Today’s post comes from John Etches, marketing specialist and disc golf enthusiast.
When I received the call about the possibility of a new disc golf course in 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 at Mikisew Provincial Park, who was looking for innovative ways to provide park visitors with more recreational options.
At Mikisew, there has been a nine-hole disc golf course in place since the mid-’80s, 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 like regular golf (and many say that it’s way 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 kids, adults, and serious disc golfers an additional challenge.
Luckily, there was an area of the park that had been designated for recreational development within the park’s management plan.
In discussions with Dave, I was tasked to walk the fine line between providing adventurous novices a venue to air out newfound skills while making the course interesting enough for more seasoned players.
Getting the lay of the land
My initial visit was in the fall of 2017; it took a few days out in the bush to assess whether or not the land base could accommodate a course.
After reading satellite images and a lot of bushwhacking, it was clear there was just enough area within the park’s development zone to install a good 18-hole course.
As I got to know the seven acre patch of bush better, I began understanding how to best use the existing forest clearings and openings. From the start, one of our big goals was to alter the natural landscape as little as possible.
My draft versions of the course steadily evolved into a layout that gave the course a good flow from start to finish.
These courses are much easier on the environment than traditional golf courses. They are basically a series of trails through the forest, and vast areas don’t need to be cleared to allow the high flight and low roll 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! As well, hole length is approximately a third of traditional golf holes, so a disc golf course can be installed within a much smaller area.
Ace for the course
The Mikisew course winds through beautiful spruce, cedar and balsam forest.
Comprised of moderately long holes averaging 70 m, the course plays perfectly for novices 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 tight and technical.
The course is lovely. A round of disc golf at Mikisew provides park visitors with an intimate experience on this northern landscape all while having tons of fun!
“With both the novice and intermediate courses now available, everyone can enjoy this great sport,” says Dave. “Beginners can play the short course, while more experienced players can be tested on 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 roll out of their tent in the morning, grab some campfire coffee and oatmeal, play a round on the park’s course, then head into town and play another course — all in the same day!
With the help of Innova Disc Golf, disc sets will be available at the park for both purchase and rental. The park is also planning “Disc Golf Days” that will feature 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, only three hours away 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 jangle of the chains as you sink a putt, you’ll be hooked for sure.