Area disc golf enthusiasts will soon have another course where they can get out and rattle some chains.
A number of players have had a hand in developing the Hermiston Desert Disc Golf course, said Larry Fetter, director of Hermiston Parks & Recreation. In addition to the city of Hermiston, the project is the result of cooperative efforts between the Hermiston Irrigation District, the Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation and the board and administration of Good Shepherd Health Care System.
A dedication ceremony for Hermiston Desert Disc Golf is set for Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Oxbow Trail, located at 1100 N.W. Elm Ave. The first phase of the course, which includes nine holes, will be available to the public free of charge.
“The nice part of it is the Oxbow Trail meanders through the area,” Fetter said.
Scott Zielke, who works in the maintenance department at Good Shepherd, said the course correlates with the walking trail, but doesn’t require players to toss discs over the path.
The hospital foundation, Fetter said, provided a $15,000 grant for the first phase of the project. In addition to the health benefits, the foundation found the project appealing because it’s available for participants at no cost.
“They tend to favor things that are wellness related,” Fetter said. “They like the idea that it gets people out walking and exercising.”
The project, Fetter said, started out as a grassroots effort with a small group of disc golfers approaching the city to brainstorm about possible locations for a course. Zielke and hospital co-workers Jake Flemmer and Kathy Williams were aware of some hospital-owned acreage. Although the plot of land wasn’t large enough for a course, coupled with irrigation district property makes for a more than viable location for an eventual sprawling 18-hole course.
A chance encounter between Zielke, a novice disc golfer, and Matt Richmond and Ginger Wilkinson, both officers with the Umatilla Disc Golf Club, provided further enthusiasm for the possibility of a course in Hermiston.
While returning a boomerang Richmond accidentally tossed on Zielke’s daughter’s house, Zielke noticed a disc golf sticker on Richmond’s truck. Wilkinson, Richmond and Zielke started talking about how great it would be to have a course in Hermiston. Zielke told the couple about an upcoming community planning meeting.
“I told him, ‘I’m on board, where do I need to be and what meeting do I need to attend?’” Richmond said.
Wilkinson and Richmond immediately spread the word via the Umatilla Disc Golf Club Facebook page. A number of disc golfers voiced their support during the September 2016 planning meeting.
Flemmer, Zielke said, began researching course designs on the internet. Eventually, he plotted the 18-hole course so it was within regulations.
Having a larger layout with some open areas is an attraction for disc golfers, Richmond said. He expects the Hermiston course will contribute to the growth of the sport.
“It has championship size holes and pads, so that’s exciting,” Wilkinson said. “If you build it, they will come.”