Flying through the trees, it’s a bird…it’s a Frisbee…? No, it’s a blue Thunderbird speed nine driver.
A new disc golf course, blazed through dense forest, recently opened for its first season in the southern Hancock County town of Penobscot. The Peninsula Links, a par-54 course featuring nine baskets, is located at 712 North Penobscot Road. Players pay on the honor system.
The 18-tee course unfolds behind Peninsula Links owner and disc golfer Mark Hundhammer’s house.
Jed Siebert has played Peninsula Links several times. The disc golfer, who works as a sail maker, at Center Harbor Sails in Brooklin, likes the course’s tight corners, using his airflow expertise on curve shots.
Siebert also says disc golf and the course’s proximity offers a good bonding activity with his son, Cosmos.
“We both love it a lot more than the bigger course (in another town),” he said.
Disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf or “frolf,” is a rising international sport, especially among low-budget college-age adults who prefer throwing plastic at metal baskets to whacking golf balls toward holes at considerably less expense when it comes to equipment and course fees.
Hundhammer, a licensed Maine Guide in sea kayaking and a product advisor at outdoor outfitter Cadillac Mountain Sports in Ellsworth, lives in Penobscot. Last year, he wondered out loud what to do with his backwoods when a friend jokingly suggested cutting a disc course and saving the time and expenses of driving to distant parks to play. He decided it was a good, albeit difficult, idea.
“You take the thickest possibly imaginable forest, and that’s what we started with,” Hundhammer said.
Work began early last summer. With friends’ help, the outdoorsman used mostly hand tools to clear 9 to 10 acres, processing the cleared debris with a wood chipper.
Cody Dyer was among those helping out. The Cadillac Mountain Sports service manager worked 10 hours the first day, running the chipper.
Two years ago, Dyer took up disc golf as a social activity, but got addicted. He owns 20 discs, each with its own specifications for speed, glide, fade and turn.
“I love playing with the guys,” he said. “There’s also days when I enjoy having a nice walk [alone] in the woods and throwing plastic.”
The Vermont native expects Peninsula Links’ multi-skill level course to draw novice and experienced players and offer them a different experience than the wide-open disc golf on the West Coast where the sport began.
“New England is going to develop its own disc golf style,” Dyer said.
The Peninsula Links course recently was expanded to three quarters of a mile through natural clearings and along an old logging road. It’s open enough for beginners, but certain standing trees pose a challenge for competitive players. So far, the best score is 51.
“People who are really going for it can overthrow and end up deep in the woods,” Hundhammer said.
At Peninsula Links, disc golfers come, play and pay admission on the honor system since Hundhammer often is guiding kayaking expeditions or engaged in other work. Revenue from admission fees enables him to recoup his $3,000 investment.