Each Sunday morning during the winter, a dozen or so men meet up at Blue Heron Park in Franklin or Grassy Creek Park in New Whiteland, sporting several layers of clothing and carrying their golf bags.
In lieu of golf clubs, these bags are loaded up with flying discs of various weights and shapes — often 30 or more of them.
The two games are similar. Disc golf is scored just like regular golf, with a par score between 3 and 5 for each hole, and players work their way from concrete tee pad to the “hole,” a metal basket on a pole, through hazards, trees and other obstacles.
The main difference, aside from the equipment used, is the length of the holes. Disc golf holes usually range anywhere from 125 feet for short par-3s up to 500 feet for longer par-5s.
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Disc golf enthusiasts in Johnson County and all around the state take their game every bit as seriously as golfers do theirs.
And this year, Franklin was selected as the site of a tournament for leagues around the state.
The Crossroads Disc Golf Club, based in Terre Haute, has a winter tournament series each year called the Western Indiana Frozen Fundraiser Series — WIFFS for short — in an effort to help food pantries around the state restock after the busy holiday season. The group selects different sites annually to host series events, and this year the Johnson County Disc Golf Club was chosen.
The March 4 event at Blue Heron Park will benefit the Interchurch Food Pantry in Franklin.
Justin Maxey, who heads up the Johnson County Disc Club, said the pantry was selected because the group thought it was important to keep donations local, where they could directly impact those in the county who need assistance. The Franklin-based pantry is also unique because they take more than non-perishable goods, he said.
The first four WIFFS events raised a total of $4,152 plus food, with the Jan. 28 tournament in Lafayette yielding $1,350 in cash donations. The Franklin tournament is the eighth of 11 on the schedule for 2017.
Maxey expects the spots for the Blue Heron tournament to fill up well before the day of the event, as they have for other WIFFS events. Each tournament has 72 registration slots, enough to put a foursome on each hole for a shotgun start.
“It’s not a high-turnout tournament,” Maxey said. “It’s just kind of cabin fever thing — everybody’s cramped up in the house and can’t get out, and so we bring everybody out to have a good time and help a local charity.”
The field is expected to include players from a wide range of skill levels. Some people who have never played disc golf before turn out, lured in by the low entry costs and a desire to help out a good local cause.
Others are coming from all over Indiana trying to bolster their position in the WIFFS points standings. Dale Sapp, another Johnson County player, was second in the overall rankings through the first four events in the series.
The Western Indiana Frozen Fundraiser Series disc golf tournament series will be making a stop in Franklin. Players of all ages and skill levels are welcome.
Where: Blue Heron Park, Driftwood Court, Franklin
When: March 4. Registration and sign-in from 8 to 9:15 a.m., players meeting at 9:30 a.m., first round of play begins at 10 a.m.
Entry fees: $35 for open men or open women divisions, $25 for recreational, intermediate, advanced, advanced master or advanced grandmaster. There will be cash prizes in open divisions and trophies for all other divisions.
Online registration: www.discgolfscene.com
All proceeds will benefit the Interchurch Food Pantry in Franklin. Additional donations of cash and food will be welcomed.