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A disc golf course on Belle Isle?

Modern disc golf began as a 1960's fad, but the sport (modeled on golf, players aim frisbees into baskets) is now played in 40 countries, with 11,000 registered members and hoards of weekend and afternoon enthusiasts.

Woodbridge resident Chris Haag hopes to build a disc golf course near the lighthouse on Belle Isle. He's confident he can raise the money (it costs about $3,000 to build a basic course, though some designs run as high as $10,000). Now, he just needs to get the attention of park officials.

To do that, Haag and partner Joe Robinson are hosting a public disc golf tournament on Nov. 6 at Belle Isle, improvising a makeshift course of 18 to 24 holes over about 20 acres. The goal -- show city leaders that Detroit is full of disc golf enthusiasts who would utilize a proper course (a small nine-hole city course at Jayne/Lasky Park near Davison and Conant is an unimaginative course designed primarily for beginners). Registration is $40 and includes a frisbee or t-shirt. All proceeds will help offset the cost of building a course on Belle Isle. "If we have a good showing on that day, being able to show them that there's a lot of people who want to do this, I think that will really help," he says.

Haag says the course is a good idea for Belle Isle because it encourages outdoor activity and holds a cross-generational appeal. "You're outdoors, you're walking around in a really nice park, and anyone can play it," he says. "I've taken my parents out, I've taken little kids out to play. It's not like ball golf ... it costs $20 for two Frisbees, and if you don't lose them, you can play the entire year on $20."

Haag, who moved to Detroit from Clarkston six months ago, usually heads back to North Oakland County for games, at courses like Holly Recreation Area or Addison Oaks. He says he's amazed by the game's increasing popularity since he started throwing the discs around six years ago. "I used to go anytime of day or night and maybe I would run into two or three other people," he remembers. "Now, I go, and I still love to play, but it's just totally different. If you go in the evening, every hole will have six people in a group getting ready to tee off, and two or three groups waiting behind them. There's hundreds of people out there every time."

He's sure of one thing: that enough Detroiters will get behind the idea in order to see a successful course built on Belle Isle's greens. "Detroit seems like the kind of place where, if you have something that you want to get done, it's just a matter of going out and doing it," he says.

So far, 513 people have "liked" this venture on Facebook. Click here to join them.
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