Disc golf course open in Murphys

After tireless work by community members, an 18-hole disc golf course is open to the public at Feeney Park in Murphys.

“It’s a fairly inexpensive sport that’s really fun,” said Rocky Bridges of Love Creek. “It’s about getting outdoors and enjoying the sun.”

Bridges has been playing one form or another of disc golf since the 1970s, and has an 18-hole course on his property on Love Creek Road near Avery, which is famous for Sunday afternoon games.

In the wintertime that course is snowed in, and Bridges said he always thought it would be a great asset to the community to have a course in Murphys.

“Rocky was the driving force behind the vision of getting the course set up, getting the approvals, attending meetings and so on,” wrote Bob Rynd of Murphys. “We would not be playing disc golf in Murphys had it not been for Rocky.”

While Bridges said he did quite a bit of leg work, he credits the idea of the course to his son Josh and stressed the importance of the energy and countless volunteer hours put in by the Love Creek Disc Golf Assholiation.

“Josh mentioned it to John Yost when he was a trustee down here,” Bridges said. “He also did the first community fundraiser.”

From the get-go, the Feeney Park Board showed strong support for the

course, however the Vallecito Union School District, which owns half the property, was another story.

“They had a lot of concerns about bringing more people in around the kids and protecting them,” Bridges said.

Some statements made by school district board members evoked indignation among the disc golf community, Bridges said.

Despite facing significant opposition in negotiations with the school board, Bridges and others worked out an agreement and construction of the course began last year using money donated by community sponsors. Bridges said more than 30 volunteers showed up for two work days.

“It has been an all-volunteer effort, with work parties to lay the tee boxes and install the baskets,” Rynd said.

On July 21, volunteers finished installing the nine baskets and on Aug. 18, nine tone poles were installed.

Businesses sponsoring the first nine baskets installed are: Snowshoe Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Adventure Co., Arnold Ace Home Center, Outdoor Adventure River Specialists, Pain Management Center, Berning Glass, Boyle Macdonald Wines, Scott Galla Construction and Firewood and Grounds restaurants.

Each sponsor will soon have its own tee sign. Bridges is in the process of getting sponsors to raise money to replace the tone poles with an additional nine baskets.

Why people play disc golf varies, but it’s pretty clear most people enjoy getting outside, developing friendships and challenging themselves.

After tireless work by community members, an 18-hole disc golf course is open to the public at Feeney Park in Murphys.

“It’s a fairly inexpensive sport that’s really fun,” said Rocky Bridges of Love Creek. “It’s about getting outdoors and enjoying the sun.”

Bridges has been playing one form or another of disc golf since the 1970s, and has an 18-hole course on his property on Love Creek Road near Avery, which is famous for Sunday afternoon games.

In the wintertime that course is snowed in, and Bridges said he always thought it would be a great asset to the community to have a course in Murphys.

“Rocky was the driving force behind the vision of getting the course set up, getting the approvals, attending meetings and so on,” wrote Bob Rynd of Murphys. “We would not be playing disc golf in Murphys had it not been for Rocky.”

While Bridges said he did quite a bit of leg work, he credits the idea of the course to his son Josh and stressed the importance of the energy and countless volunteer hours put in by the Love Creek Disc Golf Assholiation.

“Josh mentioned it to John Yost when he was a trustee down here,” Bridges said. “He also did the first community fundraiser.”

From the get-go, the Feeney Park Board showed strong support for the

course, however the Vallecito Union School District, which owns half the property, was another story.

“They had a lot of concerns about bringing more people in around the kids and protecting them,” Bridges said.

Some statements made by school district board members evoked indignation among the disc golf community, Bridges said.

Despite facing significant opposition in negotiations with the school board, Bridges and others worked out an agreement and construction of the course began last year using money donated by community sponsors. Bridges said more than 30 volunteers showed up for two work days.

“It has been an all-volunteer effort, with work parties to lay the tee boxes and install the baskets,” Rynd said.

On July 21, volunteers finished installing the nine baskets and on Aug. 18, nine tone poles were installed.

Businesses sponsoring the first nine baskets installed are: Snowshoe Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Adventure Co., Arnold Ace Home Center, Outdoor Adventure River Specialists, Pain Management Center, Berning Glass, Boyle Macdonald Wines, Scott Galla Construction and Firewood and Grounds restaurants.

Each sponsor will soon have its own tee sign. Bridges is in the process of getting sponsors to raise money to replace the tone poles with an additional nine baskets.

Why people play disc golf varies, but it’s pretty clear most people enjoy getting outside, developing friendships and challenging themselves.

“It’s a nice walk,” said Rodger Orman of Murphys.

“I enjoy the challenge of making a good shot, the walk outside with my dog and the camaraderie of meeting new people,” Rynd said.

“Outdoor recreation is healthy for everybody,” said Gabriel Acosta of Forest Meadows. “It’s also a personal challenge.”

“It’s good exercise and it’s great to be outdoors,” Gabriel Bridges of Love Creek said.

“I would have to say the most enjoyable aspect of disc golf is the people you meet and get to know while playing a round of golf,” said Michael Stewart of Arnold. “Disc golf is a great time out from the daily grind – fresh air, exercise and good people. Not to mention that anyone can play. All you need is a disc and a tone pole or basket. Unlike ball golf, there are no green fees or expensive equipment to buy. We even have players with strollers and young ones. It’s fun for the whole family.”

In order to get a personal feel for the course, the Enterprise played a round of disc golf at Feeney last week. During the game, a wide variety of people were spotted soaking up the sunshine while enjoying the sport. Groups ranged from two retirement-age buddies to a father teaching his young son how to throw a disc.

What is disc golf anyway?

Calaveras County residents may have seen strange-looking metal baskets on polls appearing throughout the county and pondered this very question.

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, the sport, played regularly since the 1970s, is played much like traditional golf, but instead of a ball and clubs players use a flying disc. Many rules and terms are shared with “ball golf,” including the goal being to complete each hole, by landing the disk in the target, in the fewest number of strokes or throws.

A golf disc is thrown from a tee area to a target which is the “hole.” The hole can be one of a number of disc golf targets; the most common is called a Pole Hole; an elevated metal basket with chains hanging above it to catch the disc. Feeney Park’s targets are split between baskets and tone poles, which are propane tanks with their top cut off fastened atop a pole. When a disc strikes the tank, it makes a loud ringing sound.

“With the nine tone poles, Feeney Park disc golf members hand-painted the cans, each uniquely, which creates a real character for the course,” Rynd said.

As a player progresses down the fairway, he or she must make each consecutive shot from the spot where the previous throw has landed. The trees, shrubs, and terrain changes located in and around the fairways provide challenging obstacles for the golfer. Finally, the putt (short throw) lands in the basket and the hole is completed.

All holes on the course are par threes except for three par fours, Bridges said, adding the course has a par of 57 and the course record is 49.

Disc golf shares the same joys and frustrations of traditional golf, whether it’s sinking a long putt or hitting a tree halfway down the fairway.

That being said, there are some very important differences.

Disc golf rarely requires a greens fee, players won’t need to rent a cart, and will never get stuck with a bad tee time. It is designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages, male and female, regardless of economic status.

All a beginner player really needs is one disc to start playing, although experienced players recommend first-time players purchase three discs: distance driver, mid-range and putter. Professional quality discs can be purchased for less than $15 and many used discs are available for even less. Bringing a cloth bag to hold extra discs isn’t a bad idea. Those who play more often may invest in sturdier bags designed to hold many discs along with a drink or two.

Discs can be purchased locally at Sierra Nevada Adventure Company stores in Arnold and Murphys.

“We have a limited selection in Murphys,” a SNAC staff person said. “The lion’s share is in Arnold. There is growing interest in the sport. We’ve gone from carrying 20 discs to about 60 discs along with all the accessories – disc-catchers, bags and all kinds of stuff.”

The owners of SNAC, Shawn and Jill Seale, both play disc golf and SNAC sponsors a goal.

Feeney isn’t the only public course in the county. Players can visit a 27-hole course at Fiddleneck Recreation area at New Hogan Reservoir in Valley Springs or play an 18-hole course located near the entrance to Bear Valley Village, which is open seasonally.

To find out more about Feeney disc golf, call Rocky Bridges at 795-4809 or visit the facebook page. To find more about the sport of disc golf, visit pdga.com.

 Contact Joel Metzger at joel@calaverasenterprise.com

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