Disc golf courses just about ready to go

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Jeff Gibson, above, smooths a gravel base for a new concrete pro tee the City of Marion is installing at Sawyer-Ludwig Park in preparation for the 2010 PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships. (The Marion Star/James Miller)



As published in The Marion Star
By James Steven • Assistant Editor • June 21, 2010

MARION — It’s a long sailing shot, straight up the fairway.

That’s a metaphor those preparing for visitors coming here at the end of the month for the 2010 PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships hope is realized from their efforts.

The condition of the event’s home course here in Marion is certainly going to present a pretty picture, said Marion City Parks Superintendent Mike Cheney.

“The Amateur World Championships will give the Marion Community a positive exposure and will highlight the planning and hard work that has gone into the Sawyer-Ludwig Park Disc Golf Course,” he said, crediting his staff and volunteers for their work preparing the grounds over the past several months.

Mid Ohio Organized Disc Golf, with the help of surrounding disc golf courses at Hedges-Boyer Park in Tiffin, Aumiller Park in Bucyrus, Players Course at Alum Creek State Park in Galena, Gordon Holton Memorial at Delaware State Park in Delaware, and Upper Sandusky Reservoir in Upper Sandusky, is hosting the championships in Central Ohio. The Ohio State University at Marion/Marion Technical College campus will be the central headquarters site for the event, June 27-July 3

The competition at each course will begin in the morning and end in the late afternoon. More than 700 disc golfers from the United States and several other countries are expected to participate. Competitors in junior divisions (age 6) to advanced legends (70-over) will be here vying for world titles.

The putting, distance, mini-golf and skill shot competitions and the featured final nine of the tournament will all be held at the OSUM/MTC campus, as will special events, including a “Fly-Mart” vendors show and demonstration festivities that will be held during the week. Plenty of activities will involve public participation each evening, said Tournament Director Ken Rollins.

With all the work being done at the course, including taking out a few trees, smoothing stumps and filling in trip holes, no one really expected wet weather to be a problem in Central Ohio at the end of June. Not only has it meant more frequent mowing, the numerous recent rain days are impacting the prep process by producing muddy wet spots.

“We are fortunate, we don’t have any holes running down in low areas, so we won’t be flooded,” said Cheney. “But I have heard that there are some other courses that that could be a problem.”

That could be the case at the courses in Upper Sandusky, Bucyrus and Tiffin where some holes reach down toward the river areas. Wet conditions are certainly something Jerry Daiber, Bucyrus City utilities superintendent, says his crews are dealing with.

“Actually, the weather has us really handcuffed here,” he said, earlier this week. “A lot of the course (at Aumiller Park) is the low lying areas down along the river. It’s not in good shape and we can’t get in to get some of the work done.”

Daiber said that factoring in this rain, his people were probably called in a little too late to be able to complete the work. He said rubber mats, which are commonly used in disc golf tournaments, will probably have to be brought in to use as some of the tee boxes.

Cheney praised his staff — park supervisor Jeff Gibson, Kenny Ballinger, Bryon Bigford, Ben Estep and Jay Gilbert. They have been working the last several months to install the final 8-10 concrete pads for the longer blue tees. MOOD Golf paid for the supplies and the city workers are doing the work, he said.
Cheney is pretty familiar with disc golf courses, having come from Upper Sandusky where he helped get the course built there, one of the first in this area, in 2004. He’s happy to be able to provide such a nice venue here in Marion.

“I’ll tell you what, its hard to go out there at any time during the day, evenings or weekends and not see people playing golf, and as far as park activities go, it’s one of the least expensive things we can have for people,” he said.

With the metal holes as inexpensive as $350, which can usually be paid for through sponsors, and volunteer workers being a dependable source of labor, disc golf courses are becoming more prevalent. Whereas there were 20 courses in Ohio in the early 1990s, there are more than 100 now. Worldwide, there are more than 3,000 courses.

“It’s actually just a nice walk to get out there and play the course,” said Cheney.

Mayor Scott Schertzer said a lot of people are working hard to help showcase Marion through the big events coming here, whether it be the disc golf championships or the Laser Nation by Invitation in which 105 girl softball teams from seven states are involved in 400 games in five age divisions at various ball parks around Marion County this weekend.

He credited Cheney, Director Diane Watson at the Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Director Jeannie Brewer at the Marion Recreation Department for their efforts behind bringing these and other events.

“We’re just happy they chose Marion, and certainly our hope is that they’ll come here and eat and stay at our hotels. It certainly can’t do anything but help the local economy with them here,” he said. “Can you imagine pulling these off without a visitors bureau. They are doing a really awesome job for us.”

While Marion County officials announced last week some good news about a 5 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the first half of the year over last year, Schertzer said the city’s primary funding resource is income tax revenue, which benefits from people visiting businesses that are able to hire and keep people employed. He said economic recovery is crawling along from the city’s standpoint, showing a three-tenths percent increase in the first quarter.

“That (county sales tax increase) really doesn’t help us directly,” he said. “We need to make sure our people are back to work and not laid off, and we are starting to see that right now.”