Disc golf comes to the area

Raptor’s Roost Disc Golf opened in July at the former Shenandoah Crossing Golf Club, providing a new sport for people to play, even during the pandemic.

In fact, John Biscoe, the club’s disc golf manager, thinks that COVID-19 will provide “one of the biggest boosts in participation” that the sport has ever seen.

“People have had their outdoor activities curtailed to such a huge degree that they’re looking for something to do,” he said. “We’re outdoors, we don’t really have any shared equipment in the games so it lends itself to social distancing quite well.”

Biscoe has been involved with the sport for 25 years, both as a player and as a disc golf course designer. Since 1997, he’s designed and installed approximately 30 courses in Virginia and West Virginia, including the nine-hole disc golf course at the Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center. He also designed the courses at Raptor’s Roost.

The club offers two 18-hole courses, nicknamed Talon and Wing. Wing is the more “beginner-friendly” of the two, according to Biscoe, but both offer competitive play. There’s also a smaller nine-hole course that Biscoe describes as “disc golf putt-putt” and a driving range.

“The courses here are designed to be high-end competitive courses, but still be accessible to inexperienced players,” Biscoe said.

Disc golf was invented in Canada in the early 1900s, but the modern iteration of the game began in the United States in the 1960s. In the decades since, it’s spread around the globe to approximately 40 countries. In the nearly three decades that Biscoe has been involved with disc golf, he’s seen the number of courses in Virginia grow almost tenfold.

“There are very few places in Virginia where you don’t have access [to a course] within a reasonable drive,” he said.

The game, as the name implies, follows a similar structure to traditional golf, with nine- or 18-hole courses. Players start at tee areas and throw their discs toward a metal basket at the far end of the fairway, trying to make it in a certain number of throws and playing from where their disc lands.

There are also different styles of discs that offer different types of flight, similar to how golf players use different types of clubs. Driver discs are smaller with sharper edges, allowing for more distance flights, while putters are designed for shorter distances, but give the player more control of where the disc goes.

One of the biggest draws for disc golf over traditional golf is that the former has what Biscoe refers to as “low barriers” to entry. Disc golf is generally cheaper and less time-consuming that traditional golf, and requires less equipment to play. The game is also something that can be played casually or competitively, creating a sport that Biscoe describes as “very receptive and open to everyone.”

Biscoe and club owner David Snow have “big ambitions” for the future of Raptor’s Roost in the coming years. They hope to add golf carts for people to drive around in and to add a bar and grill to their clubhouse. 

“I think, long term, that this will turn into one of the premier venues for competitive disc golf in the Mid-Atlantic,” Biscoe said. “There’s not really anywhere that offers the combination of high-quality courses we have here and the clubhouse amenities.”

For more information or to book a tee time, visit Raptor’s Roost’s website at raptorsroostdiscgolf.com.

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