Once you get out and start playing, disc golf no longer discriminates, says Andrew Reese, River Falls Disc Golf Club. “Everyone can play.”
After starting the sport in 2012, he and a community of others founded a club and are now working on a new addition to River Falls’ parks – the 18-hole Sterling Hill Disc golf course in Sterling Ponds Park.
A map of the Sterling Hill Disc Golf Course. Submitted.
River Falls City Council approved the course at its October 12th session, but work began long before that.
Reese has been meeting with the River Falls Park and Recreation Advisory Board for at least five years to discuss a new disc golf course, navigate park maps, locations, and other logistics.
“The property will be largely undeveloped, wooded open spaces, voluntarily built facilities, additional public use of paths for other outdoor leisure activities,” says the approved decision.
Since five boys met for the first time, more unofficially, in 2015, the River Falls Disc Golf Club has evolved into various events, tournaments and leagues that culminated in their greatest endeavor to date – working with the city in a new place .
From 2016 the disc golf club met on Hoffman-Platz for a league and tournaments. As they continued to do so, some obvious complications emerged, including congestion in the common area at Hoffman Park and problems at hole 9.
“Disk golf can leak out of the court,” Reese said. “It doesn’t necessarily stick to the fairways.”
This can interfere with other activities in the park, such as camping or other sports.
Instead of fixing just one hole and dealing with the remaining glitches, Reese and some of the other disc golfers started tossing around the idea of a new course.
“Hoffman is a very busy park, especially with the addition of 1st National Baseball Field,” said Cindi Thank You, River Falls Leisure Manager. “We knew we had to look for another city-country.”
The 12 acres in Sterling Ponds Park, although a massive project, was ultimately chosen for a new location. The disc golf club worked with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and River Falls City Council to designate the land for the 18-hole course.
When they got the first green light, Reese rolled up his sleeves and got to work. The club received approval when the pandemic resulted in a lockdown. Members began removing the invasive species from the park. Sea buckthorn was and will continue to have to be cultivated.
Since then, Reese has cleared nearly 130,000 square feet with the help of around 14 volunteers. “It’s an overwhelming task,” said Reese.
Before clearing: Fairway of hole 10. Submitted.
After clearing: Fairway of hole 10. Submitted.
In order to preserve the natural aspect of the square as much as possible, no motorized vehicles are allowed in the park. That means that every 130,000 square meters of clearing was done by hand.
“During the winter, I still have about 40,000 square feet of sea buckthorn to clear,” Reese said. “There are dead trees standing and fallen trees that we need to remove, and that will be done over the winter.”
Andrew Reese of River Falls Disc Golf Club on the fairway of Hole 1 at Sterling Hill. Submitted.
Reese expects a gentle opening in the fall of 2022 and a full opening of the course in the spring of 2023.
There is still much work to be done, but River Falls Disc Golf Club has received the funding it needs to achieve its goal.
“I think the community is always looking for affordable activities to do alone or with the family, so a new 18-hole course will be very much appreciated,” said Thank You.
Anyone interested in preparing the course or playing disc golf is encouraged to contact the disc golf club on their Facebook page or by emailing [email protected]