Disc golfers’ Paradise comes to north county

Course at Paradise Point State Park dedicated Sunday

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Parks Foundation

The Parks Foundation of Clark County helps create projects by being a clearinghouse for gifts, said Cheri Martin, executive director.

She said partnerships are formed and the nonprofit foundation takes care of legally handling donations, paying bills and reporting how the money is used.

“People should support the parks foundation because look at all the great things we do,” Martin said.

For instance, the foundation was a partner in bringing a disc golf course to Vancouver’s Leverich Park.

Other projects the foundation helped on are Overlook Park in Ridgefield; Kiwanis Veterans Memorial Project in Battle Ground; the Steamboat Landing kinetic art project in Washougal; and Southcliff Park. She said vanity bricks in Esther Short Park pay for planting flowers in the park in the spring and fall.

The nonprofit works with 35 groups, Martin said.

In 2011, the foundation partnered to give $34,000.

This year, the foundation expects to provide more than $65,000 for projects, with major backing from Waste Connections, Tidewater and Riverview Community Bank.

On the Web:

Learn more about the Parks Foundation of Clark County.

Learn more about disc golf.

LA CENTER — Paradise Point State Park now boasts a disc golf course. And it is thought to be the first such course in a state park in Washington.

On Sunday, the 7-acre disc golf course was dedicated by players, park officials and a La Center couple who donated $5,000 to bring the 9-hole course to fruition.

“We had about 30 people who showed up, and considering it snowed this morning, that’s a good turnout,” said Steve Carson, leader of Vancouver/Clark Disc Golf.

Philanthropists Dr. William and Sandra Bennett learned of the effort to establish the course in a Columbian story and offered the gift through the Parks Foundation of Clark County.

The couple live nearby on the East Fork of the Lewis River, but like many, for years they had not ventured into the park beneath Interstate 5.

Months ago, they did.

“We were just astounded. We thought what a great park,” Sandra said. “I thought that (a disc golf course) would be a real draw for people to come to the park and to come La Center.”

“I had no idea that sport existed,” William said.

Players are predicting many will learn of the sport and the new course.

“You come here on a summer day and this place will be packed. … There will be a waiting line,” said Josh Pierce of Ridgefield. He and Mike Nemeth of Ridgefield put in more than 200 hours to help build the course. About 20 volunteers also helped.

There are wooden stairs that lead to some elevated tees. The foundations for

those tees and the baskets (equivalent to the hole in traditional golf) took more than 200 bags of concrete.

“It’s the same challenge you have in ball golf,” said Josh Dearing of Vancouver. “It’s the same rules. … Disc golf is cheaper and funner.”

Players stand on a concrete tee and fire the plastic disc as far as 375 feet. The hole has a concrete base, a metal top, chains hanging from the top and a waist-high basket. The object is to get the disc into the basket.

Carson and other players lauded Matt Smith, 35, and Mark Shaw, 27, for working to make the course a reality.

A Columbian story on Jan. 3 described how the two managed to add almost 2 miles of new trails at the 88-acre park in north Clark County. As park managers, Smith and Shaw got approval from their bosses, and did the work themselves with no budget. They also worked with the disc golf enthusiasts.

“It’s more than a job. It’s part of you,” said Smith of working in parks. The two were laid off Feb. 15, two of an estimated 90 state parks employees who lost their jobs. Smith has a six-month job with state parks beginning April 1 as a maintenance mechanic and Shaw has a five-month job as a ranger beginning May 1.

“It’s good to see the completion of the project,” Smith said. Players noted that park host Paul Godsil also donated hours of work.

For a $30 parks Discover Pass, disc golf players can use the course year-round.

Disc golf will grow in popularity, said Nemeth of Ridgefield, who is working to bring a course to Ridgefield’s Abrams Park.

Carson, 47, an IT manager who lives in Vancouver’s Carter Park neighborhood, said players yearn to improve their scores and “they will also want to buy more discs to see how different discs fly and take advantage of the aerodynamics of the different types of discs.