“It’s just like pitching a Frisbee,” laughed Santiago Perez, 7, taking his first tosses at Miami-Dade’s newest leisure sport — Disc Golf.
Joining the Kendale Elementary student at Terra Environmental Research Institute on a bright Saturday in May were Samantha Diaz, 15, Terra sophomore, along with her younger brother, Michael.
Terra students and their siblings were among more than 50 school-age youth trying out golf without golf clubs, practicing a Frisbee-like toss of round plastic disks at an open metal basket. Those are Disc Golf targets that replace teeing off fairway-to-green to sink a ball in a tiny cup.
While their classmates crowded nearby soccer and baseball fields, Terra students attended a special clinic to sample the sport on a basketball court, thanks to teachers Monica Meija and Angela Holbrook who George Alvarez said, “were my champions to help demonstrate the fun of Disc Golf.” They were assisted by fellow Disc Golfer John “Wing” Brandedee.
Another demonstration at the South Miami Farmer’s Market on May 28 began a morning series the Disc Golfers will continue.
Alvarez, 44, once a college baseball pitcher, recently organized the Miami Disc Golf Association to help popularize the sport he loves to play weekends at Kendall’s Indian Hammocks Park, one of only two courses countywide. (More than 70 exist in Florida.)
Playing the course is free at the county park. All that’s needed is a plastic disk and a practiced eye for getting the right spin on it, Alvarez advised.
“We’re currently setting up Disc Golf as a summer-long activity,” said Alvarez, who is working with county staff to expand courses beyond Indian Hammocks and Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah.
As time allows, Alvarez teaches the game at Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop meetings and school demonstrations, hoping to kindle an enthusiasm that eventually could see inter-troop competitions.
With Terra located adjacent to the 18- hole Indian Hammocks layout that winds beneath the cooling shade of palms and live oaks, Alvarez foresees a “home course” for the new Kendall school now completing its second year of introducing a brand-new curricula of technology and environmental academics.
Enjoying Disc Golf has a singular side benefit, Alvarez said, noting “once kids begin playing, they will also start to clean and protect our county parks, and become more open with nature.”
To that end, Alvarez and his golfing pals regularly schedule clean-up sessions, walking the Indian Hammocks course to remove and haul away trash, debris and fallen fronds, working with Kendall area’s Girl Scout Service Unit 14 and BSA Troop 1027.
For information on clinics and Disk Golf events, contact Alvarez by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.