Grant to Boost Marketing of Bedford County as a Disc Golf Destination | Local news

With five public courses, Bedford County is no stranger to disc golf.

Now, capitalizing on the growing popularity of the sport and the local tourism campaign, “Destination Bedford Disc Golf,” a $19,500 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation to support marketing efforts will help promote the county as a disc golf destination.

“Disc golf in general, in this area, especially in Bedford County, has skyrocketed,” said Kenny Palmer, Bedford County parks and recreation operations coordinator. “Disc golf is by far the highest participation amenity at our parks right now. That also includes the trail systems. Our trails get quite a bit of use, but disc golf definitely outnumbers trail users.”

In recent years, Bedford County has continually worked to maintain, improve or expand disc golf courses as a tourist attraction that attracts visitors and professional or amateur disc golfers from far and wide. Bedford’s five courses are managed by the county parks and recreation department.

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“For this particular app, I chose Destination Bedford Disc Golf as the marketing program because people come from all over the country to play the courses here,” Nicole Johnson, director of tourism in Bedford County, said by email. “The tourism department began promoting disc golf in 2019 with the launch of the Destination Bedford branding and marketing campaign. Now I want to go one step further. I not only want to create more awareness of the courses here, but also encourage those who come to play disc golf to stay longer and discover other activities and attractions.”

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When applying for a Virginia tourism grant, Johnson said, the applicant must have a specific project in mind. Grant money will fund email, print, digital, social media, television and radio advertising for Destination Bedford Disc Golf.

Part of the appeal of disc golf is that it’s an outdoor activity, accessible to almost everyone, and one that isn’t negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Palmer said.

While many venues and events were closed or limited, particularly indoor ones, outdoor disc golf lent itself perfectly as something to do in a healthy and safe environment, Palmer said.

The pandemic also allowed parks and recreation workers to focus particularly on disc golf course projects as breaks in other activities opened longer.

Five-time world disc golf champion and Bedford County resident Paul McBeth helped design the county’s newest disc golf course as of 2020 at the New London Business and Technology Center Park in Forest, along with the county parks and recreation department.

This championship-level course was ranked No. 29 out of 13,000 in the world by UDisc, according to Palmer, one of the leading apps used by disc golfers worldwide. Stretching approximately 11,000 feet, roughly two miles, it is the longest public disc golf course in Bedford County.

Over the past year, Palmer said he’s seen an increasing number of disc golfers in general and more people coming from outside the area. Participation in two local disc golf clubs, one based in Bedford County and the other in Lynchburg, has also been growing steadily, she said.

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“I am in the fields for a long time working. I know a lot of people out there,” Palmer said. “Generally, more than half of them are not from around here. They came here specifically to play disc golf.”

The marketing grant award comes at the perfect time for the fourth annual Battle for Bedford Disc Golf Tournament, where players of all levels will compete, both in and out of the area.

Palmer said nearly 400 participants from some 20 different states had signed up as of Thursday for the event, which will take place Oct. 22-23.

“He’s going in the right direction and I don’t see him slowing down for a while,” Palmer said.

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