If conventional golf is a good walk spoiled, what came to Lake Montebello on Saturday was more like an afternoon thrown away.
Under cloudy skies and the threat of a downpour that never came, several dozen enthusiasts and community activists gathered to welcome the sport known as disc golf to the Northeast Baltimore park. It was the official kickoff of a 24-hole course that will help round out the recreational opportunities at the city park — already popular for its hiking and biking and the exercise equipment scattered across its grounds.
The course, made of six "kiddie" holes and an 18-hole adult course, adds more capacity for devotees of the fast-growing sport in which players throw plastic discs toward a basket that serves the same purpose as a hole in golf. The object, much like conventional golf, is to get the disk into the "hole" in the fewest possible throws.
It was, a reporter found, more difficult than it sounds. Contestants typically carry a variety of discs for throws of different length — much as a conventional golfer hauls around clubs from a driver to a putter. But there are advantages.
"It's much cheaper than ball golf, that's for sure," said Jon Mauldin of Perry Hall, who played the adult course Saturday with Joshua Sieber of Hampden and Anton Smith of Towson.
Community leaders say the debut of the new course, designed and built for less than $20,000 with the use of volunteer labor, gives a boost to a section of the city that has been having troubled times in recent years with a growing number of homicides.
The course "signifies the re-emergence of this community and the future direction we're heading to," said Mark Washington, executive director of the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood group.
Brandon Scott, who won the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District City Council seat last week, helped get the course off the ground in his previous role as community liaison for Northeast Baltimore. He said the course will help draw people to the park.
"People are excited about it," he said. "The lake is like a hub for activity in the neighborhood. So this is like the icing on the cake," he said.