County lake adds disc golf course as an attraction

It?s been a long time coming, but disc golf enthusiasts may want to know that Marion County Park and Lake is opening an 18-hole course starting Wednesday, free to everyone.

Superintendent Steve Hudson said the idea for a disc golf course was first discussed a couple of years ago.

?A gentleman interested in the sport donated a large amount of money for baskets,? he said. ?The baskets were purchased at the first of the summer and we just got them in.?

The baskets cost $6,000, he said. What was left over from that, along with some of the lake?s memorial donation fund, was used for digging the holes, installing the baskets and any other expenses needed to complete the course.

Hudson said no county tax money was used on the project.

A small amount of work remains, such as pouring concrete at the tee-off locations and around the baskets. But if people want to play, he said, the course is good to go.

The course is located beyond the south side of the lake office, he said, with the first hole starting on the dam and going to the southeast from there.

Hudson said maps of the course are available at the lake office, and discs will soon be available for rent for those wanting to try the sport.

?It?s been a lot of planning, designing and walking the course, but we didn?t have time to get things going on it until (mid-October),? he said.

?The lake was originally blueprinted for a nine-hole golf course near the same area of the disc golf course,? he said.

The course itself, Hudson said, includes elevation changes, challenging shots, long holes, short holes and some shooting across the water in a few places.

?Some of it is open range where the wind can affect shots, too,? he said.

Players could find holes 13 and 15 particularly challenging, he said, because both require clearing water hazards.

Hudson sees the course as another attraction for the park and lake.

?It is something to enjoy and it is a regulation course,? he said. ?Our (course) designer lives in Herington and he plays in tournaments and has done well.

?It?s my understanding that Emporia is hosting the world championships next year,? he added. ?In fact, it?s one of the premier courses around.?

Hudson said the designer is interested in bringing a couple of tournaments to the county?s lake course next year.

?Peabody has one in its park, near the ballfields and the (city administrator says it gets used quite a bit,? he said.

Hudson said he understands that Florence city officials are also looking into a disc golf course, too.

Hudson said he used to play the game, but doesn?t anymore.

?My right arm isn?t like it used to be,? he said.

The game requires different discs for different circumstances.

?Some are a bit heavier and some are smaller for putting,? he said. ?It?s like a golf bag full of golf clubs, but instead it?s discs.?

Tournaments generally offer age groups.

?There are senior divisions, beginners?it?s quite an up-and-coming thing,? Hudson added.

Similar to regular golf, the lower the score, the better achievement, he said.

?The target is the basket that has chains hanging off it. When the disc hits the chains, it stops the momentum and falls into the basket and the player scores.?

For more information about the course, call Hudson at 620-382-3240.Patty Decker / Free Press<p>Marion County Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson, standing near the 15th tee, points across a ravine toward the basket. The new course is ready for play, while a few minor details still need to be added.

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