Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Some council members like disc golf park idea

by Chris Schultz

January 10, 2013

Disc golf may be catching on with Lake Geneva City Council members.

It’s unknown how many on the council have actually tossed discs on a disc golf course. But on Monday, council members, meeting as the Lake Geneva City Council Committee of the Whole, tossed the concept back to the Lake Geneva Board of Park Commissioners, with direction that the board develop a request for proposal to design and construct a course on 34 acres of city land that was once part of the Hillmoor Golf Course.

The idea was brought to the committee of the whole by the park board.

Terry Miller of Pewaukee, Wisconsin state coordinator for the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA), told the committee of the whole that an 18-hole disc golf course could be installed at the north end of the former Hillmoor property, which is adjacent to Dunn Field and the city skate park.

He had made a similar presentation to the park board on Jan. 2 at the invitation of Doug Skates, park board president. Miller said the hilly, tree-lined area is perfect for a disc golf course. That the White River flows through the property is not a problem, he added.

He said installation of a new course would take about a day, provided the city could find about a dozen dedicated volunteers.

Council members agreed that finding volunteer help would be important for setting up a disc golf course.

“If we can’t get a dozen volunteers together, we’re DOA,” said Alderwoman Sarah Hill.

Miller said the sport is still under the radar, but it’s growing fast. And Wisconsin is one of the leading states in the growth of the sport.

Since 1975, Wisconsin has opened 216 disc golf courses recognized by the Professional Disc Golf Association, the national organization for the sport. Most are free to play, charging no greens fees, Miller said.

According to a PDGA website, two of those courses are in Walworth County, one at the University Wisconsin - Whitewater and the other in East Troy. Fontana also has two disc golf courses, but they are not listed on the PDGA map.

There are some other disc golf sites located across the border, but Miller said many of the courses in Illinois are not professionally-designed.

“When someone comes to this area, they have a choice between no disc golf or bad disc golf,” Miller said.

Miller said that a well-designed disc golf course may co-exist with a dog park, which the park board also wants to locate on the 34 acres that was formerly a part of Hillmoor.

Proper and safe design would make sure that the dogs didn’t interfere with the discs and the discs would not bother the dogs and their owners, he said.

Alderwoman Arleen Krohn and Alderman Don Tolar said they wanted to know the cost of the proposed course before they would vote for it as part of the council.

They also wanted to know where the money to pay for the course would come from.

Alderman Alan Kupsik, who sits on the park commission, said the funds might come from the park impact fees, the park budget or through TIF district funds.

Although costs weren’t discussed during the committee of the whole, Miller told the park board that, depending on the type of equipment, design and amenities, a professionally-designed 18-hole course might cost between $8,000 and $30,000.

A really good course can be built for about $20,000, especially if volunteers did the installation, Miller said. It would cost about $2,000 to professionally design the course, he said.

The council members returned the proposal to the park commission, which is now working on a request for proposal to design the course.

Sometimes called Frisbee golf, after the original plastic throwing disc patented by the Wham-O toy company, Miller said the disc golf people tend to avoid the “F-word.”

Companies now make throwing discs designed especially for disc golf.

And while using a bona fide Frisbee to play the game is not out of the question, Miller said it would be frustrating.

(It should be noted, however, that the Wham-O website touts Frisbee golf discs with a practice basket.)

Disc golf is played much like traditional golf, except that players use plastic flying discs rather than clubs and balls. The courses are about one-third the size of traditional golf courses.

The sport owes much to traditional golf, with discs even being identified as drivers, irons and putters, depending on their weight and flight dynamics, Miller said.

The disc is thrown from a tee area to a target, which is designated the “hole.” Usually the target is a pole-mounted metal basket.

The object is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws, or strokes.

Trees, changes in terrain and water hazards on the disc course provide challenges for the disc golfer, much as the sand traps, roughs, trees and ponds do for the traditional golfer.

In addition to being the state coordinator for the sport, Miller is an active professional disc golfer.

He is also owner of Lifetime Disc Sports LLC, a company that organizes disc golf events, sells disc golf merchandise and designs disc golf courses.