Free to play and kind to the environment, disc golf is rapidly gaining in popularity. ALIX NORMAN speaks to the professional who hopes to bring this exciting new sport to Cyprus

Paul McBeth makes 1,000,000 dollars a year playing a sport you’ve never heard of. He’s not the only one. Estonian Kristin Tattar is on a four-year deal that will net her over half a million from sponsorship alone. And that’s not including prize money (which can total well into the hundreds of thousands) or social media kickbacks (millions, if you’re in the top tier). Yet this is a sport that’s free to play, requires no expensive equipment, and is incredibly easy to learn. In fact, if you’ve ever tossed a Frisbee around with friends, you’ve already played something very similar to Disc Golf!

Enjoyed in over 80 countries, disc golf as a sport came out of the States in the late 60s. Its rules are similar to traditional golf but, rather than hitting a ball, you’re throwing a plastic disc from a tee pad into baskets on a nine- or 18-basket course. The number of throws per basket are tallied (often in relation to par), and players seek to complete each hole in the fewest possible throws.

feature3 robert on a disc golf course in Asturias, Spain photo by miguel espiau

Robert on a disc golf course in Asturias, Spain photo by Miguel Espiau

It’s a particular favourite in northern Europe; other than the States, the majority of the nearly 7,000 courses are in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Germany, and Norway. “So why not Cyprus?” asks Robert Abel, a professional course designer and long-time fan of disc golf. “We have an ideal winter climate; perfect terrain; and plenty of space: exactly the right conditions to make the island a major disc golf location!”

The 38-year-old Texan – who is married to a Cypriot – has a background in hospitality management, logistical operations and HR. But for the last decade, he’s been designing disc golf courses worldwide, most recently completing a championship level course in South Carolina. Now he’s working with local authorities to create several courses in Cyprus. And he’s very enthusiastic about the potential benefits to the island – winter tourism in particular.

“It’s such a popular sport in many of the colder nations, and whole families will often take their winter breaks based on visiting new disc golf locations. Typically, they arrive as a group, prefer off-season, and remain for up to 10 days in any country locations – travelling an entire region to play each course.”

Already, Robert is holding exhibition games in cooperation with the island’s Deputy Ministry of Tourism, Forestry Department, and the Cyprus Sports Organisation. And today, March 13, as well as next Sunday, March 20, will see exhibition rounds of disc golf played on the island for the very first time.

“Both are taking place in Athalassa Park in cooperation with authorities,” he explains, “and we’re very excited to see what people think. If you’re interested, we’ll be holding come-and-try-it rounds on both days at 11am and 1pm. Everything is free of charge, though we do ask that you let us know in advance as spaces are limited.”

Robert bills the sport as “easy to learn and fun to try.” But he’s also keen to highlight its negligible impact on the environment. “While traditional golf courses often destroy the natural terrain, and require precious water and countless man hours to maintain, disc golf is easy to set up, works within the natural environment, and requires virtually no maintenance,” says Robert.

“Baskets are set up on small concrete pads – a total disc golf course utilises less concrete than a basketball court – and can be easily moved to manage erosion. And upkeep is really no more than ensuring rubbish bins are emptied once a week! Meanwhile, foot traffic is spread out and gentle, and almost no modifications to the existing landscape are required: you’re not bulldozing, or installing irrigation or power lines. In Europe,” he notes, “many of the courses are on winery or brewery land – you can run a course across a winery and enjoy a game before a glass!”

Five potential course locations across the island have been proposed, often in areas that will encourage players to get off the beaten tourist track; included are Nicosia’s Athalassa Park, the outskirts of the Paphos Forest, and the hills around Lefkara.

“Disc golfers like to collect courses,” says Robert. “They tend to travel around a country to play all available courses, so less touristy areas will benefit from an increasing number of visitors. And ‘free to play’ means more will be spent on food and entertainment. In fact, you could play these courses with a Frisbee if you wished, though a proper disc costs approximately €12 and weighs about 160 grammes.”

Robert has already seen interest from Natural Born Disc Golfer – the company that manages the sport’s European pro tours. And as soon as he set up the ‘Cyprus Disc Golf’ Facebook page, associations around the world reached out. “I’ve been talking to the British Disc Golf Association, and Disc Golf Israel,” he reveals. “Both of whom are very enthusiastic about bringing members to the island!”

But it’s not just about enticing tourists to the island, he reiterates. Disc golf can be enjoyed by any age and any background, and Robert hopes residents will also take to the sport in their droves. “It’s incredibly inclusive,” he explains. “You don’t have to be tall or strong or fast to be good at it – I know plenty of players who are 20 years older and half my size who are far better than I am! You don’t need lots of money either – costs are negligible. And a round can be as social or as solitary as you wish: you can compete against others, or compete against the course.”

While the world’s best players, such as Paul McBeth, can make a lucrative career from the pursuit, disc golf is definitely a sport for the people, Robert concludes. “Ultimately, it’s simply a fantastic way to get out into nature and have fun. It’s said that golf is a good walk spoiled,” he laughs. “But I reckon disc golf is a good walk enjoyed!”

For more information, visit, the Facebook page ‘Disc Golf Cyprus’, the Instagram account @DiscGolfCyprus or email [email protected]