How do disc golfers practice their sport during the cold and dark days of winter months?
That was the question Chris Smith answered by forming the Newton Indoor Putting League, which meets at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in Lindley Hall at Santa Fe 5/6 Center, 130 W. Broadway St. in Newton.
Smith, a 20-year veteran of disc golf, invites area players to hone their skills in the indoor facility as part of a marksman putting league run by Emporia's Dynamic Discs.
"It's a local competition," Smith said. "Our stats are kept on an app and we can compare how we do to the rest of the world."
Disc golfers can enter the weekly competition for a $5 fee. The top scorer gets to take home a special disc.
"You get five putts from five different spots," Smith said.
The players line up in front of targets, aiming to strike the chains hanging from the rim so their disc drops in the basket below.
Logan Harpool said he started playing disc golf for fur about three years ago, but now he is making a serious effort to improve his game.
"Most people can go outside and throw a disc hard," Harpool said. "But to be dead on, throwing it, hitting chains and knowing where it's going, that's the hard part, so that's why we come in and practice this."
The Newton Indoor Putting League has drawn participants from as far away as Wichita and Hutchinson, Smith noted.
"We know how important putting is," Harpool said. "For everyone else, it's just throwing Frisbees into baskets, but it's a little tougher than it looks."
Putting is not the only thing the disc golfers practice in Lindley Hall. Targets are set up all around the gymnasium, offering a variety of shots for the players to try to hit.
"We pretty much set up an indoor disc golf course in here and just kind of have a good old time messing around," Smith said.
"We kind of nerd out about it," Harpool said.
The discs used on outdoor courses include drivers, mid-rangers and putters, each shaped differently and labelled with numbers denoting speed, glide, turn and fade.
"When you understand those, you understand how you need to throw them," Harpool said.
Disc golf's popularity — and the public's interest in the game — has grown in recent years.
"The majority of the people are just people that go out to enjoy it and get out in the park," Smith said.
Newton has three disc golf courses — at Camp Hawk, Centennial Park and Bethel College — and may smaller towns like Peabody, Marquette, Hesston, Moundridge and Florence also have courses set up for players to tackle.
"The fact that Newton has three courses show that it's (popular)," Smith said.
"It's growing like crazy," Harpool said. "...We can't do it on courses so much right now unless we quit our jobs...so we come in here."
Besides the enjoyment he gets from playing the game, there is another factor that keeps Smith involved in disc golf.
"I like the people. Most people are cool and willing to help each other out," Smith said.