Disc golf course upgraded

PUTT: Brett Arnold (right) throws a putt at the Northend Riverside Park disc golf course. Arnold’s friend Josh Rowbotham watches. The two have been playing disc golf for three years after a mutual friend got them interested in the sport. (Pioneer file photo)

New features prevent erosion, make course safer, more challenging

BIG RAPIDS — Dr. Leonard Johnson is very passionate about disc golf. Not only does he enjoy playing the sport, he also volunteers his efforts to keep the 18-hole course at Northend Riverside Park in Big Rapids clean and challenging.

The basket at the end of the No. 3 hole sits atop a small hill. Years of heavy foot traffic and discs hitting the hill have eroded the area leading up to the basket.

To keep it from falling over, Johnson donated materials to build a retaining wall at the base of the hill.

“We needed to stop the erosion,” Johnson said. “The cement (foundation) that holds the basket in place was less than one foot away from being exposed. The basket was in danger of falling out of the ground.”

Similarly, the No. 18 hole was redesigned to be more challenging for players and safer for passersby. The White Pine Trail used to pass through the middle of the hole, and people traversing the path had to watch out for flying discs.

Johnson decided to move the basket to the same side of the trail as the tee. A small hill was created for the basket to sit atop, and a retaining wall was installed at the base of the hill to protect it from erosion. He and about 10 volunteers installed the retaining walls on Thursday at the park.

RETAINING WALL: A retaining wall was added to the No. 3 basket on the disc golf course at Northend Riverside Park in Big Rapids. The hill was eroding and the basket was in danger of falling over. (Courtesy photo)

“Essentially what we’ve done is created a sand trap like on a regular golf hole,” Johnson said. “Before, it was too tempting to throw your disc at the basket from across the trail. This was necessary for safety reasons.”

Big Rapids Parks and Recreation Director Heather Bowman likes the changes made to the course, both for ascetic and safety reasons.

“Basket No. 3 was getting pretty beat up, almost to the point where the basket could fall over. To prevent that from happening, Leonard decided to put in the retaining wall. It needed it pretty bad,” Bowman said.

“On the No. 18 basket, it provides a little bit more of a challenge at the end of the course. They thought it would look cool to put in a retaining wall like at hole No. 3. It’s safer (for people on the trail) and provides more of a challenge.”

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Posted by Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley is news editor for the Pioneer. He designs and copy edits the Pioneer daily, and manages staff in the evening. Eppley joined the Pioneer staff in 2010. He can be reached at (231) 592-8357 or at jeppley@pioneergroup.com.

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