The city of Eugene opened its first 18-hole disc golf course at Alton Baker Park just over a year ago and there has been a steady stream of nubby rubber discs flying ever since. Andrew Rich, the course’s operator, says that on a rainy day the course will see about 50 rounds of play, and on a sunny day those numbers shoot upward of 250.
Adding Alton Baker to Westmoreland, Dexter and Cottage Grove, there are now four courses in a 25-mile radius around Eugene.
But ask any disc golfer in the area and she’ll tell you there are still not enough courses and opportunities to play as the local population demands — a population that includes some of the best professional disc golfers in the country: Dustin Keegan and Chris Becker, both of whom will play at the Professional Disc Golf World Championships in Portland come August.
To catch up with demand, local huckers have several plans in the mix:
Hitting the Lynx
This Memorial Day weekend Cottage Grove is hosting one of the largest disc golf tournaments the area has seen. Presented by McShane’s, The Jackalope Lounge and Flying Squirrel, the Lynx tournament takes place Saturday, May 24, at the National Regional Park 18-hole disc golf course (known as “The Grove” among disc golfers), with 18 holes being hosted Sunday morning at Middlefield Golf Course (a traditional golf course).
“That’s an 11,500-foot par 70,” Lynx Director Warren Hollinshead says. “So essentially, two Dexters in one course.” To put that in perspective, Dexter is already considered a large 18-hole course.
Hollinshead is vice president of the Eugene Disc Golf Club, which has about 300 members. Last summer he also served as the first journalism intern for the Professional Disc Golf Association at its headquarters in Georgia, and he’s one of the founders of the Oregon Collegiate Association, which houses a league of teams from nine universities and community colleges around the state. Hollinshead has signed up just shy of 80 players for The Lynx, including people flying in from West Virginia, Alabama, California and Washington.
“We’re throwing discs on big huge beautiful fairways,” he says. “We couldn’t be happier about it.” Hollinshead, who has visited and played on courses nationwide, adds that Cottage Grove has been very accommodating — in fact, it was Cottage Grove City Manager Richard Meyers who suggested they add Middlefield to the playing grounds.
“The city of Cottage Grove has been hands down one of the best,” Hollinshead says. “I’ve never worked with a city and I’ve never worked with officials from a city that are gung-ho in helping a community grow events like this.”
Hollinshead, who hopes to make The Lynx an annual destination event, encourages people to come watch the tournament, which runs all day Saturday, May 24, and 8:30 am to 2 pm Sunday. For more information, visit wkly.ws/1qy.
West of Fern Ridge Lake in Noti, Ore., Camp Serene is known mostly as home to the Lutheran Retreat. While the site will continue hosting the retreat for two weeks every summer, the remainder of the year Camp Serene will become a sort of disc golf paradise destination, with an 18-hole course, cabins, a chow hall and space for tent camping. Site owner James Morse, who lives there with his family, is also a disc golfer.
“It sits right on the Long Tom River in Noti,” says Ian Goldberg, president of the Eugene Disc Golf Club. “They’re basically halfway done. They have a fully functional 18-hole course there but only nine of the baskets are permanent.”
Goldberg says the EDGC is still raising money to cement the remaining nine baskets. The Ship Presents, a local group that puts on fundraising parties annually for different causes, will host a party for the EDGC in September to raise the remaining funds. Last year, The Ship selected Tim Long, owner of Eugene Jeans and an avid disc golfer, to help raise money for his cancer treatment.
The course’s unfinished state hasn’t stopped players from using it. The EDGC spent the winter prepping the grounds and Goldberg says they’ve already hosted fundraisers there, including one for the UO disc golf team.
For those looking to play the course at Camp Serene, a round will cost $3. Goldberg advises calling ahead to make sure someone is on site.
For more information, visit campserene.org
On Stewart Pond
In early 2013, just as the pay-to-play Alton Baker course was taking off, Eugene’s disc golf community started pushing hard for another site: Stewart Pond.
“The Bureau of Land Management owns a bunch of land over by Stewart Pond,” Goldberg says. “They had a period when they were accepting input from the community and we bombarded them. They were blown away.”
The site, a wintering area for migrant waterfowl and once home to a homeless camp, has been primed for a free-to-play 18-hole disc golf course. The Stewart Pond grounds are shaped like a 200-acre footprint, and the course would be a “blue” level course occupying about 30 acres of non-wetlands land on the southeast corner, "designed with protection of existing vegetation, erosion control and mitigation of any impacts as a primary factor," says EDGC officer-at-large Matt Benotsch, who has been working with the BLM on the site for over two years.
“We’re in a position now where we’ll have enough money in our coffers by this fall where we can just buy all the baskets,” Goldberg says. “The minute they say we can do it, we’re just going to buy 18 baskets. We’re chomping at the bit.”
Hollinshead adds that the BLM has been supportive, but they are still trying to hammer out a plan for the east side of the site, which is more marshland.
“It’s on hold. We’ve pretty much got the approval and nobody sees an issue with disc golf going in there,” Hollinshead says. But, he adds, “We don’t want to rush. We’re trying to build a good course.”
Recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management Wade Judy says that they are about four to six months away from a decision about a disc golf course on the Stewart Pond site. “We are hopeful and positive that that’s going to be happening but it still has to go through the resource management process,” Judy says.
There are murmurs of more area courses opening in the future; Willamalane’s Clearwater Park Master Plan includes a nine-hole disc golf course. “We do not have a timeline or funding dedicated to the project yet, and when it does get developed, it will be on a trial basis so that we can evaluate it before we put in anything permanent,” Willamalane landscape architect Nicole Ankeny tells EW via email.