Why Columbia County residents relish pickleball

Columbia County is getting behind pickleball, which is so popular that even our Nick Viland had to try it.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 5:20 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2022 at 6:16 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - More pickleball is coming to Columbia County, with local leaders looking to expand access to courts.

It’s part of the SPLOST money voters approved in the November election.

We had a chance to play a game with a pickleball instructor at Montclair Pickleball Courts. They were one of the first communities in the area to support this game and hope to grow it even more.

“You can just pick up a paddle and pick it up pretty easily, and I think that’s what makes it so appealing to everybody,” said Mitchell Johnson, a pickleball instructor.

Maybe that’s why it’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation.

Johnson, like so many, saw pickleball being played two years ago, so he tried it out.

“I’ve been playing ever since,” he said.

Now he coaches players and works to grow the game.

It looks like he’ll get the chance, with more courts planned in Columbia County. Officials say they have an idea for the location but haven’t finalized that yet.

Johnson says you just need two pieces of equipment to get going: a pickleball – which he describes as “kind of like a wiffle ball but a harder plastic” – and some paddles.

The courts are smaller than tennis courts, and there’s an area unique to pickleball.

“It’s called the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen,” Johnson said.

It’s where you have to let the ball bounce before hitting it, avoiding slams and forcing you to hit it short and soft with – what players call a “dink.”

Now Columbia County is investing more than $1 million into building pickleball courts in the county.

The courts only got on the SPLOST list because the public asked for them.

“When we were having the public listening sessions, pickleball was one of the things that kept coming up over and over and over,” said Scott Johnson, county manager.

“We’re excited about getting some big pickleball courts design and getting those players out there playing.”

He hopes to have more than 18 courts in one park so the county can also start hosting tournaments, generating tourism dollars as well.