Experienced disc golfers found the challenge of Ottawa’s newest course intriguing.
Players gathered Wednesday night to test their skills in a trial run of the proposed disc golf course in Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St., Ottawa. D.J. Welsh, City of Ottawa parks superintendent and one of the architects of the course, heard nothing but positive reviews from the players, he said.
“Everyone that I was talking to said they really enjoyed the course and could not wait for it to be put in so they could come back and play it,” he said. “It is such a different course than what Kanza Park is. It is more technical which is exactly what we were trying for.”
The course was designed for both competitive and recreational players, Welsh said.
“There are holes that are set up to be more beginner-friendly and holes that will challenge even the best players,” he said. “There are a mixture between the easy ones and the more difficult ones. Some of them are straight forward. Some of them dogleg hard one direction or another. Some of them are more technical that you may not even be able to see the basket [from the tee box]. You have to go around the trees.”
Cody Goyer, Pomona, who has played courses throughout the nation, said the new course would be one of his favorites, and it ranked up there with courses he played in Austin, Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama.
“A lot of it is the scenery I like,” Goyer, who plays about five times a week, said. “It is a lot more challenging than Kanza Park.”
Scott Mayes, Ottawa, a self-proclaimed recreational player, said the Forest Park layout provides a bit of intrigue for the players.
“It has some different looks,” Mayes said. “I am not used to so much low overhead [from the trees]. It is going to force me to learn a roller shot. I like courses that give you interesting new looks.”
Dennis Nowatzke, Ottawa, who plays regularly at Kanza Park and other nearby courses, said the trees, the dog park and other obstacles enhance the strategic part of the game.
“You have to be pretty technically proficient,” he said. “It reminds me of a course I played in Olathe one time. It had a section of trees and the fairways were very narrow. Around the dog park was a little more challenging.”
The setting gives it a different feel, Nowatzke said.
“It is nice this time of day when the sun starts setting and a little bit of a breeze and trees all around,” he said.
Welsh said 39 players turned in scorecards during the trial round.
“I think we accomplished our goal,” he said. “We had a great turnout. It looks like it is going to be a great addition. We are excited.”
Welsh hopes to have the course permanently in place by the end of July, he said.
“The baskets are already ordered,” Welsh said. “After [Wednesday], if we don’t have many bugs to work out, it will not be long. We wanted to make sure everybody is safe in the beginning so we don’t run into any type of avoidable accident. Initially we will go with the grass pads the way they are now.”
There are plans to have concrete pads that measure about five feet long, but Welsh said funds will have to be raised to add that feature.
Welsh, who is a member of the Ottawa Play Task Force and the newly formed Kanza Disc Golf Club, said the Forest Park course came together quickly. Welch approached the Play Task Force with the idea, and he received 100 percent approval. He said the disc golf club also was behind it.
“From there, it snowballed,” he said. “All 18 holes have been sold and spoken for. We had great support from our community. Within a couple of months, we were playing the course.”
All 18 hole sponsorships were sold for $400 each to area businesses, clubs and individuals to raise the funds for the equipment.
“It was unbelievable,” Welsh said about the community support. “I am extremely happy with how fast it all came together. I would have been happy to have it at the end of the year. We are talking about having it permanent already.”
The formation of the disc golf club this spring helped provide a springboard for the second course, as well as potential improvements to the Kanza Park course, built in 2006. Welsh said the goal of the club is to replace the tee pads and baskets in Kanza Park.
Welsh teamed with an experienced disc golf course architect to design the Forest Park course. Welsh said Rob Martin, Maverick Disc Golf, Lawrence, provided his design expertise. The two actually walked the park in December when trees had lost their leaves, Welsh said.
“It looked so much different now than it did then,” Welsh said. “We had to imagine what it would look like.”
Welsh said they wanted the course to be different than Kanza Park, which covers about 6,800 feet.
“It is going to be shorter than what Kanza is,” Welsh said. “Kanza is par 62, while Forest Park is par 54. Kanza Park is wide open. A lot of the differences is the large trees we have here.”
He said most players did not have expectations about the new course, before the trial Wednesday night, because designers kept the nuances a secret and wanted disc golfers to come and try the course for themselves.
A FRIENDLY GAME
Goyer said disc golf is an activity he uses to get away and relax.
“It gives me something to clear my mind and take my mind off of what is going on in the world,” Goyer said. “It is a great way to spend time with family and a great way to exercise.”
Mayes said the atmosphere around disc golf can be soothing.
“It is more about getting out in nature, [enjoying] the activity and it’s relaxing,” he said.
Mayes added it is a fun game to play, no matter the format or the players’ abilities.
Welsh said disc golf is an activity for everybody.
“It can definitely be any kind of game you want it to be,” he said. “It can be recreational, going out and hanging out with friends, or we had a guy that plays professionally here [Wednesday] night.”
Players from Olathe, Gardner, Garnett, and Lawrence participated in the trial run, Welsh said.
“We are hoping this one is on their list of the places they want to come [and play],” Welsh said. “The camaraderie is there no matter where you go or who you are playing with.”