VERNON - You’ve got your putting and your driving Frisbees, your heavy ones and your sleek, thin ones, and now fans of the popular sport of disc golf — and curious newcomers — will have a scenic, and best of all, free, course in Vernon to fling them on.
It’s all happening on a city-owned park on Cummins Road by the Lakers Clubhouse (just behind Marshall Fields). Vernon resident and avid disc golfer Inge Friesen has been working with the city to design and establish a nine hole route around the former golf course.
“The concept is free, family Frisbee fun,” Friesen says. “The idea is it’s a park where anyone can walk their dog or just come and enjoy the atmosphere and they can also play a bit of disc golf.”
The game involves trying to sink your disc into a basket from a designated spot along the course. Strokes are counted by the number of throws it takes you to reach the target. You might have to aim through trees, calculate the effect of the wind, or maneuver over elevation changes as you attempt to sink your disc.
The recreational activity has grown steadily since the early 2000s across the Thompson-Okanagan. Vernon has a loyal following of disc golfers and a private course in the Lavington area. The Kelowna Disc Golf Association is seeking out more land to build new courses. Kamloops has been a hotbed for disc golf for many years, having previously hosted the Canadian National Disc Golf Championships. Penticton has an 18 hole course and hopes to eventually attract tournaments to the area as well.
The new course on Cummins Road in Vernon probably isn’t big enough for tournaments, but it’s perfect for beginners and could pave the way for a larger, more challenging course in the future. Kendra Kryszak, a parks planner with the city, says the course should be operational by late summer or early fall, and could set the stage for a tournament-sized course.
“This is the starting point. If this flies and we get a lot of interest, we could possibly be looking at getting another one or moving this one to a bigger location,” Kryszak says.
The park’s ponds and wetland areas are also home to the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad, and setbacks have been used on the course to ensure those areas are not disturbed. An on-leash dog walking path will also be kept on the property, adding to the park’s multi-use draw.
Like conventional golf courses, the site is sure to attract touring disc golfers, but Friesen hopes it will also bring newcomers to the sport.
“You can totally geek out and have a fabulous disc bag with all the accoutrements, but you can also just use what we call a big lid, like an ultimate Frisbee. Any kind of Frisbee, just come out and fling it and enjoy your walk in the park,” Friesen says. “Anyone can play; if you can flick a towel at someone, you can throw a Frisbee.”
From families to seniors to students at nearby schools, she says anyone can have a lot of fun with a round of disc golf — and they can play it in any season.
“I think this is going to be a great start for building enthusiasm for the sport,” she says. “I’m looking forward to people trying it and seeing what it’s all about for themselves.”
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