Today’s post comes from John Etches, marketing specialist and disc golf enthusiast.
When I got the call about the possibility of a new disc golf course at one of our parks, I shook my head in disbelief!
As an avid disc golfer, could this be a dream come true?
The call came from Dave Ward, superintendent of Mikisew Provincial Park, who was looking for innovative ways to provide park visitors with more recreational options.
A nine-hole disc golf course has existed in Mikisew since the mid-1980s, with holes only 15 to 18 m long. It served well for beginners and has become very popular over the years.
Disc golf is played just like “ball” golf, but with flying discs similar to “frisbees.”
If you can throw a baseball, you can play disc golf.
The discs are thrown towards special targets that catch them. Disc golf is played and scored exactly the same as regular golf (and many say it’s much more fun!).
Building on the success of the park’s short course, Dave recognized the opportunity to install a full-scale 18-hole course, giving older children, adults and serious disc golfers an additional challenge.
Fortunately, there was an area of the park that had been designated for recreational development within the park management plan.
In conversations with Dave, I was tasked with walking the fine line between giving adventurous beginners a place to air out their new skills while also making the course interesting enough for more experienced players.
Knowing the lay of the land
My initial visit was in the fall of 2017; It took a few days in the bush to evaluate whether the land base could host a course.
After reading satellite images and many walks, it became clear that there was enough area within the park’s development zone to install a good 18-hole course.
As I met the seven As I improved the one-acre bush plot, I began to understand how to best utilize the existing clearings and woodland clearings. From the beginning, one of our main objectives was to alter the natural landscape as little as possible.
My draft versions of the course steadily evolved into a design that gave the course a good flow from start to finish.
These courses are much more environmentally friendly than traditional golf courses. They are basically a series of trails through the forest, and there is no need to clear large areas to allow for high flight and low rolling of the ball.
Controlling the flight of the discs around obstacles is half the fun, so the more variation in the landscape and vegetation, the better! Additionally, the length of the holes is approximately one-third that of traditional golf holes, so a disc golf course can be installed in a much smaller area.
Ace for the course
The Mikisew tour winds through beautiful forests of spruce, cedar and balsam.
Made up of moderately long holes averaging 70m, the course is perfect for beginners looking for a challenge and intermediate players looking to test their skills.
Although the holes are not long, more advanced players will still find them challenging as the fairways are narrow and technical.
The course is beautiful. A round of disc golf at Mikisew gives park visitors an intimate experience in this northern landscape while having tons of fun!
“Now that beginner and intermediate courses are available, everyone can enjoy this great sport,” says Dave. “Beginners can play the short course, while more experienced players can try their hand at the 18-hole course… it’s great for the whole family.”
A disc golfer’s dream
Coincidentally, there is another fabulous course in South River, just 15 minutes from Mikisew.
That means campers can leave their tent in the morning, grab some coffee and oatmeal over the campfire, play a round on the park’s course, and then head into town and play on another course, all on the same course! day!
With the help of Innova Disc Golf, disc games will be available at the park for both purchase and rental. The park is also planning “Disc Golf Days” that will include guided tours of the course and disc golf instruction for park visitors.
Keep an eye on Mikisew’s events page for updates.
Give it a spin this summer!
A perfect disc golf weekend, just three hours from Toronto!
Mikisew Provincial Park is located just off the Highway 11 corridor between Huntsville and North Bay.
I offer a final word of warning: disc golf is highly addictive! Once you hear the chains jingling as you sink a putt, you’re sure to be hooked.