A new, 18-hole disc golf course opened in Waldport last week, and around 35 people gathered on Saturday, Jan. 12, for the course’s inaugural flight, a tournament called the Red River Open Ice Bowl.
According to event organizer Jason Nehmer, who is president of the Central Oregon Coast Disc Golf Club, the motto of the Ice Bowl is “no whims, no whiners” because it is held in winter, and the weather can present some challenges. But that wasn’t the case on Saturday, when players were greeted with sunny skies and temperatures approaching 60 degrees.
When asked what he thought of the new course, Nehmer said, “I love it, (but) I designed it, so I better love it.” His involvement with creating this course came about after the City of Waldport decided it wanted another recreational opportunity at its Crestline Park/Woodland Trail area.
Waldport City Manager Kerry Kemp explained, “About two years ago, in 2016, the City of Waldport updated and revised our Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan. That involved a series of community meetings, as well as workshops with the city council, so there was a lot of public input.” One of the ideas that came from those meetings was having more active uses at Woodland Park and Crestline Park, he said, and one of the high priorities identified was a disc golf course.
“So we had money, we had authority, we had an idea and some backing by the community, but now what?” said Kemp. “I’ve played disc golf … but I had no idea how to design a course, and I knew there had to be somebody out there that can do this.” He went online and came across the Central Oregon Coast Disc Golf Club, which included contact information for Nehmer.
“So I called him and asked, ‘Can you help?’” recalled Kemp. “He was gung ho from the get go. His efforts in this are so important. Regardless of who actually did the work, he had the eye for designing it and for viewing it through a golfers lens, which was pretty remarkable.”
When asked about his process in designing a disc golf course, Nehmer said, “I just kind of walked around, over and over and over, just looking. One of the most important things on a disc golf course is flow … and you want it to do a loop, finish where it starts. That’s another very important thing.”
Kemp said, “It took us awhile even to settle on a potential layout because it kept morphing. He kept walking it, and it kept evolving over time.”
Kemp also credited the city’s public works crew for its efforts in this project. “Our public works guys did a lot of work, more than what we thought it would end up being with all the clearing and the grubbing and everything to get it to a point where it’s playable because we were going through trees. The first few times you couldn’t even really walk through a lot of it. So public works was paramount in getting the work done.”
Kemp and Nehmer both said community partners were also instrumental in creating this course.
“It was a combination of (Angell) Job Corps for the tee pads, the Lincoln County Work Crew for cleaning trail and digging holes and putting the baskets in. I helped with that, as well, a little bit,” said Nehmer. “And then Waldport Public Works did a lot of work. It’s amazing. They made these bridges, just for the course. It’s great, it’s phenomenal.”
Kemp said another partner in the project was a private entity, Land & Sea Development. “They allowed us a right of entry for two of the holes,” he said.
And throughout this entire process, Kemp said they had an ongoing conversation with members of the Waldport Trails Committee. “Early on, we met and continued to meet with the Waldport Trails Committee to hear their concerns,” he said, “and to make sure that we didn’t just figuratively bulldoze over them because the Woodland Trail goes through there. It was important to get them engaged because these two user groups, the disc golfers and the trailer walkers, have to co-exist. I think we did a really good job of facilitating that and making sure that they were.”
Admission to the disc golf course is free, and it was designed for both amateur and professional players. When asked what challenges the course presents, Nehmer said, “I would say the ravines. So elevation is the challenge here — you’re going to have to go up and down a lot.” There are also a lot of trees, and elevation with trees equals means a disc doesn’t always go where intended, he said.
Although the course is now open to the public, there will still be a few amenities added in the future.
“The major components of all the baskets and the tee pads and everything like that is done,” said Kemp “But now we’re going to look at enhancements to it, whether it’s some wayfinding signs, a big sign at the beginning that shows a map, some benches … it will be ongoing.
“One thing about Waldport is it’s a great little community that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle between Newport and Yachats,” continued Kemp. “This is part of defining who we are.”
People who want to try out the new disc golf course will find it at Crestline Park, which is located near the intersection of Range Drive and Crestline Drive in Waldport.