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County's Distinct Disc Golf Course Poses Challenges

Purveyors of popular sport find unique mecca at Medard Conservation Park

They call themselves The Medard Crew.

These dozen or so avid disc golfers favor the 18-hole course at Edward Medard Conservation Park, although they sometimes play elsewhere.

What's so special about the Medard course? It poses distinct challenges with small hills, big trees, swampy ponds, and exposed roots that make it difficult to toss a plastic disc into the chain baskets on posts that serve as "holes."

Strawberries
A golfer tosses his disc toward a basket on the hilly course at Edward Medard Conservation Park. Photo provided by The Medard Disc Golf Club.

The discs are similar to Frisbees. They come in varying sizes and weights, for short and long tosses, much like the different clubs in a golf bag.

In fact, the increasingly popular sport is much like golf. The object of both is to complete each hole in the fewest possible strokes, or throws.

Mick Stich took up disc golf seven or eight years ago, and usually plays three times a week. He likes the exercise and camaraderie. Mostly, he likes the challenge. The Medard course offers plenty. "You've really got to know what you're doing out there, or else you're going to go through a lot of plastic (discs)," he says.

Medard Conservation Park is one of four disc golf courses in Hillsborough County parks. The others are at Limona, Buckhorn, and Town 'N Country parks.

The first eight holes of the Medard course are in fairly open areas, despite a dogleg or two. The next 10 holes are in hilly woods, and present more of a challenge. This area is not for novice players.

Experienced disc golfers, such as members of The Medard Crew - officially, The Medard Disc Golf Club - play on weekend mornings and weekday afternoons. They try to avoid crowds of fun-seeking children and others who roam the hills where the course winds among tree trunks and ponds.

Many park visitors aren't familiar with disc golf. Some think the chain-draped holes are animal feeders, of some type of exercise equipment.

In moderate weather, from fall through spring, about 100 people play the disc golf course on an average week. A recent drew upward of 300 participants.

Tristen Leto and his friend, Justin Nardello, were the only ones playing the course on a recent weekday afternoon. The Tampa residents are regulars at Medard Conservation Park.

"It isn't your normal Florida disc golf course," Tristen says. "It's like the coolest because of the woodlands, and how it goes up and down."

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