Future new Boise disc golf courses: Bowler, Veterans parks

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Boise city officials made a discovery: A burgeoning, Frisbee-inspired golf game was a smash at Ann Morrison Park.

After years of negotiating, the Gem State Disc Golf Club was allowed to pay for and install a nine-hole course. Soon, fresh faces flooded the park. Flying discs “ka-chinged” into chain baskets. Throngs of players waited their turn at tee pads.

“Packed disc golf course has city looking for another site to play,” an Idaho Statesman headline proclaimed in 1998.

“We’re looking at a second course,” a parks official said in the article. “She is OK. Any time of day, you find people using it.

“We see a need for a second one.”

Twenty-four years later? Boise is still waiting.

But relief is coming. Although a crucial, second full-size course is not a given, dozens more baskets and tee pads are being planned in city parks.

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Rick Allison, throwing, Franklin Brien and Jason Walsh had never met before meeting in line to play a round of disc golf at Ann Morrison Park on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

For enthusiasts – who range from competitive tournament players to casual disc chuckers like my kids and me – action feels long overdue.

Ann Morrison Park’s course has evolved into a beautiful 18-hole destination maintained by the Gem State Disc Golf Club. Loved by all ages and skill levels, Ann Mo also became a victim of her own popularity.

I was part of the ragtag gang that lobbied the Boise Parks & Recreation Department back in the day. I even convinced the Statesman to sponsor a hole for a few hundred bucks. But soon enough, the bottlenecks of humanity at the course kept me away. Nowadays, I’m more likely to enjoy a round when I visit my brother in Austin, Texas, than I am in Boise – although I do occasionally drive my family to other Treasure Valley courses.

How much does this city need that second option now? With our population booming? With disc golf soaring worldwide thanks to a pandemic that drove everyone outdoors?

“Desperately,” says Jason Oxsen, owner of local pro shop 208 Discs, 2619 W. Camas St., and a board member of the Gem State Disc Golf Club.

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Franklin Brien throws from a rough patch while playing a round of disc golf at Ann Morrison Park in Boise. He started playing disc golf avidly last fall, he said. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Coming: nine-hole courses

Disc golf courses are springing up across Idaho state parks, as Idaho News 6 recently reported. Boise’s neighboring towns, like Eagle, Meridian, Nampa and Kuna, also have courses.

But Idaho’s capital city still has just one in its entire park system? Unlike the game’s inexpensive, colorful discs, excuses don’t fly.

Doug Holloway, Boise Parks & Rec’s director, is a fun guy. So I rant at him only a little during a spirited phone conversation. He has other pressing issues. (Pickleball courts! Boise needs more pickleball courts!)

Still, why, if the city identified a need decades ago, has it never been addressed? “That’s probably a good question,” Holloway says. “I think part of it, quite honestly, is that disc golfers have traditionally not been squeaky wheels.”

Parks & Rec is not “anti-disc golf,” he says.

“And who!” Holloway says. “It simply came to our notice then. I probably don’t care as much as you do, but I don’t play as much as you do. But I see the people out there. … And we understand that we need more of these. ”

Coming soon, Holloway explains? Two new nine-hole courses.

Five baskets have been installed at Bowler Park in Southeast Boise’s Surprise Valley. Another four have been ordered. “As soon as we get them, we’ll get them installed,” he says.

Next year, a nine-hole course will be built at Magnolia Park, 7136 N. Bogart Lane, Holloway adds.

Further into the future? When the master plan is updated for Borah Park, 801 S. Aurora Drive – likely this coming winter – it will include nine disc golf holes.

Call me a basketball case, but Boise needs way, way more.

The number of disc golfers here has doubled in the past three years, Oxsen estimates.

“It’s a low-cost activity that just kind of fits into the demographic of the Treasure Valley, as it is,” he explains. “People like to recreate around here. They like to go outside. They like to do things. ”

It’s not just Idaho. It’s global. “This sport is not your fringe hobby anymore,” Canadian magazine Kootenay Mountain Culture recently wrote, “It’s blowing up.” In 2021, Paul McBeth, the game’s most accomplished professional player, signed a 10-year, $ 10 million sponsorship deal with disc golf company Discraft. I am not making this up.

Veterans Park: ‘The answer’

The potential game-changer for Boise? A tree-lined course at Veterans Memorial Park, 930 N. Veterans Memorial Parkway.

If all 18 holes happen.

“Veterans is literally the answer, in my opinion,” Oxsen says.

Lugging in portable baskets, the Gem State Disc Golf Club holds an 18-hole winter series event at Veterans annually. A permanent course would undoubtedly help ease pressure at Ann Morrison Park.

Disc golf will be part of the Veterans master plan when it’s updated this summer, Holloway says. But there’s concern that 18 permanent holes might be difficult to squeeze into the area. “If we can get 18 in, we’ll certainly try to do that,” Holloway says.

A full-size course there would be a huge benefit to Boise disc golf. Otherwise? Make the course 17 holes. Or 16. Or 15. Not just nine. Every additional basket counts. And it can’t come soon enough.

Sadly, a Veterans course of any size will not materialize overnight. Funding needs to be allocated in the city budget or secured elsewhere. A “very nice” 18-hole course can be designed and constructed for around $ 20,000, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association.

If a private donor wanted to write a check? Or even offer matching funds? A course at Veterans could probably start moving forward faster.

Either way, Holloway says, “I’ll want to expedite it.”

“You’ve stirred it up a little bit, Deeds,” he explains good-naturedly, “so now we’ve got to do something. Put it this way: I don’t blow smoke. Everything I’m telling you, we’re going to try to do. You have my commitment to that. This is an important thing to the public. I get it. ”

Another future possibility for nine holes, Holloway says? Eight unused acres at Charles F. McDevitt Youth Sports Complex in West Boise, at the intersection of Eagle and McMillan roads. “I could see a disc golf / pickleball location combination – two of the fastest-growing sports in our community – sharing that eight acres,” Holloway says.

Disc golf> pickleball, by the way.

(Just kidding, Grandma!)

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In this 2016 photo, Jason Oxsen fires a disc at the basket on the second hole of the disc golf course at Julius M. Kleiner Park in Meridian. Chadd Cripe ccripe@idahostatesman.com

‘Help is on the way’

When my older son asked to play Ann Mo on his 14th birthday a few weeks ago, I immediately started thinking of less-busy alternatives. We like Eagle Island State Park. And Julius M. Kleiner Park in Meridian has nine holes, but we still haven’t made it over there.

“It’s definitely a short course,” Oxsen says, “but it’s pretty fun. And it’s where I send a lot of new players when they don’t want to get all jammed up at Ann Morrison. “

With luck, other Boise parks will become attractive options before my sons have grown up and moved out. Throwing discs with them is time I relish as a dad.

After talking to Holloway, I’ve become a cautious believer, albeit an impatient one. With a chip on my shoulder created by a Parks & Rec quote from years and years ago. But I’m truly hopeful.

“Is it 20 years too late?” Holloway asks. “Nothing’s ever too late, as long as something can get done.

“Help is on the way, dude,” he promised. “Help is on the way.”

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Like regular ball golf, each disc golf hole has a par. Hole 8 at Ann Morrison Disc Golf Course is par 3. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

This story was originally published May 31, 2022 4:00 AM.

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An entertainment writer and opinion columnist, Michael Deeds chronicles the Boise good life: restaurants, concerts, culture, cool stuff. Deeds materialized at the Idaho Statesman as an intern in 1991 before taking on roles including sportswriter, features editor and music critic. Over the years, his freelance work has ranged from writing album reviews for The Washington Post to hyping Boise in that airline magazine you left on the plane. Deeds has a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Nebraska.

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