Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Frisbee-golf with lemonade!

Commentary by Jim Banholzer


Jim Banholzer

When an agent of the Bureau of Land Management shut down the Ohio Gulch Frisbee-Golf course that some kids had cobbled together, was he unwittingly playing into the hands of the big pay to play coalitions? Was there concern that a Frisbee might make an impact statement upon a hidden killdeer egg? Or was the rusty nail sticking out more dangerous than a nearby rattler? If only the same level of government scrutiny could be placed upon those fish churning dams! What's going to be shut down next? Kids' lemonade stands? I suppose permits are needed for insurance purposes and all of that. So, with the YMCA project suffering from repeated delays, the time is ripe for us to go by the book and take some simple steps towards obtaining Frisbee-disc courses for our area.

Every community in the U.S. large enough to have an airport also has disc golf playing areas nearby--except for here! The nearest ones are in Boise, Burley, Pocatello and Pine Flats Campground by Lowman (well worth visiting--great country and abundant hot springs!) Many local people aren't sure what this sport is, even though there are thousands of courses throughout the world.

Disc golf is a great method of exercise, especially for those seeking a (usually) less competitive sport. Injuries rarely occur and most courses are wheelchair accessible. Ranges usually consist of 9 to 18 tee off areas, which, like regular golf courses, follow interesting routes. Rather than leading to holes, they lead to rudimentary sets of chains attached to poles 3-5 feet off the ground and 150 feet away from tee off areas. The chains, in a fashion similar to basketball backboards, assist in slowing and directing flying discs into metal receiving baskets. Wide varieties of discs are tailored for this method of Zen. Setting up a 9-hole course is not expensive, provided land is available. Communities traditionally reach agreements with local park authorities to install courses in underused areas of parks. The world class Skateboard parks that people drive long distances to and even fly here to use would be greatly complimented by a disc golf course.

With millions of acres of BLM and Forest service land around, a few acres could be dedicated to courses without inconveniencing a soul. Poles can be locked down and moved to different locations for course variation and to prevent erosion. They are detachable in case a field needs to be used for another purpose.

A sweet possibility would be setting up a Snowshoe course with taller poles in the broad recreation area around Billy's Bridge, twenty miles north of Ketchum. (Watch out for the Lynx on the links.) When disc enthusiasts like myself see a five-acre open space, like the one on Sun Valley Road, we can't help but imagine a demonstration event for some future gallery walk. A disc obstacle course, enhanced by surrounding art beads hanging from handmade receptacles and other glowing concepts, could be strategically laid out, enabling players to experience art in a closer sense than they would ordinarily. Such events could be symbolically held with lit Frisbees on Solstice evenings.

Because such courses are inexpensive, they should be placed higher up priority lists of local park authorities. The little maintenance required could be financed by a fund-raiser and/or snack bars, which could also sell discs, scoring pads with advertisements and lemonade. One could even be set up with adjoining miniature golf holes and badminton courts (an Olympic Sport since 1992). You don't have to pay millions to receive something good. Traditionally, disc courses are free to play; though some ask for donations.

Please give input to your Recreation Districts. (Blaine County 788-2117, Ketchum 726-7820) One man does not have enough clout to make this happen. They are interested, but need to hear from more fans of "Funsville" asking, "What's up with the disc courses?" soon.

Speaking of making lemonade out of lemons, local politicians take note: The first summer a child's lemonade stand is shut down locally (likely spurred by a grouchy ShandyGaff serving competitor's complaint) will be your grand opportunity to issue strong proclamations. For instance, "Who among us does not enjoy non-constrained lemonade?" or, better yet "I hereby decree, this lemonade stand run permit free, along with the children's glee!"

Don't forget to buy a container of lemonade for staying hydrated on the courses.

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