Taking their discs into their own hands - New Frolf course nears completion

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
June 17th, 2010

Amid two years of regional recreational battles, there has been a quiet recreational success story going on just over the hill outside of Rossland. For the past few years a dedicated core of volunteer players, sport builders and course constructors have worked hard to build a fun and affordable recreation experience, free from government control and inter-city bickering. What is this mythical-sounding beast that has been able to run the recreation gauntlet without getting caught up in small town parochialism? It’s none other than the Thin Air Disc Golf Club, affectionately known as the Frolf course up at Blackjack.

Officially opened in 2007 after a few avid disc huckers grew out of their freestyle Centennial Park course, the Frolf scene has been quietly and steadily growing. Built by and for the people that use it, the volunteer-built venue has defied the odds and not just survived but thrived with no public money. Similar to the grassroots skate park effort that is steadily ramping up steam, the novel concept of having the people involved in the sport create, build and govern their own facilities has resulted in a spectacular and spectacularly affordable way to spend a few hours on a summer day.

Following trail improvement work at Blackjack last summer, a number of holes on the disc golf course were affected. Turning adversity into opportunity, the club has come back this summer with a new redesign to re-build and grow the course.

Previously a nine basket, 18 tee course, this summer the club will unveil a full 18 hole set up with nine baskets and nine tone-poles. The first three holes will remain as they were, with numbers four through 18 being rebuilt or brand new.

“The course goes straight back from the old number three almost to the Ophir Creek reservoir,” explained Blaine Benner. “You can actually have a nice view of the reservoir from one or two of the holes. We basically go from the clubhouse at Blackjack to the reservoir and loop back around again. It’s really going to be an awesome course when it’s done. I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve already been having lots of fun on the holes we’ve got done so far.”

With a full 18 holes, the new course will be designed to BCDSS (BC Disc Sport Society) specifications. Allowing the course to hold BCDSS-sanctioned events. Tournaments in the past at the Blackjack course have been well attended with over 50 people showing up for a day of disc tossing and a few beers in the sun. Building on that, there are hopes of hosting the BC Disc Golf Championships in upcoming years. 

Although not yet completed the course has already landed a prime-time frolfing event: although the BC Senior Games are being jointly hosted by Castlegar and Nelson next summer Rossland has gotten in on the action and will host the disc golf events.

With all the improvements, rebuilding and sanctioning of the course this year there will be a few extra costs to keep things running. Previously the course has been free to play. It will remain free; however, this year the Thin Air Disc Golf course will be selling $25 memberships to help offset insurance fees.

“That’s a very important aspect to what we do,” added Benner. “Membership gets you lower prices for tournament entries, a tag that says you’ve been a part of this thing that has been happening over the last few years. It says that you’re contributing to the development of a new recreational facility in town.”

You can pick up your membership at the Rush Coffee Lounge in the Prestige or by tracking down Blaine around town.

So far 27 members have signed up, with the expectation that there will be 50 full members of the club by summer’s end.

The full unveiling of the new course right now is expected to happen by July 1st.  Working around the weather and relying solely on volunteer efforts to make it happen a core group of volunteers have been getting things in shape for a summer of bashing chains. 

“We have a core group of organizers that are working basically as their schedule and the weather has allowed, added Benner. “We also have a coordinated effort on Sundays. So every Sunday in June regardless of weather we are out there building with as many hands as we can get together.”

The Sunday work sessions will continue through June until the course is finished. If you want to lend a hand the group would love to have the extra man-power. Right now the group is meeting Sundays at noon. If you’ve got some hand tools, shovels, rakes etc bring them along.

Currently 11 holes are in various stages of completion. The organization is now seeking sponsors to help construct the final seven holes. As the course has developed the baskets and tone poles have been paid for by various businesses around town sponsoring a hole who get name recognition on that hole for the life of the course.

All in all, the little recreational facility that could is chugging along, growing it’s ranks and expanding it’s facility all under the guidance, efforts and determination of a disc loving portion of our population. 

Writers note: I played the new course this past week and it is fantastic. It’s got a completely different feel than the previous course. The holes are longer and in my opinion more interesting with dips, turns and great views in all directions. The work already done on the course is impressive. Rock walls and log cabin style tee boxes take the experience up a notch. The diversity of the geography keeps things interesting. There are great views of the Ophir reservoir and then panoramic views of Red, Granite, Grey and Kirkup from the high point in the course. I set my first round of the summer benchmark at 6 over for 18.



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