Story by Elisha Shumaker, EDN
Photos by Brandon Preo, EDN
One of Eugene’s most popular recreational past times, disc golf, is continuing to grow at exponential rates. Nationally, the sport has been seeing continual increases in participation of 15% annually, while more traditional activities, such as tennis and softball, are seeing steady declines in participants.
Eugene has become a hotbed of activity in the world of disc golf, with the University of Oregon’s disc golf team yielding the first ever women’s national champion in 2011, Maggie Drews. Maggie continues to play, post-matriculation, on a professional level. She also provides free instruction to groups through Eugene’s REI. Drews’ free clinics encourage individuals of all ages, and fitness and skill levels to get out, play, and become active. There is an abundant interest in the sport, and it is easy and inexpensive to begin playing recreationally. Through the clinics Maggie presents participants with an overview of basic throws, equipment, and rules, giving opportunities for all to work on developing their technique. Drews states that her biggest motivation in spreading her passion for disc golf is to see more women become involved in a sport that is currently male dominated. Since her graduation, Drews says U of O’s disc golf team no longer has a female competitor. She also mentioned the limited opportunities currently available for Eugene’s growing disc golf population.
Over the past 23 years, disc golfers in Eugene have been limited to a single nine-hole course located at Westmoreland Community Park, near 18th Ave & Chambers. With the expanding interest in this activity, disc golfers are finding that this location can no longer meet the high demand present in Eugene. The small course can handle approximately 40 players per hour, making the time to complete the nine holes about half an hour. Lately, however, with the growing interest by so many in the city, the course tends to back up to the extent that playing out a full game can stretch to over an hour. Disc golfer’s wishing to avoid this congestion or play a full 18-hole round must travel, with the nearest courses being in Cottage Grove or Dexter.
Dave Battaglia, Eugene’s Recreation Manager, says there is a need within the city for a centralized full 18-hole course, that would be easily accessible to all of the city’s inhabitants. The city’s recreation department has been considering the creation of such a course at Alton Baker Park. The course was tested over the duration of three separate dates this summer, attracting between 350 and 560 golfers each day. The proposed course at Alton Baker Park would be semi-permanent, in that the existing plan allows for a five year trial period. The course also has built-in flexibility to accommodate the many other activities that find their home in the park, as well as any ecological changes that may present themselves in the future.
If the proposal for the new course is passed, it is slated to be established within the next year. In contrast to the city’s existing course, the Alton Baker course would be manned by a concessionaire, with nominal fees to play, which cover the costs of installation, operation, and maintenance. Battaglia stated that he anticipates crowds of 100 to 200 golfers per day, should the course’s development be completed.
For more information on disc golf in Eugene, check out these four to explore: