LOCAL SPORTS: ‘This is the greatest group of people you’ll ever meet in your life’: Cullman Disc Golf Club continues to grow

Cullman Disc Golf Club President Heath Harden tees off at this weekend’s tournament at Heritage Park. (Sammy Confer/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. — Cullman’s Disc Golf Club has been going on for several years now and hosted another successful tournament this weekend. Heath Harden, the president of the Disc Golf Club, talked more about it, how much the attendance has grown over the years and how cool its been to get more women and kids involved.

“The club have been going on for several years now. The three years that I’ve been doing this, the sport has grown tremendously. It’s pretty common to have 40 or 50 people in each one of our leagues on Sundays. When I first started playing, we were lucky to draw 20 people. The sport is growing. It’s growing quickly,” Harden said. “We need to find a way to reach more women. We’re starting to have kids join our league. We have three kids that show up pretty much every Sunday and three women. I love to slowly see women and kids join the league. One of our kids, Braxton Coggins, has beaten some of the men out here.”

Heath is so happy to see this club get started and loves every minute of it. He also talked about the preparation that goes into running a league and its tournaments.

“I love it. I love every minute of it. We try to throw five, six tournaments a year at the local courses: Cullman, Wallace, Fairview, and Vinemont. We try to have a tournament at each one of those courses. We’ll try to do three tournaments at Heritage Park,” Harden said. “There is a lot of coordination that goes into running leagues. Tyler Stephens does a great job running our leagues, him and Tim Baxter. Playing in a tournament, it takes a lot of time to order player packs and get U-Discs set up. The day of the tournament or the day before, we spend our time cleaning up the park and moving baskets. The day of the tournament it’s from 6 a.m. until dark, so there’s a lot of preparation that goes into running a tournament and a league. It’s never ending when you’re maintenance, always picking up sticks and trying to keep the forest clean.”

Heath talked about the attendance that came to play disc golf when it first got started. He’s hopeful that this club will continue to grow in the years to come.

“Disc golf wasn’t really well-known until three, four years ago. There were people that played it, but the tournament and competitiveness aspect of it really didn’t start taking off until three or four years ago,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me. If it keeps growing like it has, it wouldn’t surprise me in the next two years that we have 75 people at league days every Sunday. I’m very hopeful. This is the greatest group of people you’ll ever meet in your life. We’re all like family and that’s what makes disc golf so fun. You meet people every time you go to a new town or somewhere to play in a tournament, you meet tons of new people and make friendships that last forever. That’s the best part of the game. You always want to win but being able to come out here on Sunday evenings and spend time with all of these people, that’s what it’s all about. It’s friendships that will never go away. I can see myself playing disc golf until the day I die. As long as these people continue to play, they’ll always be a huge part of my life.”

Braxton Coggins, a fourth grader, talks about his experience playing in the club so far, what he’s learned so far, and gave a little bit of advice to those kids that would like to join this club.

“I started playing disc golf at around four, five years old. I’m really happy that I started doing that at a young age. I like it. It’s fun. I’ve learned how to putt good and throw a forehand. I’m really good at forehand because it’s kind of like hitting in baseball. I also try to practice my backhand. I saw someone trying to turbo-putt and I’ve started doing that. I’ve gotten really good at it now,” Coggins said. “I’m really happy to see them start this league. I like when people try to join and help spread it around. It makes people have more fun. I get to meet more kids my age and play with them, and also have fun playing disc golf. I’m happy and thankful. My advice to them is if they’re not good at something, like putting, I would teach them how to putt. Be loud and just have fun.”

Sarah Grace Jordan has had an amazing experience playing in the club so far and is also happy to see her family get to enjoy this experience as well.

“I’ve been playing disc golf for about eight years ago. I love Cullman Disc Club. They were very accepting when I first started. I had a bag of about five or six discs and every time I’d come, one of them would have another disc for me to try out. They were very accepting, and they are very friendship oriented. I bring my kid and the one that’s due in October. For me and my husband, this was an awesome bonding place for us, like a good little family outing to be able to do,” Jordan said. “I absolutely love it. My daughter is almost two and everyone out here is super nice to her. They all play with her and entertain her when I’m up to shoot. It’s just great. It really is. It’s a great family outing and a great capability to do this as a family.”

Sarah talks a little bit about how it first got started and is happy to get to play alongside some great people. She can’t wait to see this club continue to grow more and more and is proud to even see more kids and women join the club as well.

“It first got started as a singles league and they came out here and fixed up the course to get this league started. It’s always been a really close-knit family with them. It started as a group community and it’s grown since then,” Jordan said. “It makes the experience so much better. It makes it so fun to come out here and goof around and having a good time. Even when you’re having a terrible round, you can still laugh and have a great time.”

She added,

“I know it will. I am hopeful, yes, but as much improvement and growth as it’s accrued over the past few years, the women showing up, different levels of difficulty within the course, and all the courses in Cullman are just growing exponentially. I believe that it’s just going to continue to grow. I love it. One of our buddies, Chris Coggins, his son comes out and plays, and he is awesome. He’s an awesome little disc golfer and he has really picked up the sport. I know for a fact that my daughter, when she gets to be his age, will get to play. There are a few kids that come out here quite often and play with us. It’s always so much fun to help them, see their improvement, and it’s awesome. I think more and more women will become interested to play.”

Sarah has learned so much since joining the club and gave some advice to those people that are wanting to join as well.

“I’ve learned different putting stances, different drives and different techniques. The community really helped me when I first got started. They just continue to help me and watch my shot. They’ll tell me if my step’s wrong or something along those lines,” she said. “You can join the Cullman Disc Club Facebook page. We always post random rounds that we’re playing at. The league information’s on there. There’s the Vinemont Disc Golf Club as well.”

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