1/18/2013 12:01:00 AM HOPIN' for aces: New disc golf course opens at Watson Lake
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier Members of the Prescott Disc Golf Club – from left, Rob Israel, Tyler Campbell and Jeff McReynolds – assemble a disc golf basket on the new course at Watson Lake park in Prescott Tuesday afternoon.
This will be Prescott’s first official disc golf course.
Courtesy photo At left, a sign provides information about the disc golf course.
PRESCOTT - With the frozen expanse of Watson Lake serving as a backdrop Thursday, a half-dozen disc golfers made their way from basket to basket at the City of Prescott's new course.
They were obviously enjoying the novel experience of having an official course, complete with metal baskets and directional signs, to practice their hobby.
"I like the great views," 21-year-old Will Cacek said, gesturing toward the lake. "And I like being out in the open, and the fact that there's baskets."
Cacek and others in his group pointed out that they have been trying for years to get a disc golf course established in Prescott. Although several unofficial courses exist in the forest, they said, this week's opening of the Watson Lake course marks the community's first official site.
Since the installation of baskets this past week, Tyler Campbell, 24, said he has been out at the course a number of times. Most days, he and his friends play two rounds on the nine-hole course.
Campbell lists a number of advantages to the sport: "It's really cheap to get into, and anybody can do it."
In addition, he said, "It's really good exercise." Playing the course involves walking the mile-long route, and throwing plastic discs toward the baskets. And because most participants like playing at least 18 holes, Campbell said the amount of exercise is often multiplied.
Prescott Parks and Recreation Director Joe Baynes said disc golf enthusiasts have long been pushing for a city course.
"Since I've come on as director, a lot of people have approached me," Baynes said. "I get calls regularly."
In early 2012, a group of supporters approached the Prescott City Council about building an 18-hole course at Goldwater Lake. That plan faced obstacles, however, and the group ended up scaling down its plans to a nine-hole course, and targeted Watson Lake instead.
Rob Israel of the Prescott Disc Golf Club pointed out that volunteer labor and private donations helped to make the project happen.
About a dozen volunteers from the Prescott Disc Golf Club turned out to help with the basket installation, Israel said. City Parks and Recreation staffers were on hand to oversee the work and to provide equipment. The project also had help from the local community service/restitution program.
The course officially opened this week, after the club got the rules and sponsor signs up.
Israel credits Custom Sticker Makers, Fann Contracting, and graphic designer Gregg Payne with donating materials and services - all of which went toward the "in kind" contributions that helped to match the city's share of the cost.
Baynes explained that his Parks and Recreation budget includes a $15,000 line item for partnership projects. In September, he announced that the department would tap that fund to help with the start-up costs for the disc golf course.
In all, Baynes and Israel estimate that the city and the club each put in about $3,000 to cover the $6,000 cost of the course.
Everyone involved appeared to agree that the end product was worth the effort.
"It's awesome," Israel said of the course. "The baskets blend right in; most people won't even notice them."
Baynes said the course would be a "low-impact use" that would add to the options at the Watson Lake Park. Other than the baskets and tee boxes, the course consists of natural terrain.
Israel and other enthusiasts predict that the disc golfing site will attract plenty of players, both locally and from out of the area. "We're sure to get a lot of players from Phoenix and Cottonwood," he said.
Plans for a grand opening still are in the works, Israel said. The Prescott Disc Golf Club organizes its events on a Facebook page.
The new course is located on vacant land near Watson Lake's boat ramp off Highway 89. The city charges a $2-per-day fee to park at the lake, except on Wednesdays, when parking is free.
Club members urge all players to sign in at the kiosk located at the first hole near the parking lot. Signing in will let the city know the level of interest in the sport, they say.