Disc golf injury that could have cost a woman her eye shouldn’t have happened

by | Nov 16, 2021 | Disc Golf

Opening more disc golf courses could reduce the problem of flying discs hurting passers-by in a popular Christchurch park, players say.

Naomi Cooke was hit in the face by a golf disc on May 11 while walking her dog in Jellie Park, leading to the fifth complaint about the sport to Christchurch City Council last year. All complaints related to Jellie Park in Burnside.

Cooke was only inches away from losing an eye. She barely had time to react when the disc hit her with a “big blow” in the face and her right cheek swelled almost to the size of a golf ball.

The Christchurch Disc Golf Club, which operates Jellie Park course, is aware of the incident.

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Club President Paul Deacon said it may be the busiest disc golf course in Australia and New Zealand, but the accident “shouldn’t have happened”.

The first rule of the Disc Golf Code was never to throw a disc with people on the fairway or in a blind area. In this sport, players score points by throwing a Frisbee-like disc at a target.

Naomi Cooke says she doesn't want the sport banned but wants better security to keep the park safe for everyone.


Naomi Cooke says she doesn’t want the sport banned but wants better security to keep the park safe for everyone.

Jellie Park is one of the six courses in Christchurch and is the oldest, established in March 2015. Of the 3,500 players in Christchurch, the park has about 2,000 and often sees 400 to 500 players on a weekend day.

It was unusual to have a course in such a busy park, but the courses often made use of partially wooded spaces in public parks – especially unused spaces, Deacon said.

It wasn’t until Tuesday that Cooke became concerned about public safety in the park.

“It was a bit of a shock. I don’t want to get the person [who threw the disc] in trouble or I’m not trying to get it banned, but I just think something has to change in the way it actually happens, ”Cooke said.

Christchurch Disc Golf Club President Paul Deacon says the accident in which a disc was struck in the face of a woman


Christchurch Disc Golf Club president Paul Deacon says the accident that struck a woman’s face with a disc “shouldn’t have happened”.

It was the second incident Deacon knew about in six years. He contacted Cooke’s friend and apologized, she said.

The club is working with the council to signpost the park.

“We have ordered signage to inform park users of the presence of disc golf and disc golfers of etiquette requirements,” said a city council spokesman.

Deacon said the club was very safety conscious and was hosting events to offer free training.

More courses would also need to be installed to ease pressure on Jellie Park, a problem recognized by the council, he said.

Four new courses are in the works and form the focus of the club. It had recently received $ 20,000 from the New Zealand Community Trust to help meet its goal of raising $ 126,400.

Deacon says the club is working with the council to improve safety around the disc golf course in Jellie Park.


Deacon says the club is working with the council to improve safety around the disc golf course in Jellie Park.

Deacon said the sport was inexpensive and accessible to a wide segment of the population. The plan was to “let three generations play,” he said.

Alderman James Gough said it was worrying to hear someone was injured, but he had noticed the positive impact that species had on the community.

“This seems to be really fun for the community, it’s a good excuse for people to be outside and get some fresh air.”

It’s important to strike a balance between reducing risk where possible while allowing people to enjoy the activity, Gough said.