holes cross or follow the edge of fields near the flood-control dam on the Ware River. There are also a handful of more technical holes with combinations of trees, openings, and elevation change. The fairway lengths range from 158 feet to a long par-5 of nearly 700 feet; the open ones are good for beginners learning how to throw for distance. There are scenic views across the meadows of the river valley. The park entrance is on Route 62 in Hubbardston, just east of the Barre town line.
—Contributed by John S. Burk