ASHLEY — While the popularity of disc golf continues to rise across the country, there remains a lack of in-store options for golfers seeking new discs. However, for Delaware County residents who are active in the sport, a potential go-to spot is now available.
Owners Rick Gorman and Rob Harper opened Slick Willy’s Disc Golf in Ashley on Sept. 1, marking the first dedicated disc golf store to open in the county and one of a select few existing in central Ohio. The shop offers a wide selection of every type of disc needed to play, including drivers, fairway drivers, midrange discs, approach discs and putters. The discs range in weight, speed, and stability factors based on the types of shots needed, as well as the player itself.
The location in Ashley at 106 E. High St. is in a central location to many of the courses in the area, Gorman said, making it a prime location for players in the area. He added that because a disc golf shop is going to be a destination location for golfers, the lack of general foot traffic around the shop is of no concern to his business.
Gorman, who played traditional golf collegiately and continued to play competitively after school, said he got into disc golf as he saw opportunities to play golf continue to decline. After finally agreeing to play disc golf with friends one weekend, Gorman said he has been hooked ever since. But as he began to step into the world of disc golf, he saw the need for more disc golf shops firsthand.
“There’s nowhere to buy (discs), so you buy them off the internet not knowing what you’re buying. You’re just picking a disc because it looks cool, and the next thing you know, you’ve got $500 wrapped up in discs that you can’t even throw,” Gorman said. “So that’s where the drive came for our own shop because I want people to feel the disc, talk to someone to make sure they’re buying the right disc for what they’re trying to achieve. For someone starting out, who doesn’t understand the flight numbers or characteristics of different plastics and stuff like that, it gives them somewhere they can come feel the discs, have it in their hands and get a feel for it, plus learn about different options that may suit them better.”
Gorman said the conversation alone that customers can have in the shop about what they need is perhaps the most valuable component of the shop. He shared a story of one customer he’s already interacted with whom he spent an hour simply teaching plastics and flight numbers prior to the customer’s purchase. The conversation even involved Gorman advising against purchasing a particular disc as it did not suit the customer’s game.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want his business. But I want him to by stuff that he’s going to use, not just waste his money,” Gorman said. “It’s amazing how much you can help someone by just guiding them. Heck, myself, I had $1,000 of plastic in my basement that I bought, and I couldn’t throw any of it because I didn’t know what I was buying. If there would have been a place I could have went to, I’d have saved over $1,000. That’s a lot of money.”
Slick Willy’s even includes a regulation basket where players, new or experienced, can test out putters and get a feel for various discs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served to increase the popularity of disc golf due to its courses, particularly the ones around Delaware, often being wooded and secluded. “It’s actually kind of relaxing. My wife walks our dogs while I play golf with some of my buddies. A lot of friends, girlfriends, and wives just come out to hangout because it’s peaceful to walk through there and listen to us make fun of each other,” Gorman said.
The shop has received good support in the early going, Gorman added, and he understands opening a disc golf shop isn’t the fast track to wealth. Their goal, he said, is to simply keep the shop running on its own and being a place where players can come to get what they need.
“It’s a niche sport, but if we keep the store open and it’s self-sustaining, even if we’re not making a bunch of money off of it, that’s the goal. The goal is to have a self-sustaining shop where people can come feel plastic and buy their equipment,” Gorman said.
Slick Willy’s is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., although Gorman said the shop may begin opening at 10 a.m. on Saturdays in the near future. To contact the shop, call 740-413-4016.