"We hosted the worlds here in 2010 and the feedback we got was that the facility is fantastic," said Jay Svitko, co-director of the tournament. "An hour and a half from an international airport we're lucky enough to have five championship courses at Lemon Lake alone. The competitors can drive, park and be done. Elsewhere you have courses spread out here and there. And here the courses are just miles away from two of the busiest intersections in Indiana and great restaurants, shopping and other activities."
For those not familiar with the sport, disc golf is like ball golf except your goal is to throw a flying disc into a metal basket in the fewest throws. Each hole begins from a tee, an area marked on the ground, which is typically about 175 to 500 feet away from the basket.
The metal basket is on a pole, about 3 feet above the ground, around which chains hang to help drop the disc into the basket. Similar to a golf course, water hazards, trees, rough and wind are all added challenges to the game.
A golf disc may seem similar to a Frisbee from a quick glance but when you look closer you see it is heavier and more flattened. Svitko said that there are 400 to 500 different designs engineered to make the disc fly further or even make specific turns when thrown by an experienced player. He said that the distance record is 836 feet, which is about the distance across Soldier Field and then to the far side of the Field Museum.
"The best players are amazing to watch," according to Svitko.
The action will be going on all week at the courses at Lemon Lake in Crown Point and Hidden Lake in Merrillville, beginning with practice rounds on Saturday. The action will culminate on Saturday, Aug. 10, with semi-finals beginning in the morning, playoffs of the top four players around noon, and the professional men and women playing at about 2 p.m.
Lemon Lake is located at 6322 W. 133rd Street in Crown Point. Spectator admission for the tournament is $4 per person.
After attending, come back another day to play a round or two, or try any of about a dozen courses around northwest Indiana.
In addition to Lemon Lake and Hidden Lake, courses include: Creek Ridge in Michigan City; Freedom Park in Lowell; Hawthorn Park in Porter; Purdue Calumet (near the armory); Purdue North Central; Pulaski Park in Hammond; and Rogers-Lakewood Park in Valparaiso.
Admission to some of the courses is free, while others charge a park gate admission fee or a course fee that goes towards course maintenance. The fee at Lemon Lake is $4 per player per day. Players must supply their own discs.
One bonus at Lemon Lake is the Flight Center pro shop that Svitko runs. Here you can buy discs, watch videos and get advice from him and experienced staff at the shop. He said that a three disc starter kit containing the golf equivalent of a driver, iron and putter costs $25, but individual used discs are also available starting at about $4.
"Disc golf is geared for players from age 8 to 80, for families, groups, individuals - and some courses are even wheelchair accessible. It's fun. It's good exercise. It's nice to hear families and groups giggle. But I've gotta tell you - it's easy to get hooked."