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If you’re a disc golfer and outdoor enthusiast in general, chances are you’ve heard of geocaching. Geocaching is very similar to disc golf in the respect that is has a passionate and dedicated user-base, yet has failed to reach mainstream recognition in spite of its inexpensive and highly accessibly nature. It is due to is amicability with other uses and throngs of like-minded users that we focus this article on the fusion of disc golf and geocaching as a cross promotional tool.
Geocaching is defined as “an outdoor sport or game of searching for hidden objects by using Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates posted on the Internet.” (Source: www.dictionary.com) The way we like we to promote this activity is by calling at a “GPS-driven treasure hunt.”
Nowadays, with a large portion of the population owning smart phones, there is no need to invest in a GPS unit that early geocachers had to us. All you have to do is go online to www.geocaching.com and enter in your zip code to find “caches” that are in close proximity to you. There is a plethora of information on each cache, but the meat and potatoes of what you want are the GPS coordinates that you need to plug into your phone or GPS unit. Typically, geocachers need to drive to parking information that is provided on the specific cache, but then it’s all nature after that. You simply hop on the trail head and follow your GPS to the location of the cache!
Caches come in a variety of forms — ranging from Tupperware containers and ammo boxes, to film canisters and “virtual locations.” We could get into the vast offerings of multi-caches, earthcaches, and travel bugs, but for now, let’s keep it simple and say you are looking for a Tupperware box filled with goodies! Each “traditional cache” is filled with a log for users to mark down any comments, in addition to a plethora of goodies for children. The rule of thumb is to bring something to leave if you are going to take something yourself. These goodies range from stickers and trinkets, to gems and crayons. There really is no limit to what you will find in a geocache, but the sole purpose of the cache is to bring you to a destination someone wanted you to experience.
It is this last sentence where geocaching bears a striking similarity to disc golf if you look close enough. Disc golf and geocaching are both “conduits to help users interact with nature.” Deep down, that’s the heart and soul of Landscape Architecture — moving users throughout the landscape while evoking feelings of joy and nostalgia through conversation, contemplativeness and dozens of other actions. If you want someone to sit, put a bench in. If you want someone to relax, move them to a trickling stream. If you want someone to see something that you want to share — put in a geocache or design a series of disc golf holes that move users to that desired location.
Although these similarities between disc golf and geocaching are exciting for us as designers, we think that the recreational community should take the role of promoter and focus on the cross promotion between the two activities. Let’s look back at the core purpose of geocaching — to bring you to a destination worth sharing — be it a park, a swimming hole, the Eiffel Tower (yes, there is a geocache there) or museum! On a very simple scale, the least we can do is urge every disc golf course to put a geocache near their 1st tee and message board. This will move these like-minded outdoor enthusiasts to a beautiful piece of property where they can see one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and have the opportunity to read up on disc golf at the message board that denotes the 1st tee.
There are obviously more intricate ways to cross promote the two activities, but we believe that creating and hiding a cache near the message board by the 1st tee or a couple holes on the course is a great way to bring light to disc golf, if not the other way around. It will be seldom that a disc golfer will actually find a geocache without the coordinates or a GPS, but the geocacher will ALWAYS find disc golf if a cache is played near the course. Maybe they will just look at the basket and wonder what it is. Maybe they will take the sport and become the next Will Schusterick. At the very least, though, they will find the geocache and open it up to the sign the log. So why not take the opportunity to promote the sport you love, and make this a disc golf-centric geocache? Put some stickers and minis in the cache, in addition to some literature about the sport of disc golf, some beginner tips, the address to a local disc golf shop or point them in the direction of Disc Golf Course Review.
Geocaching and disc golf are fascinating, inexpensive ways to interact with nature all the while getting a healthy dose of exercise. These activities require a very minimal footprint and can adapt to almost any site, so we urge you to take the opportunity to bring light to our sport through cross promotion. We’re by no means saying put a cache on every hole, but find a beautiful spot on your course that you’d like to move a geocacher to. Maybe it’s under a large grove of trees with a bench, or a vista point overlooking the disc golf course and valley below. Either way, taking these simple steps will benefit your fellow outdoor enthusiast, open their eyes to a new sport, and continue to push disc golf towards the mainstream public.