Sports

Disc golf flies past parks board



“Fore!”

Frisbees may be flying through the sky at Robin Hill Farm Park now that the Clallam County Parks board and board of commissioners approved a proposal for the installation of an 18-hole course.

Over the past year, Michael McAleer of Sequim has been organizing local disc-tossing citizens into a group dedicated to creating a local disc golf course. He’s secured sponsors for installing equipment, volunteers to provide labor, a layout for the course and approval from the parks board.

Next, Clallam County parks staff will create a State Environmental Policy Act review for the county hearings examiner, who can recommend approval to county commissioners, require a redraft of the proposal or deny the application.

“I’m really excited to see this go forward,” McAleer said May 6, holding a bag of discs he took as a visual aid for the board. “This is an activity that will have minimal impact to the park and will provide a great source of exercise, crossing age, gender, race and socioeconomic lines.”

The parks board unanimously approved the proposal and the county commissioners approved its placement on the park’s master plan, which does not guarantee its construction. The 18 holes will run from the Dryke Road park access point northeast to the park’s open field and back if approved.

Disc golf is played with rules similar to golf. A disc is thrown from a tee toward a metal basket, its destination. The sport can be played with a single disc or many types, such as drivers, mid-range and putters.

“It is great to see people coming here to the park board and making a presentation of ideas for park use that fit into the landscape,” said Gary Colley, parks board member.

The proposal would require 12 trees to be cut down, which are small and diseased according to county staff. Also, some understory plants, including salal and ferns, would need to be removed.

“Michael spent a lot of time figuring out a course that would be entertaining and would cause the least amount of impact to the park, using natural landscapes,” said Bruce Giddens, with county parks. “Two of the holes utilize a bit of the equestrian trail, so we are proposing to move the trail a bit and increase its length.”

County staff indicated all fairways but one would be separate from the trail system to limit the possibility of walking or equestrian disturbance. The lone hole crossing a trail is located on the park’s field, which has high visibility.

The equestrian trail in the southeast corner would be extended around the 40 acres of forestland acquired by the county years after the establishment of the park.

“The 40 acres will remain virtually as it is other than the trail which will loop its perimeter,” said Joel Winborn, with county parks, indicating the revision likely would add more than a half mile of trail.

A rough estimate projects the overall expense to be between $15,000 and $20,000. McAleer is lining up local business sponsors that would fund a hole’s construction and in turn get their name on the hole’s marker.

“We understand there are sponsors lined up, but we wanted to give the board an idea of the cost if the county decided to do this on its own,” said Craig Jacobs, Public Works director. “If we didn’t collect a dime from sponsors, it’s staff’s opinion this would be worthwhile to fund and install either way.”

The park, especially the south side, is under-utilized, according to the parks board and staff. The Dryke Road parking area is rarely used and would be able to support more cars.

Parks staff took a field trip to disc golf courses in Bremerton, Chimacum and at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds to see how well they work on other public lands.

“We were surprised to see the diversity and amount of people using the park midday on a Wednesday,” Winborn said. “I’d never played before. It was fun and the courses really looked nice and were not covered in litter or anything like that.”

McAleer proposed the idea to the board in mid-2007. After a story ran in the Gazette covering the proposal, McAleer said he was flooded with letters of support from individuals and organizations including local Boy Scout troops, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, local churches and the Sequim School District.

“In a place where kids are looking for things to do, possibly without a lot of money in their pocket, this is an activity that repeatedly brings them back to a park, gets them exercise and will not cost them more than $10 for a single disc,” McAleer said. “Plus, it has a growing popularity in all age groups.”



For more information on disc golf, visit the Professional Disc Golf Association at www.pdga.com.

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