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Fore! Disc golf comes to DeBell

New sport comes to struggling Burbank club. But not everyone's happy.

July 15, 2012|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com
  • Philo Brathwaite uses a "putting disc" on the 11th green disc catcher at the Verdugo Hills Golf Course in Tujunga.
Philo Brathwaite uses a "putting disc" on… (Photo by Mike Mullen )

A year after Burbank's struggling DeBell Golf Club had to tap a $2-million bailout loan from the city, the course is turning to a different version of its bread-and-butter sport to help bring it out of the red — disc golf.

DeBell's new par-3 disc golf course opens up to the growing sport Sunday, putting it in the unique position of being one of two local courses to offer disc play alongside its more traditional counterpart.

The Verdugo Hills Golf Course in Tujunga incorporated disc golf in November, a move that has “definitely increased revenue,” officials there said.

Antoine Dedeaux, who runs the pro shop at Verdugo Hills, estimated there are 40 to 60 disc players a day.

At $5 a head, that would mean at least $5,000 a month, excluding concession sales, and the revenue generated from players who participate in the popular weekly tournaments.

Scott Scozzola, director of golf at DeBell, projected disc golf could bring in $30,000 a year, and possibly up to $50,000.

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“It's attainable if it's promoted,” Scozzola said. “It's going to be a good thing.”

Disc golf is played by throwing specially designed discs that are smaller than Frisbees at metal baskets, usually spread out over an 18-hole course.

The goal is to “traverse a course from beginning to end in the least number of throws of the disc,” according to the Professional Disc Golf Assn.

Most disc golf courses, such as the one at Verdugo Hills, are 18 holes in length, but other combinations include nine and 22 holes.

DeBell's disc course is a 9-hole course, spread around the edges of club's the par 3 golf course.

Innova, one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers for disc golf, estimates that 200 to 300 new disc golf courses spring up each year.

In 1995, there were just 500 such courses nationwide, but as of 2010, that number had jumped to 3,000, according to Innova.

Still, combining disc and traditional golf is a fairly new idea, said Gary Sandoval, a 20-year disc player who started the weekly tournaments at Verdugo Hills.

“A lot of golf courses look at me like I'm a nut: ‘You're going to do what? You're going to bring Frisbees to my course? No way,'” Sandoval said. “If they could only see what we do here. We really are doing good here.”

The only other course in the region that offers simultaneous disc and traditional golf is the Center City Golf Course at Goat Hill in Oceanside.

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