A freebie for your frisbee | PostIndependent.com

A freebie for your frisbee

Courtesy photo
Colleen Steuben |

Local disc golfers are swarming Sunlight Mountain Resort after the opening of a new disc golf course on July 4.

The course, a joint effort involving Sunlight Mountain Inn, Sunlight Mountain Resort and the Roaring Fork Disc Golf Club (RFDGC), features an 18-hole route in addition to a practice hole located at the Inn.

“It’s combining a love of being outdoors, getting hiking in and throwing a disc,” said Clayton Ryon, innkeeper at Sunlight Mountain Inn. “Who doesn’t like that?”

Free to the public, the course begins at Sunlight Mountain Inn and then travels up the mountain, following the Midway run and winding through the Enchanted Forest. After that, the course travels back down Loop and ends on the face of the Dotsero run, forming a counterclockwise circle.

From start the finish, the course incorporates 400 feet of elevation gain and is roughly 5,700 feet in length.

“It’s a beautiful course,” said Gordon Cornelius, 34, a Glenwood Springs local who has played the sport since 2001. “It has a nice balance to it, and it’s challenging because of its diversity. There’s every throw in the book out there.”

The idea for the course was hatched last summer, at which point members of the Sunlight staff began pursuing the necessary permits and working with the Forest Service. RFDGC founder T.J. Lawrence walked the mountain six or seven times to create a preliminary design.

With more than 30 years of disc golf experience under his belt, Lawrence, 49, has designed a number of local courses, including 18-hole courses in New Castle and at the Spring Valley campus of Colorado Mountain College and a nine-hole course at Bert and Ernie Park in Carbondale. He has also designed three courses on the Front Range.

“It’s really rewarding to put in new courses, because you see all the new players it brings out,” Lawrence said. “I would describe the course as challenging but fun. Throwing up and down the hills definitely takes a different technique, and it’s a little more physical, going up and down the slopes, but it’s a fun course.”

Shaped by the land

Because the course is located on the actual ski runs, the group opted for grass and dirt tee pads rather than the standard concrete ones. Each hole is marked with a stake displaying the hole number and which direction to throw.

“It’s very low impact; there was no cutting down of trees or anything like that,” Lawrence explained. “The course is completely shaped by the lay of the land. It’s very picturesque up there, and it’s a great setting for disc golf.”

Cornelius, an active member of the RFDGC, added that the new course is a major benefit to the organization, building off the already-established courses in New Castle and at CMC.

“It adds a little spice to the Roaring Fork Disc Golf Club, because now we have three really good courses within a 20-minute drive,” Cornelius said. “It’s kind of a mecca of disc golf in the valley.”

Looking forward, Lawrence said a grand opening celebration and a late-summer or autumn tournament are in the works. For safety and environmental purposes, he encourages players to utilize the pack it in, pack it out philosophy and avoid smoking on the course.

The Sunlight disc golf course is generally open from dawn to dusk daily, but Ryon said it will be closed occasionally when the resort hosts weddings or other special events. He recommended following “Sunlight Disc Golf” on Facebook for closure updates.

“It hasn’t been [open] long, but it’s been busy,” Ryon said. “Lots of locals are excited about a brand new course. Everybody seems to love it.”

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