Sr. Dre Solorzano winds up and throws his driver disc down a narrow, tree lined path. The disc glides toward the first basket of the course, but then starts to slope left. The disc clips a tree and falls to the ground prematurely. Solorzano, the co-president of the Disc Golf Club, realizes that the new course at Winstrom Park is very different from the old one, and it’s going to take a lot of practice to master it.
Winstrom Park has had a disc golf course since 2005. This year, the course design was updated in the hopes of improving the play and reducing erosion. Locally, this course is very popular, so to many, the quality is very important.
In order to make the course more user friendly, the course now has two starting pads. “We saw the original design as being very beginner and family friendly. That was something that we wanted to preserve,” course designer Travis Prueter said. There is a short one, that is considerably easier because of its placement in respect to the hole, and a longer, harder one. The shorter pads are targeted toward beginners who are working on mastering fundamental skills. The longer pads, on the other hand, are for those who have already mastered certain disc throws and are able to achieve scores close to par. “The biggest benefit of having two sets of teepads is that you essentially get two courses on the same property,” Prueter said.
The difficulty of the course has also changed, but it varies from person to person. “When you design a course, you try to make it backhand/forehand balanced, meaning players of both throwing styles and dominant hands get equal advantage. That said disc golf course are normally shaped around the existing landscape. In this case, we made a conscious effort to minimize the impact of the course, minimize the amount of trees that needed to be removed, and minimize the proximity of the course to the neighboring communities. The result is the course that is now installed. It is a little righty backhand friendly, but with the factors stated above, we tried our hardest to balance the course,” Prueter said.
“For me, the new course is really hard, but only because I lack a certain throw. Before Winstrom was a forehand dominate course, where the majority of the holes would follow the path of a forehand, but now many holes are backhand dominate, and I cannot throw backhand for the life of me,” Solorzano said. Because the layout of the course has changed, the playing style has also changed, and it can really punish players that have not completely mastered every aspect of the game.
The course length has also been adjusted. “The overall length of the old layout versus the new long format is about double,” Prueter said. As a result, disc choice has also been affected. “Before the renovations, I used discs that I knew I could control, but now I am forced to use distance oriented backhand discs so I can throw far enough to achieve par,” Solorzano said. The par for the course has also changed. “Before, every hole was a par 3. To my knowledge, the par for the holes on the new course are not listed, but I believe that the long distance holes that were added will have a larger par.”
Even through all of the transformations, the course still has the same blood running through its veins. “When we started looking at this redesign project we wanted to keep some of the more iconic holes. The old signature water hole is one example. Holes one, five, six, eight, nine, eleven, and seventeen were all tweaks of some holes from the old layout,” Prueter said.
During the winter seasons, playing disc golf is much harder, and there is a greater risk of losing discs in the snow, so it is unfortunate that the renovations at Winstrom Park took place in the fall immediately before the snow flew. Luckily, the course isn’t going anywhere, and it will be fully operational and ready to use in the spring. “We set out to create a layout that a seasoned player would enjoy, and one that beginners and families could enjoy,” Prueter said. And that is just how it turned out.