HARBERT – The July 22 meeting of the Chikaming Township Park Board featured a presentation by Sawyer resident Mark Strauss of the Sand Ridge Disc Golf Club, who espoused the many benefits of that growing sport and said he felt the spacious 263-acre Chikaming Park & Preserve property would be a great spot to develop an 18 hole course.
Strauss pointed to the popularity of a similar course at Lake Township Park to help make his case that a new course in Chikaming would be a welcome addition to the many other unique outdoor recreational opportunities available in Harbor Country.
“Disc golf continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and Michigan is ranked fourth on the list of having the most Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) members, ranking just behind Texas, California and Finland,” Strauss said. “And along with our state being a ‘Disc Golf Destination’ for decades, we believe the Park & Preserve is a prime regional location for a top-notch course.
“With minimal economic and skill-related barriers for those of all ages to begin playing disc golf, we believe a course in the beautiful Park & Preserve will have a multi-tiered positive impact on the community,’ he added.
Strauss said he had been playing and enjoying disc golf for 25 years, and he said that since the first course was opened in 1975 the PDGA membership had grown to over 14,000 and the number of courses had climbed to 8,100 worldwide, with over 6,000 being located in the United States.
He said the sport had evolved from the old “Frisbee golf” to having players now traversing well laid out 18 hole courses with a supply of discs of varying sizes and weights with the goal of getting them in the basket “holes” in the least amount of throws.
“Unlike regular golf, not a lot of equipment is needed, and it’s a sport that is accessible to and fun for all ages,” Straus said.
He estimated the cost of developing the course with one tee pad per hole at just over $16,000, and one with two tee pads per hole (both amateur and pro tees) at just over $20,000.
Strauss also said that the services of a course designer would be used, and approximately 30 acres would be needed for the layout, with a likelihood that some trees and plants would have to be removed.
Harbert resident Dave Stevenson said that he would be involved in exploring grant opportunities and writing grant applications that would help provide funding for the project.
Member Janet Schrader commented that it would be an enhancement to the Park & Preserve, similar to the popular mountain bike trail there that was developed by her husband Kirk and a great number of volunteers.
“That mountain bike trail is now 6.5 miles and is officially acclaimed as a ‘Destination Mountain Bike Trail,’” Schrader said.
In other business, Schrader suggested that in the future a member of the Park Board be designated as a liaison to the Public Safety Committee and attend their meetings.
She also volunteered to be the representative for the Park Board at the upcoming strategic planning sessions that will be conducted by the township.
Chairperson Deborah Hall-Kayler conducted a review of committees, beaches, lake accesses and parks
She also encouraged people to register on the township’s CodeRED site so they can be alerted to any hazardous conditions in the township, including dangerous weather alerts that are especially important at this time of year when so many people are enjoying leisure time along the lakefront.
Also on the agenda, Joe Sipeck was thanked for his work pertaining to the Harbert Road lake access stairs.
Finally, there was a reminder that the next “Celebrate Chikaming” event would be the popular annual “Ice Cream Social & Cake Auction Fundraiser” at Lakeside Park on Sat., Aug 3, 5-7 p.m. The event is being sponsored by the Chikaming Township Park Board, the Lakeside Association, and the Rotary Club of Harbor Country.