Disc golf

Folks gather, each with their own style, to play disc golf on the nine-hole course at New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach on Thursday. A group of about 60 regulars gather for the weekly Thursday round of disc golf and beer. 

Myrtle Beach is famous for its golf, but a spinoff of the traditional sport is also taking flight in popularity on the Grand Strand.

Disc golf, a sport that involves tossing Frisbee-like saucers into “holes” (caged baskets), has become both a national and local pastime. And because disc golf requires less room and equipment than its stick-and-ball ancestor, the sport is showing up in some unlikely places.

Case in point is New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach, which has transformed the brewery into a nine-hole disc golf course for its patrons. Each Thursday afternoon, the beer starts flowing and the players start throwing against some friendly competition in a fun atmosphere.

“Everything’s more fun with a beer in your hand,” joked Dakota Mileski, banking a shot off the brewery wall and into the chain-link hole. “There are a lot of nice people that come to compete and have a good time. We’re just a bunch of hippies that like disc golf and beer.”

Mileski is one of about 60 regulars who play in the weekly disc golf putting league at New South. Unlike the longer disc golf layouts, putting courses like New South’s are shorter in distance and feature obstacles, sort of like a putt-putt version of a regulation course.

Play has been suspended because of the recommendation to limit gatherings and the state order to shutter, according to New South Brewery spokesman.

Like regular golf, the goal is to get around the course in as few “strokes” or throws possible. The player with the lowest number of strokes wins.

“We have expanded to nine holes and we change the course every week,” said New South owner David Epstein, who added eight holes outdoors and a ninth inside the brewery. “A lot of putting leagues only have one or two holes so it’s the same shot over and over. We mix it up.”

Mixing disc golf and a brewery might seem like an odd match, but New South’s putting league is an extension of a trend in the booming sport. In fact, the league was actually started years ago at organizer Greg Hill’s residence until the gathering outgrew his home course.

“We used to get together at my place but it got so big that parking became an issue,” said Hill, who runs the putting league under his 2 Far Under Par disc golf organization. “When we started it seven years ago we only had about 10 members and now we have more than 100.”

Those numbers continue to grow after Hill partnered with New South to host the weekly gatherings. In addition to attracting veteran players looking for a fun place to gather, regular patrons who notice the high-flying action also have decided to give the sport a spin.

“Everybody here is so friendly and helpful,” said Katelyn Sleptzoff, who along with husband Jeremiah are “newbies” to the sport. “They are very welcoming and willing to teach you how to play. It can get competitive but it’s all in fun, especially getting to play at a brewery.”

Hill is particularly proud of the number of female players who have picked up disc golf. In fact, Throw Pink, a national organization that supports breast cancer research and treatment, offered to sponsor the women’s league because of the impressive turnout of female players.

“We have about 20 women each week, and every other league I’ve seen is lucky to have half that many,” said Hill, who awards weekly and seasonal winners with prizes. “A lot of ladies try it and love it. It’s a sport that’s easy for beginners to pick up and be competitive.”

There are various putting leagues located throughout the Grand Strand, as well as several regulation disc golf courses, like Socastee Park, Stables Park and Tupelo Bay Golf Center. New disc golf courses are being added to parks in North Myrtle Beach and the Market Common.

But for folks who want to throw back a cold one while flinging a few flat ones, New South serves up a fun environment for disc golf.

“The main thing I like is it’s family-friendly,” said Milkeski, who brings her 7- and 10-year-old sons to compete with adults and other children. “My kids love to play and the people here are so nice to them. I think we’re all a bunch of kids when we’re playing disc golf.”

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