Joel Winborn counted down from three and the colorful discs took flight.
Winborn, the Clallam County parks, fair and facilities director, and a group of disc golf proponents cast their plastic gliders at a metal basket on July 26 to mark the official dedication of the Rainshadow Disc Golf Park near Blyn.
“This day’s been long in the making, about 11 years to be exact,” Winborn said before the ceremonial disc toss.
The prolonged effort to bring disc golf to east Clallam County has resulted in a new county park at 395 Thompson Road just off Old Blyn Highway.
The 40-acre park is about two miles west of the Jefferson County line and nine miles east of downtown Sequim.
“It’s clear to me that this is going to be one of the jewels of the Clallam County park system,” Clallam County commissioner Mark Ozias said during a ceremony at the first tee.
The 18-hole Rainshadow Disc Golf Park features a variety of terrain and challenges for players of all skill levels.
It was built by county parks maintenance staff, chain gang inmate work crews and scores of dedicated volunteers, officials said.
“It has a beautiful backdrop,” Winborn said, pausing to glance at the mountains that frame the first hole.
“It’s got wooded spaces, open spaces. We’ve got topography and elevation changes, all of which make for a more challenging, exciting and interesting course for folks to play.”
Disc golf is played like regular golf except flying discs are used instead of golf balls.
The discs, which are smaller and more compact than traditional Frisbees, are thrown into a series of elevated metal baskets.
Unlike regular golf, there are no green fees to play disc golf.
Clallam County has a “fairly large contingent” of disc golfers, Winborn said.
He added that the new park will attract players from other regions.
“People plan their vacations around locations that have disc golf parks,” Winborn said.
A local resident suggested that Clallam County build a disc golf course more than a decade ago, Winborn said.
Robin Hill Farm was identified as a potential location, but that proposal was shelved after equestrians and other park users protested.
“Over the years, we looked at a lot of sites to get to where we are here today,” Winborn told about 50 attendees of the ceremony.
The Thompson Road site originally was acquired by Clallam County through a tax default. It was logged in the 1970s and was used to store material from a dredging project on Sequim Bay in the early 2000s.
Twenty acres of the property were transferred from the county Road Department to Parks, Fair and Facilities in 2013. The other half was transferred in 2015.
Roger Hoffman began designing the course about five years ago, using a machete to bushwhack through the once-unforgiving terrain.
Hoffman, who chairs the Clallam County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, said his primary goal for the park was “safety of the players and neighbors.”
Hoffman said his second goal was to “make it interesting and fun for a wide range of players, from beginners to seasoned pros.”
Rainshadow Disc Golf Park has 14 par-3 holes, four par-4s and a total playing distance of 4,988 feet.
“There is a variety,” Hoffman said of the layout.
“There’s also some room for expansion out here.”
Some of the holes can be extended for tournament play or simply for variety, Hoffman said.
Other public disc golf courses on the North Olympic Peninsula are at Lincoln Park in Port Angeles, H.J. Carroll Park in Chimacum and Tillicum Park in Forks.
Volunteers, staff and park users will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the park, which has been unofficially open to the public for weeks.
During the dedication ceremony, Winborn thanked current and former commissioners for supporting the project.
Winborn, Ozias and County Parks Supervisor Bruce Giddens thanked the volunteers and staff who worked on the property acquisition and its subsequent development.
Giddens acknowledged the chain gang crews and their Sheriff’s Office supervisors for building switchback trails, a retaining wall and steps leading from the parking lot to the first tee.
“They’ve pulled scotch broom, cleared fairways of woody debris and took out walls of blackberry,” Giddens said.
The large kiosk at the parking lot was constructed as Matthew Craig’s Eagle Scout project, Giddens said.
“He organized the work parties to build the kiosk and installed many of the signs you’ll find throughout the park here,” Giddens said.
“He, the (Boy) Scouts and their parents have done a wonderful job and their effort is greatly appreciated.”
Giddens added, “It’s only with the Herculean efforts of all these volunteers, the chain gang and the county parks and maintenance crew that have created this park.”
Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.