Disc golf returns to Steamboat Ski Area

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— Life has proven to be short and dramatic in Steamboat Springs for disc golf courses.

The Thunderhead Disc Golf Course opened at Steamboat Ski Area in 2007, but literally was chainsawed out of existence within two years when the beetle-killed trees, which had sheltered the venue, were cut down.

A course in Rita Valentine Park in 2010 was short lived, disappearing amid that neighborhood's tenants vocal opposition. A proposed course on Emerald Mountain died (at least temporarily) before a disc even flew when residents of the Fairview neighborhood caught wind of the plan.

The Thunderhead Disc Golf Course isn’t in any particular neighborhood’s backyard, however, and this summer it has risen from the dead.

A 19-hole layout is up and running on the slopes of Mount Werner, and that’s a relief to the disc golf community.

“The popularity of disc golf is exploding,” said Peter Shunny, president of Steamboat Area Disc Golf League. “We’ve been working with Ski Corp. to get this up and running and we put in a lot of hours to get it going. It’s critical now to get it up and running and to satisfy the need here for now.”

SADL partnered with Steamboat Ski Area starting late last fall. This spring, work began on a course. It’s in the same general area as the previous version, but, thanks to the loss of hundreds of trees, is entirely different.

The course will officially open Friday, though baskets are in place and people began playing late last month.
The course is free and begins near the base of the Thunderhead Express Chairlift, at the top of Burgess Creek Road, where limited parking is available.

“This course is a community effort,” Lance Miles, mountain operations and project coordinator for the ski area, said in a news release. “Every step of the way partners from the resort, the Forest Service and SADL shared input and ideas, as well as manual labor to make this a premier course in the Rocky Mountains.”

Shunny said the course was designed to be accessible for golfers of a variety of skill levels, but with the hope that golfers from every skill level also will be challenged. It includes several holes that can — theoretically, at least — be aced. It includes several massive fairways, as long as 600 feet. And it includes some of the technical between-the-trees shots that helped make the 2007 version of the course so popular.

The ski area is installing rubber mats for the tee boxes and hauled out the baskets from the previous course. They were repainted and have been reinstalled.

“It was hard not only to keep it friendly and challenging, but also hard to work around all the bike paths up there,” Shunny said. “That was a big key to limit our impact between bikes, hikers and golfers and make it all fun and still challenging. But we’ve come up with some pretty fun holes.”

It’s an exciting turn for local disc golfers, and if they’re lucky, this course might even survive for awhile.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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