Laura Trach and her parents, Jane and Jim Trach, played a few holes of disc golf at Abbey Gardens’ new course last week.

While tossing the discs, and walking from tee to green – which in this case is a metal basket – Jean said their neighbours in Ottawa introduced them to the sport in October. They live on two acres and created their own little course and played all winter long. “For us, it’s a perfect cold weather exercise,” Jane said.

It provided plenty of walking, Jim added, and was easy to social distance during COVID.

Jane added that for her it was also something to do during endless lockdowns and stay-at-home orders when they weren’t socializing with anybody. She said it had also helped her fitness. When she began playing, she couldn’t reach her hands to the ground due to bad hips and arthritis but now she can bend over to pick up a disc.

“It’s fantastic,” added Laura, who is new to the sport.

Abbey Gardens is launching its new Innova Disc Golf course on Canada Day, Thursday, July 1. It’s located in the former gravel pit on the site.

It’s a partnership between Innova Disc Golf course designer and business development for Canada’s Darrel Bankes and the West Guilford establishment.

There’s been a disc golf course in Head Lake Park for years, so this is the second course of its kind in the County.

Bankes said the sport is “absolutely booming” and garnered a recent full-page spread in The Globe and Mail.

He said he was in the Highlands last fall on his way to a course in Huntsville when he ran into Thom Lambert.

“And he instantly dragged me over here to Abbey Gardens to meet the folks. So, then over the winter, we’ve been working on a partnership agreement … to install this course in a way that allows us to take on the responsibility of building, designing and installing the course,” he said.

Because it is a pay-to-play course, it will generate revenue for Abbey Gardens’ programming.

They will be offering day passes and season passes for the course, which functions just like a golf course with different aesthetics and activities. It is a full 18-hole course with a short and long layout. It begins in the former gravel pit and then goes into the forest. The course is 6,000 feet in length.

Board member Brenda Smith said Bankes met with Heather Reid, who brought the idea to the board. They in turn met with Innova Disc Golf and toured a course, “and we thought it would be fantastic to use the pit for something physical.”

Abbey Gardens director of operations, Ashley McAllister, said there’s been a huge interest already, even prior to opening. For the kick-off event, they are partnering with Haliburton Highlands Brewing and the Food Hub so visitors can experience the site.

Adult day passes will be $10 for the day, and children $5 including one disc. It is dog-friendly on-leash. The course can also be used for hiking. It will be a four-season offering. People can book at the hub or online.

“For us, it’s a great fundraising opportunity and it’s a great way to do something at this time [during a pandemic],” McAllister said. She added it’s allowing access to parts of the property they haven’t used before.

“We don’t really have something like this up here, especially the course that Darrell’s designed, so for people to come for a hike, explore the property, get outside, have that safe social distancing and try a new sport.”

See more on the Abbey Gardens website, abbeygardens.ca or at innovadiscs.com

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