Friday, October 10, 2008

I have a Disc-Golf Dream

By Jim Banholzer

Men spend their time in following a ball or a hare; it is the pleasure even of kings. - Blaise Pascal - The Penses: 141

Ever since my friend Colt - who we sometimes call the Dick Fosbury of Disc Golf - turned me on to the sport two decades ago by showing me some thrilling trick shots, I felt that Disc Golf was going to have a great future, perhaps someday even evolving into an Olympic demonstration sport.

For those who don’t know much about Disc Golf, and would like to learn more; perusing through a few linked websites is informative; while even more instructive are several in-depth YouTube demonstrations. A common theme is that courses can be found in almost every city, with the majority accessible at no cost. Unfortunately, our area of Idaho is one of the rare exceptions. The good news for disc-enthusiasts, though, is that this could soon change, with a recent Sun Valley Online poll indicating that our community has more than a passing interest in the inventive sport.

The inexpensiveness of installing and maintaining disc golf courses makes a good argument for more recreation districts, schools and cities to embrace and construct them. A new disc-golf course would greatly complement our other excellent recreational amenities, especially our destination skateboard parks, to which world-class athletes have already flown for the singular purpose of using.

Most Disc Golf courses are wheelchair friendly, while injuries are seldom. The receptacle baskets are designed, so you can easily move them out of the way when multipurpose field needs arise. The baskets also lock down onto non-protruding metal bases to prevent theft. You can even shift the poles into different positions to avert soil erosion and to make the courses more interesting. Seeing that this sport attracts users of all ages, our abundance of public lands, should offer plenty of options for courses where kids in their single digits could share lighthearted smiles, alongside easygoing Idaho old-timers.

A few years ago, some outdoor disc fans cobbled together a makeshift course up Ohio Gulch. However, a Bureau of Land Management agent soon informed the players that they needed a permit to continue and the course was dismantled. It could be that a few bad apples here ruined a good thing, but I don't know the full story. For a while, there was talk of procuring a permit, with the BLM officer offering advice, but then those efforts seemed to float away. It would be interesting to hear from any readers linked with that course.

We local disc-golf-enthusiasts should be able to map out a handful of potential sites and then present our case to the relevant authorities. If the permit-issuing powers-that-be are indecisive, we could ask them to allow a demonstration course and then let the public use it for a season, before gathering more useful public input.

It would be nice so see us lay out some snowshoe disc-golf courses around South Idaho this winter. Perhaps we could start with a prototype in the wide-open area by Billy's Bridge. This would require taller poles, especially in years when local bees build higher nests in anticipation of heavy snows.

Other appealing sites that visionary disc golf aficionados have suggested for potential courses are:

The area upstream from Magic Reservoir

Picabo Desert near the lone water hazard

Between the two remote East Fork Campgrounds

Area by the new Woodside Park

Some of the airport sites not chosen for the new airport.

Near the Galena Lodge or Tornock yurts

By the Wildhorse Canyon campgrounds, working your way up to the secret waterfalls, with hole-18 behind the widest fall.

Pole Creek drainage, over by Smiley Creek

Frisbee disc golf courses have flourished in most areas, so why not here? Although I have not yet achieved a hole in one, I sometimes daydream that soonafter we christen a new course here, my friend Colt will witness me score my first Idaho Ace. Chances are though, that this will be flipped the other way around, as he once attained 17 under par, at Virginia’s challenging Burke Lake course.

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Footnote: Soonafter writing the above, I was able to get in contact with some authorities well versed in how permit processes for projects like this usually work. They reminded me, that a proposal like this in the SNRA (as with the recent Galena Cell Tower efforts) would likely run up against a great deal of bureaucratic red tape. Although, I was looking forward to using my multifaceted cell phone to keep score on a Billy’s Bridge snowshoe course; it probably makes more sense to kickoff a disc-golf project in a recreational area that is openly trying to attract more park-goers, such as Woodside’s brand new Keefer Park.

This sounds like an excellent place to begin shifting this idea past its long incubation stage. So stay tuned to this channel, for more disc golf news. And thanks again Sun Valley Online for your insightful poll!

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