“(Disc golf) is a new concept to me,” said Principal Barry Harris of Garrett Middle School, who added playing the sport will be a good way for kids to pass the summer hours.
“We will get the word out that (the course) is here for constructive activities,” Harris said.
The Frog Rock disc golf course has nine holes, with plans to add the remaining nine holes as the park is further developed over the next year, said Jim Graham, the community affairs director.
Graham said they expect 500 to 1,000 weekly players to crisscross the 50 acres of park landscape dotted by large trees.
A group from the Atlanta Disc Golf Organization, who have been playing together for more than 15 years, already had tested the new site last week before the official ceremony began.
Mike Dammes, from Paulding County, said he visits courses seven to eight times a month and Frog Rock was “nicely laid out and plays very well.”
“Course is beautiful. Great piece of property,” said Dammes, who predicted Austell’s course will be very popular.
John Ritger, who designed the Frog Rock course, said anyone can play, from young kids to senior citizens, because it is a low impact sport.
The objective of disc golf is to throw a disc at a target that is yards away and surrounded by natural obstacles.
The first tee of the Frog Rock course is located near an existing trail that winds around the middle holes.
Each hole is a par 3 and includes two concrete tee pads for the beginner and more advanced golfer, said Ritger, who demonstrated the first stroke.
The first couple of holes are straightaways, but the fourth gives a couple of options to navigate a bend in the field.
Ritger said a player throws a driver that is thin and aerodynamic to move closer, then uses a putter that is fatter and allows for more control.
The disc then hits a group of chains and rattles down into a metal basket 3 feet off the ground.
Ritger said that unlike “ball golf,” disc golf has a low cost with no green fees or high investment in equipment.
“You don’t have a dress code, you just come out and play,” Ritger said while speaking to the crowd that included many young men in baseball hats, with T-shirts and long shorts.
The new club
As a late afternoon storm began to thunder in the distance, attendees were invited to ride in golf carts to tour the course.
The Austell course is named after a rock sculpture of a frog that sits at the entrance to the park near a fountain and putting green honoring the area’s history.
At the opening ceremony, Beverly Boyd, a former councilwoman who grew up in Austell, spoke about how the land used to house the Lithia Springs Golf Course from 1932 to 1975.
At the time, the property was managed by Johnny Suggs. The park was named after his granddaughter, Louise Suggs, who won the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament in 1949 with a current record of 14 strokes.
Portions of the land were sold for shopping development, but in 2002 the city purchased the remaining 50 acres to develop the park.
The project was first proposed at the Austell City Council meeting in May 2012, when Scott Thomas, chairman of the parks committee, said the new space could not be built with funds from Cobb County SPLOST.
A unanimous vote by the council authorized using $8,000 from the Austell Area Community Improvement Fund to develop the course.
A map at a display table showed the proposed phase two that includes smaller connecting trails with a raised boardwalk over a wetland area, as well as a longer parking lot.
Graham said the completion of those sections and the rest of the disc golf course is dependent on grants and donations, including sponsorships opportunities.
The Frog Rock course is only the second disc golf course in Cobb County, following Oregon Park on Hamilton Road in west Cobb.
However, the state of Georgia has a rich history in the sport as the Professional Disc Golf Association and the Disc Golf Hall of Fame are located in Appling.