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County considers disc golf course
Disc golf: Coming soon to a park near you? Perhaps.
Nearly four years after county residents rejected a proposed disc golf park at Robin Hill Farm County Park, a proposal is back on the proverbial drawing board.
Now the county parks board is looking at 20 acres of land adjacent to Thompson Road, less than a mile east of Sequim Bay.
In 2007, the Clallam County Parks board approved to its master plan a proposal for a disc golf course at Robin Hill, but after a lengthly public deliberation process, the proposal was removed from the master plan.
While park officials say majority of opposition came from horse users, others in audience in October said a variety of park users, including walkers and hikers, opposed the proposal as well.
“They felt it was a strictly passive park,” Joel Winborn, Clallam County Parks, Fair and Facilities Department director, said.
In early 2010, Winborn said, a disc golf proponent asked to see a disc golf park added back to the board’s master plan but not tied to a specific site like Robin Hill.
Parks board members assessed 20 county-owned parks — 17 of them day-use — along with other properties that could host a disc golf course, Winborn said, including the Dungeness Recreation Area and Carrie Blake Park in Sequim, Lincoln Park, Salt Creek Recreation Area and Clallam County Fairgrounds in Port Angeles and others.
The problem with most, Winborn said, is that the land is either too small or development would interfere with those parks’ user groups, as it did with Robin Hill.
But the parks board did find a prime prospect in half of a 40-acre site adjacent to Thompson Road, just east of Sequim. The land meets requirements of a full, 18-hole disc golf course, allowing for multiple configurations and varying features for players of all levels.
Clallam County acquired the Thompson Road land in 1928 as a tax foreclosure. Since then the county has sold timber off the land to Merrill & Ring (1980), shifted the land to the county road department (1987) and used the land for the spoils of a Jimmycomelately Creek restoration. In 2013, 20 of the 40 total acres was transferred to the parks department. The zoning is residential and would require a rezone to parks and recreation status.
Why disc golf?
Disc golf players toss Frisbee-like discs toward free-standing baskets that have chain links attached. As in regular golf, the fewest number of throws to a hole (or pin) wins.
The sport has seen 12 to 15 percent growth in the last decade. In 2008, Washington featured 41 courses. As of late 2013, the state now has 94 courses — 64 public, 30 private — according to county parks sources.
County park officials like the disc golf proposal, Winborn noted, because the sport 1) meets the objectives of the organization, 2) is easy enough that all ages can play, 3) is inexpensive (free), 4) is family friendly, 5) requires little maintenance by park staff, 6) is a year-round activity, 7) is a draw for tourists, 8) requires no appointments or scheduling to play, 9) allows for other use of land and 10) may add a volunteer group to the county system.
The park board’s goal is, “To maximize parks and recreation opportunities and thereby improve the quality of life for all residents in the county.”
Disc golf courses are not as big as golf courses, Winborn said. Needing just 20-40 feet in width for each hole, an 18-hole course takes up about 20 acres, Winborn said, rather than a golf course’s 140-200 acres.
And though some people could be injured by an errant disc, there have not been any reported fatalities because of one, Winborn said.
The relative modest size and amount of large equipment for a course is more environmentally friendly than other recreation facilities, Winborn said, and the idea that a disc golf course might be a “blight” hasn’t stopped the development of about 3,000 courses across the United States.
The price tagAn 18-hole course would need about 20 acres, Winborn said. Along with the desired topography — varied landscape, a mix of open and tree areas, hills, etc. — a disc golf course needs tees at the beginning, holes (or pins) at the end and signage. Players would provide their own discs.
A course would cost about $13,700, Winborn said. About half the cost ($7,200) would be for construction and materials for the holes (pins). Another $2,000 for concrete slab tees, $2,000 for signage and $2,500 for miscellaneous costs such as Sanicans, fuel, various materials, etc.
That $13,700 cost estimate, Winborn said, is well below what the county would pay for a new tennis court ($50,000), playground ($55,000), restroom ($145,000), soccer field ($220,000), baseball field ($230,000) or skate park ($500,000).
Project meets with positives
Winborn and other county park officials hosted a public meeting on Oct. 24 at the Sequim Prairie Grange Hall, where the majority of those in the audience who spoke out support the proposal.
E. Michael McAleer of Sequim said he doesn’t play sports like racquetball or pickleball but supports those who do.
“I want other people to support my activities,” McAleer said. “I support (this proposal) for sure.”
“It’s a phenomenal sport for families,” Port Angeles resident Mike Maxwell said. “It’s a great health activity. I have a hard time finding a negative with this type of thing.”
Scott and Shannon Brunskill are Dallas residents who have property in Sequim. They both spoke up for the proposal.
“This site looks really nice,” Scott Brunskill said. “Playing disc in this area is amazing in terms of a terrain. I can’t imagine anyone being against outdoor free exercise in Washington state.”The two have property next to a disc golf course in Dallas, and said they’ve seen their property values rise.
“For younger couples, (disc golf) is a draw with them,” Shannon Brunskill said.
Originally, Winborn said, the intent was to further the disc golf project proposal at a Parks Advisory Board on Nov. 5, but the board did not have a quorum and the meeting was cancelled. The board’s next scheduled meeting is Jan. 7, in the Clallam County board of commissioners meeting room, where board members will discuss the proposal and determine the next steps.
That, Winborn said, may mean another public meeting or a recommendation to the board of commissioners with the Thompson Road site recommendation.
See the Clallam County Parks’ disc golf presentation at clallam.net/parks.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.