Disc golf course gets makeover

Published 6:38 am Friday, April 16, 2010

Like with any golf course, hole location is a key factor at Todd Park’s disc golf course.

That’s why a group of local disc golf enthusiasts are leading an effort to revamp the 27-hole course — a project that should be complete by the end of the weekend.

Nik Johnsen, 30, and Jason Linnett, 31, co-owners of Austin’s J & J Disc Golf Shop, have spearheaded the course makeover, but both said it has really been a group effort, with contributions coming from a number of local disc golfers.

The new plan for the park involves digging out six holes — which are essentially hanging baskets with chain links to catch incoming discs — and relocating them. To make the new holes a reality, six new concrete tee boxes are also needed. Those will be poured by Austin parks crew and should be complete by Friday.

Johnsen said the redesigned course will accomplish several things. For one, it will better incorporate trees into the field of play, making the course more challenging and fun for players. A lack of trees around certain holes popped up as an issue after last June’s tornado, which ravaged the park.

“Now, there are wide-open, easy, stupid shots,” Johnsen said. “We’re going to make it more fun to play.”

Added Linnett: “After I came out here (following the tornado), I said, ‘We’ve got to do something.’”

The redesign will also eliminate two of the northern-most holes near the junk yard, meaning less grass for city workers to mow. This will also make the course more efficient and walkable for players, Johnsen said.

Johnsen said the project will use up much of a $1,500 fund set up by local disc golfers. However, courtesy of a grant through the Minnesota Frisbee Association, $500 of that tab should be picked up. Most MFA grants are for $250, but Johnsen said special consideration was given to Todd Park because of the tornado damage.

“They just want to help courses around Minnesota,” he added.

Also offering a great deal of help with the project has been the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Johnsen said local disc golfers are responsible to pay for materials, but department crews will take care of the actual construction and renovation. And both Johnsen and Linnett were pleasantly surprised to learn Wednesday that the workers wanted to get the Todd Park job in this week — much earlier than the two expected.

“We thought they’d be doing it at the end of fall,” Johnsen said. “How awesome is this?”

Tom Graff, parks supervisor for the city, said he wanted to get started right away so the work could be out of the way before summer mowing, pool maintenance and other tasks start to make the department hectic.

“We got to get in and get this done,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, Graff joined Johnsen, Linnett and several other city parks workers as they walked the course and marked with spray paint the new hole locations and tee boxes.

To Johnsen and Linnett, this process was very important, because they each have ideal hole designs squarely in their heads. It also represented the culmination of a month’s worth of planning, which they said required two to three trips to Todd Park a week and many hours spent visualizing a potential new course.

With the project likely to start and end sooner than expected, the two should be able to unveil the new design well before the season’s first scheduled tournament on May 22. Long considered one of the better courses in the county, Todd Park should be even more popular this year, Johnsen said, and he expects upwards of 60 serious competitors for this event.

And both Johnsen and Linnett are excited to see it all unfold.

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” Linnett added.

Disc golf 101

The game is played just like regular golf, with players throwing Frisbees instead of hitting balls

A “hole” is finished when a player’s disc lands in the basket. Low scores are desired

More serious players use an assortment of discs for different shots, just as a regular golfer would use different clubs

Also like regular golf, there are some players who play professionally, with oversight from the Professional Disc Golf Association