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Discover Disc Golf

Are you looking for something different to do outdoors? All you need is a flying disc to get started with the fun and growing sport of disc golf. You can improvise your own “course” at home or in any open space, but there is a free, 18-hole disc golf course available year-round at Knoch Knolls Park in Naperville. 

About the Course
The disc golf course at Knoch Knolls Park originally opened in 2000 as a 9-hole course and concrete tee pads were added in 2006.  With growing interest in the sport, Naperville Park District expanded the course to 18 holes, which opened in 2015. The course is located just west of Knoch Knolls Nature Center, at 320 Knoch Knolls Road, with parking, restrooms, access to the DuPage River Trail and beautiful views of open fields and woodlands along the West Branch of the DuPage River. 
 
Download the course map here.  For a quick overview of the game, see Disc Golf 101.

I asked two staff members at Naperville Park District who play regularly at Knoch Knolls to share their stories of how they discovered disc golf and also to give us some tips about how to get started with this fun game.

Getting started with disc golf
John Teper, operations manager for the South Parks Maintenance Division, played a home-grown version of disc golf in his neighborhood as a child, then as a teen, went with a friend to play at a disc golf course at a park, and has been playing ever since. Spencer Huard, creative services manager, just started playing in spring 2020, with encouragement from John. 

Spencer: “It was John who told me about the sport and how fun it was and got me out to the Knoch Knolls course. I eventually purchased a starter set of three discs and went out and played. I was hooked right from the start. 

Not long after my 11-year-old son started becoming interested in playing. So we went down to our local park and just practiced throwing. Eventually we went out to Knoch Knolls and he loved it. I gave him the starter set of discs and bought another set for myself. 

The highlight of last year was playing in John's charity disc golf tournament. I played with my son, my brother-in-law and two co-workers. We had so much fun. We were all rookies to the sport and really had a great time working on our skills and enjoying nature.”
 
What equipment do you need?
John:  “A player would only need one disc to play.” (This is an option if you just want to go out to the course to try it once or twice.) 
“However, I would recommend that new players start with a driver and putter. Drivers are used for longer distance throws.  Putters are used at closer distances and have more accuracy. 

A lot of disc manufacturers offer starter sets. These are relatively inexpensive and usually have a driver, mid-range, and putter. This is a fantastic option for someone looking to begin playing the sport.”

Spencer: “I bought a starter set from Amazon.com for about $25.” (There also are discs for sale at local sporting goods stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods or online at otbdiscs.com or infinitediscs.com.)

John: “As a player progresses they will inevitably want to upgrade their equipment and/or collect more discs. The disc options are almost endless; there are many different reasons a player would purchase a new disc: different blends of plastic, different flight patterns, the way a disc feels in their hand, the weight of the disc, the color of the disc, “stamp” design, different molds and different manufacturers or to have backups of their favorite disc.”

How does a player typically progress in the sport?
Spencer: “Practice, practice, practice. It really helped me to play with people who are better (like John) and ask a bunch of questions. It also helps to see the different types of shots they throw and the way they approach different holes. The seemingly obvious path to the basket might not always be the best approach.”

John:  “The casual player will own their own discs and start to play somewhat frequently. They will progress by playing often, acquiring more discs, and starting to travel to other courses. They may even start to use a phone app to track their rounds. 

The very casual player will own a disc or two (or even just borrow one from a friend) and play a few times a year. No real progression in this case, they will just go out occasionally and have fun! 

A serious player will have a bag (or cart) of discs. They play frequently. They are often members of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), join leagues, play in tournaments, and track their rounds using a phone app.” 

What do you most enjoy about playing disc golf?
Spencer: “Oh man, everything! It's free, outdoors, easy to understand, almost always open, anyone can play regardless of skill, and it’s simple and extremely challenging at the same time. The vibe is really good. Everyone I have met on the course is very friendly and will let you play through if you are faster. I think that is part of the allure of the sport. If you have a bad round, just play again or play that hole again. There are no time limits or strict rules.”

John:  “It’s difficult to pinpoint what I enjoy most about playing. I like being outdoors, it’s inexpensive, there is a great culture and it’s not incredibly time consuming (compared to ball golf). Anyone can play and there is less structure than in other sports: for example, there is no tee time needed, rules can be looser, and you don’t have to keep score if you don’t want to. In addition, the equipment is fun to collect, it’s great exercise, and it’s intertwined with nature. I really like that a player can make it as serious or relaxed as they want.”

Are there organized competitions in the area?
John: “Definitely! This is one of the fastest growing sports. The PDGA sanctioned tournaments in the Chicagoland area fill up in minutes. It is often difficult to sign up for tournaments. There are leagues in the area almost every night of the week. These leagues have different formats: some travel to different courses, some stay at the same course, some are serious, some are just for fun and some are doubles. The possibilities are endless. At the elite level, there is the Disc Golf Pro Tour. These players are the best of the best. Coverage of these tournaments can be found online and recently on major TV networks

Knoch Knolls hosted a charity disc golf tournament in 2020. This event was a non-PDGA event aimed to bring the community together for a great cause. This charity disc golf event was designed for players of all skill levels. Players signed up for the division that fit their skill level. This event was a huge success and raised $7,900 for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. This event is planned to run again in 2021; the date has not yet been determined. For updates, visit discgolfscene.com

What improvements are planned for the course at Knoch Knolls this year?
John: “The Park District has ordered new baskets with custom-made wraps that display the hole number and course name. The new baskets will replace the existing baskets in the same locations. For some holes, we will re-use the existing basket in an alternate location to create A and B pin locations for those holes. This offers a new option for players who frequently visit Knock Knolls and want to change it up a little.

Due to high demand, the new baskets will be delivered as the manufacture has them in stock. Once we have received the baskets we will start to install them and will close parts of the course during installation.”

For updates on the improvements, check www.napervilleparks.org/knochknolls.  


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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
 
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To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
 
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Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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