W.hen Tom Butler was a student at Arizona State University, he saw the dawn of disc golf in the Valley.
In the 1980s, courses were built at Tempe Beach Park and Vista Del Camino in Scottsdale as the game gained traction alongside the popularity of the ultimate frisbee. In disc golf, players throw a frisbee at a basket.
Over time, the game has steadily gained in importance in the US with more than 7,000 seats – including around 75 in Arizona.
It is one of the fastest growing games in the country, according to AARP, which estimates that 50 million rounds of disc golf were played worldwide in 2021.
Now Butler is campaigning for Ahwatukee to have its own disc golf course in Sun Ray Park.
Butler, who has lived in Ahwatukee since 1987, said he was excited about the prospect for many reasons.
“One of them is my love for this game – it’s just so much fun,” he said. “Second, I’m so excited that I can potentially bike two miles to a disc golf course and play whenever I want.”
Butler’s campaign for a place in Sun Ray Park began after he learned that Udisc – advertised as “The Disc Golfers’ App” – showed that the closest place to Butler in Vista Del Camino Park was 17 miles away.
He decided to contact the Ahwatukee City Council office, Sal DiCiccio, whose office interpreted the plan residents must follow to try to get parliamentary facilities in their community.
DiCiccio’s chief of staff, Sam Stone, said his office would like to support anyone who comes up with the idea of adding a disc golf course or similar place for outdoor activities. However, community support for the project is an important factor in deciding whether to go ahead and do it.
The same goes for a campaign by Ahwatukee residents Carrie McNeish and Jill Ostendrop for pickleball courts in Desert Foothills Park. They, too, were instructed by Stone to gather evidence showing a demand in their neighborhood for a park.
The 3-year-old 16-seat pickleball complex in Pecos Park is great, say the two Ahwatukee women, but unfortunately many other pickleball players think so too.
“The Pecos places are always overwhelmed,” said Ostendorp, who set up an email address – email@example.com – for residents to express their support for Desert Foothills Park, which the city never completed and which offers space for pickleball courts.
Ostendorp made his request to the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board earlier this month but didn’t get much response other than a thank you.
She told the board that they have already received 400 emails in support of the courts and that most of them were Ahwatukee residents who lived within two miles of Desert Foothills Park.
She asked the board what the next steps were. Nobody on the board answered.
Butler said a disc golf course in Sun Ray Park makes sense because “there is room there to add, not take away from existing uses of the park.”
Stone added, “Our residents are always appreciating new recreational opportunities, especially new outdoor recreational opportunities with everything that happens with COVID. This is another great thing that people can do outdoors in very safe circumstances. “
In June, Butler was notified by the city’s deputy park manager, Albert Santana, that a nine-hole course was being prepared.
City Parks and Recreation Department Gregg Bach said his department “is working with a group that has expressed an interest in adding a disc golf facility to Sun Ray Park.
“The department plans to hire residents who are alive
in the neighborhood nearby
the park and evaluate the community interest. Upon completion of this process, the department plans to bring the article to the Parks and Recreation Board with a recommendation. “
Butler said park officials asked him to raise public donations for the baskets, which cost between $ 400 and $ 500 each.
Butler hopes to present his campaign to the Parks and Rec Board next month.
“I started fundraising and I’ve gotten quite a response,” said Butler. “Until this project is approved by the Parks Board, we have all the capital and can start installing as soon as possible.”
Butler has set up a Facebook page called the Phoenix Sun Ray Park Disc Golf Course Project, which provides updated information on his campaign and advice on how community members can help.
On this page he has also published a suggested layout of the course.
As the course moves into the design phase, Stone said the committee would ask citizens to raise $ 5,000 to pay for it – “something that is pretty doable,” he said.
Butler looks forward to bringing a game to his local community that people of all ages can play.
“I have people in my immediate group of friends, I meet people weekly who are very excited about the potential of the course because they are familiar with the game,” he said, “but they know there is nothing in 20 miles of our community here, where they can play. ”