The inaugural tournament for the recently completely 18-hole disc golf at Wycliffe Park will take place on Saturday, October 14.
The course itself is the passion-project of primarily two people, Ben Loggains and Fraser Bowden.
The latter chaperoned Townsman reporter and amateur disc golf enthusiast Paul Rodgers around the new course, showing him his favourite holes, telling him all about the tournament and even providing some pointers on how to add some yards to his drive.
“The goal here was really to take it to the next level — longer holes, more use of elevation; just a more challenging course that really forces you to throw different shots and have different styles of play,” Bowden explained.
Bowden, an emergency doctor at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, moved to Cranbrook in 2008 after finishing his residency in Lethbridge. As if creating an 18-hole course, fit to host a Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) sanctioned tournament, wasn’t enough, he is also one of the founding owners of the ARQ Mountain Centre.
“My feeling is like if this is going to be home for us let’s do what we can to make it into the community we want it to be,” said Bowden.
“So that’s why I felt like the climbing wall is important, as somewhere where the community can sort of rally and this is just another good outdoor, recreational activity that’s free for people, easily accessible and it’s a beautiful spot.”
The project initially got moving two years ago when he put in a proposal to RDEK to build a course in Wycliffe. After it was approved, they started coming out in the summer of 2016 to pick must-have areas for holes and started building around them.
They started by putting in temporary posts, as they did not have the funding for the baskets (the metallic, chained disc equivalent of the golf hole).
They applied to Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) for funding and were declined in 2016, but got it this year. Along with CBT they got funding from the RDEK, Nelson and Kimberley areas, and sponsorships from local businesses. They purchased the top of the line Innova DISCatcher 28s — perhaps the best basket money can buy.
Bowden estimates that the total cost for the course is between $12,000 and $13,000.
“So in terms of infrastructure for a community it’s a relatively cheap recreational infrastructure project,” he said.“Like it’s way cheaper than a set of tennis courts and accessible to more people, gets people out in beautiful spots like this.”
He explained that the potential of the course to draw more people to Wycliffe was a big driving force for them being approved to build there.
“Because Wycliffe is such a beautiful park but just doesn’t get nearly the user-ship that it should.”
Financial cost aside, Bowden figures he and Loggains have put in hundreds of hours of their own time and energy into building the course, much to the chagrin of Bowden’s significant other.
“We’ve spent a lot of time out here. Hundreds of hours. My wife could probably tell you,” he said with a chuckle. “She hates disc golf now more than ever. With how much time I’ve spent out here working on the course.”
The tournament check in is between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. Saturday, October 14 with the first round at 10:00 a.m. There will be a fundraiser barbecue between rounds. Cost to enter is $55 for pro, $45 for amateur and $35 for junior with a $10 discount offered for current PDGA members.
“I just enjoy it so much. I’ve played lots of different courses and I just felt we really needed something else in town to hopefully make Cranbrook a little bit more of a disc golf destination because if you come here now you can play the Cranbrook course, there’s a Wycliffe course, Fernies an hour away.”
Bowden wants to see the tournament continue as an annual event and hopes that the course and tournament will help aid the upward trend in popularity of the sport around Cranbrook. Disc golf is one of the fastest growing sports in North America, because of its affordability, accessibility, and of course the addictively-fun nature of it.