COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America. Never heard of it? Well, it’s making its way to Columbus.
It’s a mix of tennis, ping pong and badminton.
“In small communities like this, it’s hard to get started because nobody has a clue what it is. But in the larger cities it’s just huge,” said local instructor David Barron.
The game was actually created in 1965 by a congressman near Seattle. Players use an over sized ping pong paddle to hit a wiffle ball back and forth on a small court.
“It’s less stressful for your joints for older people. It’s really been adopted by people 50 and older, although young people can go at it just as hard as they can at tennis. Because it is a smaller court, there’s not as much running involved. It can still be very strenuous if you want to play that way. I can come out here with my grand kids, and I can come out here with someone who’s 75 or 80 years old and play,” Barron said.
So why the funny name?
“The family that invented this game had a cocker spaniel named Pickles. Any time a ball would go flying off the court, Pickles would run after the ball. So the game became known as picklesball, and later just pickleball,” Barron said.
David and Yvonne Barron learned the game while vacationing in Florida. The Villages, also known as the pickleball capital of the world, has 140 professional courts and people lined up waiting to play everyday. About one year ago the Barrons helped build a pickleball court at Elm Lake Golf Course in Columbus. Anyone can use it, at no charge.
“We’re trying to find new activities to bring people out to Elm Lake. We just want people to come out here, get a little exercise, bring your grand kids out here, bring your friends out here and we don’t charge for it. All you need to do is go to the clubhouse and tell them you want the pickleball paddles and balls and they’ll give them to you. Come out here and try it,” said David Barron.
Yvonne Barron says, “We always enjoy playing with new people and helping them learn the game. We’d be more than happy to help you learn at your pace, no pressure.”
Elm Lake Golf Course is located at 1609 Taylor Thurston Road in Columbus. Call (662) 329-8964 for more information. David and Yvonne Barron also teach pickleball in the Learning Enrichment Program at Mississippi University for Women.