2022: A look back at the club’s first 8 months

 

 

Not all goals for 2022 were accomplished, but that leaves ACDGC hungry for 2023

* Summer Flex League wrap-up
* Par 2 Invitational
* Youth Clinic coverage
* Craft Beverage Festival write-up
* Youth League finale
* Fall Doubles League results
* City approves Hoffman Park Ace Place
* Player of the Month selections
* 2023: A Look Ahead

By Kevin Spradlin
PDGA #239315

FROSTBURG — Honestly, I never wanted to start a new disc golf club. No longer able to run, I had just left the running community by giving up my flagship, and final, event — the Fire on the Mountain trail races in Green Ridge State Forest — in November 2020 after working in and serving the running community for the better part of two decades.

I was looking forward to a break. Looking forward to simply being a participant.

Besides, I’d only started playing disc golf on a regular basis in August 2021. In my mind, I was the least qualified person in the area to facilitate the start of a new disc golf club. In my mind, though, it became quite clear a second option was needed. Not a competing one. Not a conflicting one. But one that would work within the existing disc golf community.

This Google Maps image shows the boundaries of Hoffman Park in Frostburg.

On May 14, the Allegany County Disc Golf Club went public.

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the first calls made over those first few days would evolve into arguably the club’s largest accomplishment: I called Brian Vought, director of the City of Frostburg Parks and Recreation Department. He and I made arrangements to meet, and for an hour on May 18 spoke about a handful of disc golf-related possibilities, including a public disc golf course, and using local parks and facilities for pop-up clinics and other activities. He was completely supportive of everything, and offered ideas on how to make certain goals work. That led to a site visit at Hoffman Park with Keith Raynor and Jim Buser in June. Both longtime disc golf players suggested Hoffman Park could hold at least six, and possibly nine baskets. In July, Innova-affiliated Brad Lescalleet confirmed he could design an “ace place,” or pitch-and-putt, beginner-friendly course with nine baskets and potentially multiple tees per basket.

In November, the Parks and Recreation Commission gave its blessing to what will become the Hoffman Park Ace Place at Hoffman Park, and a month after that — just a few days earlier from now — the Frostburg Mayor and City Council approved not only the concept of a public disc golf course, but agreed to fully fund the original $8,500 estimate through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

On the course

Back in mid-May, though full of ideas, we needed to get the club on the course. And we needed to see if anyone would show up. The first event was Week 1 of a free-to-play Summer Flex League. The idea, modeled much like the 717 Flying Disc Club’s Summer Flex League in the Hagerstown area, allows players to play a designated course and layout pretty much on a player’s schedule within a certain timeframe.

And it all could have been a disaster. Only the participation of Scott and Colby Mallery kept it from being an all-Spradlin affair over the first couple days of Week 1. Five of the first seven players to complete a round that week had Spradlin in their name. Then Todd and Kaleb Logan played, and then Becky and Bill Shreve finished a round.

The Summer Flex League, and by extension the club, was suddenly official. So the planning continued.

The SFL finished with 31 players logging a total of 124 rounds of six extended weekends in June, July and August. A couple of stats that stand out: There was at least one player in each of the four divisions (Men’s, Women’s, Boys’ and Girls’), and three of the four divisions had a minimum of four players. Mile Lane proved to be the most popular course in terms of players (18 in Week 2, 16 in Week 4) and number of rounds (28 in Week 4). The Glades at Meshach Run at Deep Creek Lions Community Park, located near Accident in Garrett County, was a close second (15 players, 25 rounds).

Another key stat: Of the 29 players to complete a league round, at least 10 players — 34.5 percent — completed their first league round, of any disc golf league, anywhere. That stat aligned perfectly with the club’s mission of getting new people to throw plastic for the first time.

It was great competition, too. Scott Mallery edged Bill Shreve by a single point, coming back to win the Men’s Division on the final weekend. Becky Shreve (Women’s Division) and Josiah Spradlin (Boys’ Division) ran the table, each earning six weekly victories, while Karli Huff earned the Girls’ Division win.

The club had officially started.

AlleganyPlayground photo
Kalyi Kline, 14, celebrates after securing her best score of the day – a 3 – with a fantastic putt at the Par 2 Invitational in June in Cumberland.

Par 2 Invitational

A sign of things to come. Luke Spradlin-Vogelsang celebrated turning 9 with a disc golf-themed party. Along with pizza and cupcakes, he and his friends enjoyed a modified round of nine holes at Central. Each tee was no more than 125 feet from traditional nine baskets.

Seven players threw plastic for the first time. All seemed to have a lot of fun.

This event could foreshadow things to come: The club hopes to facilitate private events, including birthdays and corporate retreats or camp events, as a club fundraiser. For a reasonable fee, the club can fit any budget from $0 on up and make yours a special event.

The Glades at Meshach Run

Over the summer, the club contacted Chris from the Deep Creek Lake Lions Club about sponsoring a hole at The Glades at Meshach Run. The soon-to-be 18-hole course had a soft opening to its nine-hole course in May. Until Hoffman Park Ace Place opens up, The Glades remains the only public disc golf course in Maryland west of Hagerstown.

Upon inquiry, Chris said the basket closest geographically to Allegany County is No. 2. We chose that one to support. As it happens, it’s the hole that has received arguably the most attention. It’s a challenge, to be sure, but an achievable one.

The club organized the first league round of any kind at The Glades in Week 5 of its Summer Flex League – during which Caleb Campbell threw what remains to be believed as the only ace on the course (No. 4). Fall Doubles League incorporated The Glades into the course rotation, and Winter Doubles League begins at The Glades on Jan. 1.

Youth clinics

As the first couple weeks of SFL played out, the club scheduled two youth clinics. One in July, another in August. Thanks to Keith Raynor and Ethan Barney, the first one was a standout success. We had five participants — four kids and a dad — and each showed quite a bit of improvement in certain areas of putting and driving. Under the watchful eyes of Keith and Ethan, even Josiah Spradlin (who entered the day with the most experience among the participations) increased the distance on his drive in dramatic fashion. The first time around, before instruction, he threw drives of 220 and 235 feet. Both were backhand throws. After instruction, he tried again — and hit 300, then 310 feet.

Spradlin wasn’t the only one who improved on his driving distance. Arthur King’s best drive in the first round went 50 feet — 30 feet better than his first drive. In round two, King’s drives landed 103 and 110 feet from the tee.

The second clinic, scheduled for August, was under a very gray sky and a very real threat of rain. It held off, though, and I’m thankful for Noah Davis — who ended up being on my son’s soccer team — for showing up to play with Luke. The two (ages 8 and 9) enjoyed putting and driving. Both have played regularly since then.

AlleganyPlayground photo
Arthur King III tries a forehand while instructor Keith Raynor looks for flaws in mechanics.

Each participant took home a free Nomad putter.

Youth League

Noah and Luke formed the base of a successful five-week Youth League in September into early October. Those two, along with Baylen Langan, Chance Troutman and Lily Lick, had perfect attendance and received one MVP disc each. Lick was named the club’s September Player of the Month, as she was the only league player to improve on her average number of strokes per hole in four consecutive weeks. She received an MVP disc golf bag, an Envy putter, and a mini for her efforts.

The success of the league, and the apparent enjoyment of the kids involved, immediately put a possible Spring Youth League in mind for 2023. Stay tuned.

Craft Beverage Festival

The club has anticipated being a part of a handful of community events in and around Frostburg. For a variety of reasons, only one actually happened as planned.

In September, Noah and I put up a table, a basket and a target flag in center and right field of the softball field at Hoffman Park for five hours at the Western Maryland Craft Beverage Festival at Hoffman Park.

Mason Barrett, 9, of Frostburg, made two of three shots in the putting contest and won a free disc during the Allegany County Disc Golf Club’s demonstration in September at the Western Maryland Craft Beverage Festival at Hoffman Park in Frostburg.

While most people were there for the music, beer or both, dozens of people from age 6 to 50-something took their turn at trying to get at least two out of three putts from 8, 12 and 16 feet. Bryce Libertone, 30, of Wiley Ford, W.Va, won the closest-to-the-pin contest. After a few tries with a modified tee pad 63 feet from the target flag, his closest try was his last, and his disc landed only 50.25 inches from the flag.

A total of eight discs were awarded, including to Shelby Sanders, 21, of Frostburg; Mason Barrett, 9, of Frostburg; Penny Bogart, 12, of Frostburg; Amber Barr, 27, of LaVale, Bryan Smyth, 25, of Frostburg; and young Miles and Madison (last name unknown), of Cumberland.

This was one of the most fun events of the year. Unfortunately for us, the FSU Block Party was cancelled by the city. Also, our luck in finding a trailer for a float in either the Halloween or Storybook Holiday parades didn’t pan out. In the “Looking Ahead” article coming out next week, though, you can be sure community events will be a part of the club’s agenda.

Fall Doubles League

When the other disc golf group confirmed in the fall that their group would not duplicate their Fall/Winter Doubles League effort from the 2021-22 season, that opened the door for the Allegany County Disc Golf Club to run something.

While there have been a few changes — mostly separating the Fall Doubles League and Winter Doubles League into two events, and exchanging cash payouts for a chance at a free entry into the club’s Allegany County Doubles Championship tournament on March 4, 2023 — the low-key atmosphere remains the same.

And boy oh boy, was it fun! Bill Shreve held off Colby Mallery in the Advanced Division of the Fall Doubles League. I won the Rec Division while Noah Davis won the Youth Division. Twenty-seven different players completed 96 rounds of disc golf. About one-third of those players hailed from the Oakland area, and the field was happy to have them. A huge thanks to Matthew Marsh for helping to recruit his friends, and to the Campbell family to bringing, well, just about everybody with their last name (and if there are more, they are more than welcome, too).

Matthew Marsh, 20, of Oakland, helped bolster the quality and quantity of competition by recruiting nearly one-third of the field during Fall Doubles League.

Winter Doubles League begins Jan. 1 at The Glades at Meshach Run in Accident.

Player of the Month selections

From the outset, the club wanted a way to recognize a variety of ways people participate both within the club and in the local and area disc golf communities in general. The Player of the Month award was born, won first by Luke Spradlin-Vogelsang. While the 9-year-old is not close to the top-performing local players, he does seem to have a knack for the game and consistently plays in club events.

More important than that, though, Luke has the type of attitude that just about any card would be looking to add on any given day. He’s polite, he’s calm, he’s serious about his game (but not too serious), and he’s willing to help others whenever possible. He also looks for leadership roles as they develop.

The club has recognized the achievements of a variety of athletes since June: After Luke, there was Ethan Barney (July), Scott Mallery (August), Lily Lick (September) and Bill Shreve (October) and Colby Mallery (November). The December Player of the Month award will be announced on or about Jan. 2. While Fall Doubles League is finished for the year and Winter Doubles League doesn’t begin until Jan. 1, the club is still organizing official rounds on Dec. 27 (glow round at Mile Lane), Dec. 29 (2 p.m. start at Central) and on Dec. 31 (at Mile Lane, time TBD). Those three rounds can be considered for December honors.

After much consideration, the club will also name a Player of the Year winner. That announcement should come on or about Jan. 3.

Submitted photo
Lily Lick shows off her loot gained at the end-of-season awards with the Allegany County Disc Golf Club’s Youth League. Lily was named Player of the Month for September and all players shared sugar cookies with the ACDGC logo.

Play a round and you’re in: membership into the Allegany County Disc Golf Club is free. Then we do our best to divide players into divisions, and further, rank them.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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