Photos Courtesy of Foundation Disc Golf
Hunter Thomas discovered disc golf the summer after he graduated high school. He was bored and looking for something to do, so his brother took him out on a disc golf course. Thomas never looked back.
Thomas now runs Foundation Disc Golf, a store for both beginner and expert disc golfers.
Founded in 2019, Foundation Disc Golf began as an online store and a place for disc golfers to buy discs, apparel, and accessories, and they quickly expanded to brick-and-mortar retail store located in Forest. A large part of the store’s growth was due to Foundation Disc Golf’s online content.
“Our focus was to create content to drive traffic at the online store to help people learn about disc golf or learn different ways to get better. The content side took off in a way we never expected it to, to where the business got a lot bigger than expected,” Thomas said.
Foundation Disc Golf has five podcasts and regularly posts videos on their two YouTube channels. Disc golfers of any skill level can learn from the videos and podcast episodes. The content ranges from discussing pro disc golfers to the Foundation Disc Golf team out on the course trying out discs.
There is more to Foundation Disc Golf than podcasts and selling discs. They want to see the disc golf community flourish through engagement with residents and clubs in the area.
“There are local clubs in Lynchburg and Bedford, and Liberty University has a club team. We’re involved in all three in different ways. We just try to help support what they’re doing locally as much as we can,” Thomas said.
In 2019, Foundation Disc Golf started a tournament in Bedford with the help of the local club and Bedford Parks and Recreation. It has become one of the biggest disc golf tournaments in Virginia. The tournament and the great courses in the area have caught the eye of many.
“Bedford Parks and Rec saw how much disc golf had taken off. They built one of the best courses in the country and several of the best courses in the state, which have also become a big tourist attraction for disc golfers all over the country,” Thomas explained.
The popularity of disc golf in the Lynchburg/Bedford region soared during COVID. With lockdowns in place, many people turned to parks and outdoor activities. As Thomas put it,
“What ended up happening was so many people were looking
for something to do to get out of the house. So many people found disc golf during that time and that happened here as well.”
Disc golf has maintained that momentum because of its accessibility and affordability. Like golf, the goal of disc golf is to get the disc from the tee pad to the basket in as few throws as possible. Unlike golf, disc golf does not require a lot of equipment or money. All that’s needed to start is one disc that costs around $10 and a park with a course.
Thomas suggests that people looking to get into disc golf go to Peaks View Park in Lynchburg. Most of the holes are under 200 feet, so it is an ideal beginner course. Starting out on the wrong course or using the wrong disc can make the sport more challenging than it should be.
“The best way to get started would be to come to Foundation Disc Golf, where we have a used section of discs. You can get a disc for as cheap as $5. We have staff that make sure you won’t buy a disc that is going to make the sport frustrating,” Thomas said.
Along with its accessibility and affordability, disc golf is a very inclusive sport. There is no age limit or specific physical requirements.
“If you can walk and you can move your arm, you can play disc golf essentially. Pretty much anyone can play. I’ve taken out people in their upper 60s and I’ve taken out 5-year-olds. And everyone has fun,” Thomas said.
Hiking or walking is a great activity, but disc golf takes it to a whole new level.
“It gives you something to focus on, and you don’t realize how much you just walked. It’s a good thing for cardio and just the benefits of being outside. For me personally, it’s been a huge stress relief.”
Through disc golf, Thomas has met some of his best friends. He’s met people from all different walks of life, but they all share one thing in common, the love of disc golf.
“People are just super excited to meet, talk with you, and teach you the game. It’s something that we all love, so we just want other people to love it too.”