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Pagosa makes a mark in the disc golf world

Staff Writer

SUN photo/Melissa Stedman Pagosa Disc Golf Club member Andy Warden shows off his skills during an evening of competition at the Reservoir Hill Disc Golf Course. With new signage, disc golfers can challenge themselves on the alternate boxes creating the “Raven” course.

SUN photo/Melissa Stedman
Pagosa Disc Golf Club member Andy Warden shows off his skills during an evening of competition at the Reservoir Hill Disc Golf Course. With new signage, disc golfers can challenge themselves on the alternate boxes creating the “Raven” course.

In 2009, the Pagosa Springs Disc Golf Club received permission to construct a nine-hole disc golf course on Reservoir Hill.

Not soon after, due to the influx of visitors and locals enjoying the new entertainment, Archuleta County provided 1A funding to the club, allowing it to formalize the course as well expand it to an 18-hole course.

Since then, the disc golf scene in Pagosa has flourished. Visitors from across the state have visited Pagosa Springs and challenged themselves on the town’s course.

The Reservoir Hill course has been called one of the top 10 disc golf courses in Colorado and one of the best in the southwest.

“We are proud of that,” said Mat deGraaf of the PDGC. “We have put a lot of work in to that. It deserves the recognition that it has.”

Now locals and visitors will have a chance to challenge themselves even more while playing on the updated Reservoir Hill course, as well as to enjoy the new Cloman Park course as they show off their disc golf moves.

Reservoir Hill

The PDGC began building alternative boxes for the Reservoir Hill course a few years ago. The purpose is to have 36 tee boxes utilizing the 18 already standing baskets. With the alternative boxes, the same baskets are used, however, the teebox is in a different location. This allows for a more difficult course for players looking to challenge themselves during the game, as well as relieving congestion.

Recently, the PDGC has signed the teeboxes, providing players with distances and course layouts. The new signs add variety to the course as well as make the course more official.

Reservoir Hill offers more topographical changes on the course than a player experiences at Cloman Park. It is a technical course, with gains and losses in elevations.

According to deGraaf, it, “requires a good bag of tricks.

“We intentionally designed it to be more on the advanced side,” he said. “The caliber of players that have learned to play at Reservoir Hill have said that other courses were too easy. Reservoir Hill has more of a technical style that employs creativity.”

The standard, or recreational course at Reservoir Hill has been dubbed “The Eagle.” The alternate boxes are named “The Raven” — a more advanced addition to the course.

Cloman Park

This summer, the PDGC will order new baskets for the Cloman Park course.

The Cloman course will include 18 standard boxes as well as 18 alternative boxes.

Cloman is a much flatter, open course than the one on Reservoir Hill, but the distances involved will be greater. While it will be less technical, it will require more power.

“Part of what comes in is the technology with discs,” deGraaf said, “Ten years ago, the average person couldn’t throw a disc four hundred feet; however, now it’s not uncommon for people to reach those distances. We are making a long course, anticipating technology to evolve. We don’t want it to be outdated. A decade ago, the technology was different. We are looking to the future and building the course that way.

“With the space provided, it is wonderful. When you are designing a course, you have to work around obstacles for trails and facilities. Cloman is an open palette. We can paint as we desire. It is a unique opportunity to create the course that we want. That is what will set the standard, allowing Pagosa to be a disc golf destination.”

Due to a tree thinning project in Cloman Park, the time for finishing the course has been delayed. At present, the club is working to have the course open by the end of summer or by early fall.

Donations and community

Both the Reservoir Hill course and the expansion for the Cloman Park course have been supported through fund-raising opportunities by the PDGC.

This past winter, the Town Tourism Committee (TTC) granted the PGDC $4,900 for the Reservoir Hill signage as well as for Cloman course baskets. The remainder of the funds have been acquired through fund-raising efforts in the community and with individual donors.

Main sponsors include Good Earth Meds. Donations were also made by Pagosa Outside, DSP Pizza, Kip’s Cantina, Wiley Merfeld, Dave Bellina, Mat and Jamie deGraaf, Musgrove Fine Woodworking, Friends of the Upper San Juan, Terry’s Ace Hardware and PDGC member dues.

“Its been overwhelming, but we have done a lot in the past four years and we hope to do a lot more. And the local businesses have been great,” deGraaf said.

Residents and visitors can purchase donation discs at Pagosa Outside. Each year, the PDGC prints up a different disc model. This year, the club has printed up the Tee-Bird disc from Innova. Sales of these donation discs provides funds to the club, and all of the proceeds go to the purchase of items such as new signs and baskets.

According to Toby Rohwer, since the addition of the course on Reservoir Hill, visitor and community involvement in the game has expanded.

“It has absolutely blown up,” he said, “It’s awesome. Dave and Mat talked me into stocking discs (at Pagosa Outside) and it was something I had never done before. It’s been very cool. For the past four years, every year, we have had to double our inventory. We are moving a lot of disc inventory. It’s pretty cool.”

Pagosa Springs High School students have also become involved in the game through disc golf classes and programs. The PDGC website was built as an IT class project at the high school. All of the work on the website has been completed by students and the project wil continue to evolve as the class continues.

The future of disc golf

According to deGraaf, both the Cloman and Reservoir Hill courses could be potential world-class sites. With their elevations and the local climate, they are both very good candidates to become sanctioned tournament sites, which puts them in the running to host large, national tournaments.

“That is the big driver,” deGraaf said, “to get the second course at Cloman and to be able to host multi-day events. One course one day, another course a second day. We could do that in July, which is a great time of year here. There isn’t a lot of pro play in July and early August that can offer that. A representative from the Disc Golf Association came out to see what we were doing and was thrilled about what was seen at Reservoir Hill. He wanted to lend a hand and thought it was a great direction that we were moving in.”

At present, the club hosts two annual tournaments on Reservoir Hill. The entry money goes to prize purses and disc golf and promotional items.

“It is my contribution to the community,” deGraaf said, “People visit here because of these amenities. This town has so much to offer, but little to offer for kids. Families vacation here and there is the river, which is great, but disc golf offers a great option — low-cost hours of free entertainment where kids can be outside interacting with nature.

“Reservoir Hill is downtown and convenient, Cloman Park is uptown and will provide an outlet for the bulk of Pagosa residents. Kids in the community are one of our main focuses as well as the visitors. A game of disc golf is a great way to offer that.

“It’s not just about playing the game, it’s about helping the community and everyone involved.”

PDGC always welcomes donations. To donate, individuals can contact the club via Facebook or through the website at www.pagosadiscgolfclub.com.

Melissa.Stedman@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on June 27, 2013.