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Flying saucers coming to Patrick

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Manatee Cove Golf Course is scheduled to host a free disc golf exhibition/clinic Dec. 16, 10 a.m. - noon. Ron Russell, 1999 World PDGA Disc Golf Champion, will be providing the expertise and available to sign discs.

In the last 60 years a new sport has evolved from its humble beginnings. In 1947 a small plastic disc sailed out of the tiny workshop of Fred Morrison and Warren Franscioni. For several years, the "Flying Saucer" - named after the UFO excitement at Roswell, N.M., struggled for acceptance. In 1955, they caught the eye of one of the founders of the Wham-O Corporation. Within two years, the discs -- renamed the "Pluto Platter" -- were in stores across the country.

As the years rolled by, Ultimate Frisbee took college campuses by storm. The new game, using the "Professional Frisbee," was a combination of football and soccer. The game is frequently played at Patrick and the Cape. In 1975, Ed Headrick invented the "Disc Pole Hole," It was a metal basket on a pole that caught Frisbees. The new sport of "disc golf" was born.

In the last 30 years, the game has grown quickly and steadily. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, there are now m ore than 2,100 disc golf courses across the country, with 42 registered courses in Florida, including an 18-hole course at Wickham Park in Melbourne, another at Burton Park on 520 in Cocoa, and a new one scheduled to open soon in Malabar.

What's so special about this sport? Most of the courses are free to play. You can play with only one "disc" (although eventually you may want a driver, mid-range, and a putter). It can be played by any age group. It provides health benefits in five areas-muscle development, flexibility, aerobic fitness, endurance and mental challenge; You can play by yourself, with others, or on teams. It provides you with simple, fun entertainment in the great outdoors. Call 494-2660 to sign up.