Disc Golf Clubs and Associations
Disc golf is a precision flying disc game. Established in 1980, the disc golf course at Warriors’ Path State Park features 27 holes with a balance of open and wooded holes, elevation changes, and varying lengths.
The disc golf course is a very popular recreational facility at the park. The local disc golf association does a great job of maintaining the course and holds frequent competitions. The course is considered as one of the best in the state!
Contact the Park Office at 423.239.8531 for more information.
A Brief History of Disc Golf in the Tri-Cities
The beginnings of Disc Golf can be traced back to many locations. California, Virginia, and other areas of the country have recollections of students and Frisbee enthusiasts inventing a form of golf using flying discs. Some may have seen the directions stamped on the bottom of Wham-O Frisbees that read, “Flip flat, flies straight. Have fun, invent games”. Regardless of who was first or where they started playing, the game was beginning to develop a following.
Ed Headrick worked for Wham-O in the 1970’s and invented a catching device that he believed would legitimize the game and provide a standardized target for players. He called his creation the “Pole Hole” and set out to convince local parks in California to install Disc Golf courses. As more and more parks said yes, Ed decided to reach out farther with his idea.
In the late 1970’s, Headrick approached the Tennessee State Parks Department in the hopes that they would install courses in the state parks. Three parks said yes; Meeman-Shelby in Memphis, Cedars of Lebanon in Lebanon, and Warriors Path in Kingsport. After installation at Warriors, a group of local disc golfers decided to form a club and host tournaments. Lead by current Disc Golfer Magazine Photo Editor John Whinery, the Lakefront Disc Golf Club was formed. In 1985, the club hosted its first professionally sanctioned event, the Lakefront Open.
Since 1985, the Lakefront club has held hundreds of tournaments, from casual, monthly tourneys, to large pro events that draw players from all the surrounding states. In 2022, the Lakefront Open celebrated its 37th year, making it the longest running pro event in the state of Tennessee. Over those 37 years, disc golf locally has seen many changes and expansions.
In 1995, Winged Deer Park in Johnson City gave the club permission to build a 9-hole course there. Several years later, the course was expanded to 18. In the early 2000’s, an 18-hole beginner course was installed at Borden Park in Kingsport by the Rotary Club, designed by Billy Owens. A private course in Greene County was installed by Jerry Harmon on his property, known as Harmon Hills, which is a Top 100 course on UDisc, the leading disc golf app. Other local courses include Persimmon Ridge in Jonesborough, Tn. (18-holes), Steele Creek Park in Bristol, Tn. (18 holes), Laurel Run Park in Church Hill, TN. (9 holes), Sugar Hollow Park in Bristol, Va. (18 holes), also a UDisc Top 100 course, Coomes Center in Abingdon, Va (9 holes), and Mt Carmel City Park in Mt Carmel, Tn (9 holes).
Several local colleges and universities have installed courses as well. East Tennessee State University (9 holes), King University (9 holes), and Virginia Highlands Community College (9 holes with expansion to 18-holes in the planning stages) in Abingdon, Va, Milligan University (9 holes) all have courses on campus with Milligan offering Disc Golf as part of its sports teams, offering scholarships for disc golf as well. Milligan is the first college or university to offer scholarships to play disc golf for the school. Interested students should contact Tim Barr, coach, and program director, 423-367-7334.