By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
SOUTH DAYTONA - If the weekend out playing golf starts becoming mundane, there's a simple fix to make it more exciting - replace the ball and putter with a Frisbee disc.
That's what Port Orange resident Jeff Junior did - and it came with tremendous health benefits. He's lost over 100 pounds since he began playing disc golf at Reed Canal Park in May, combined with a smoothie diet he began in March.
"I'm at the fittest in my life since I was 30 years old," Mr. Junior, now 56, said about his weight loss.
Disc golf, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association, involves throwing a flying disc from a tee area to a target such as an elevated metal basket known as a "Pole Hole," with the object of the game being to throw the disc into the basket in the fewest throws possible.
In simpler terms, "It's more or less like golf, except you're throwing the Frisbee disc you used to throw on the beach as a kid," Mr. Junior said.
Participating in disc golf worked to tone every muscle in Mr. Junior's body except for his quadriceps, which he tones by jogging. Not only is it an effective toning exercise, but also it provides a good workout with a very low risk of injury, he said.
"I've seen people out there with leg and arm injuries (playing disc golf)," he said. "They use it to get their mobility back."
After reaping the health benefits of playing disc golf, he's aiming to expand participation of the sport in the area so others can experience the positive results he achieved. He plans to form a disc golf club for adults ages 45 and up with practice at Pickwick Village in Port Orange, where Mr. Junior resides, and competitive play at Reed Canal Park.
"What we've got so far is a signup sheet going around," he said.
Mr. Junior said he is working on having two metal baskets installed on the lawn in front of the clubhouse in Pickwick Village to show people how to play disc golf before they play competitively. A secretary who answered the phone at the Pickwick Village park office said the baskets have not been installed yet.
For now, Mr. Junior plays the sport recreationally at Reed Canal Park's mile-long course, where he plays with a group of people every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. Reed Canal is not the only hotspot for disc golfers in Volusia County; Tuscawilla Park in Daytona Beach is also well known for its disc golf course.
Mr. Junior isn't the only one who's experienced the benefits of playing disc golf firsthand.
On a recent afternoon at Reed Canal Park, a small group of friends said disc golf has aided in their weight loss and they value the camaraderie the sport provides.
Among them was Joseph Ledden of New Smyrna Beach, who plays on the course with his wife Kat. Mr. Ledden said people of all ages enjoy the sport, regardless of their ability or skill level. He said he's played with a 70-year-old visiting from out of the area and seen teenagers use the Reed Canal course.
"It's great exercise," he said. "(Also) we love the park and it's a great usage of the park."
He said he lost weight and feels healthier since he began including disc golf in his exercise routine about six months ago.
"Disc golf will save your life," Mr. Ledden said.
His wife added: "And it's fun."