Merrill’s disc golf enthusiast club, Merrill DG, is spearheading an initiative to install a disc golf course at Stange’s and Kitchenette parks in Merrill. Working in cooperation with the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, Merrill DG members Kyle Gulke and Erik Pfantz have been hitting the streets seeking donations toward the project which is expected to cost about $10,000.
“Disc golf has been something I enjoy,” Gulke said. It’s a growing sport and I see Merrill as a community that can embrace it and potentially benefit from it. We’d like to help Merrill be identified as a disc golf destination.”
“Merrill has a great wealth of parkland in the city,” Pfantz added. “There are sections of parks that are underutilized and this would bring more people into the parks, and develop it as a resource.”
Gulke and Pfantz, both 24, have traveled all over the state of Wisconsin, from Superior to Madison, to play various courses. With 272 disc golf courses in the state, Wisconsin is ranked third in the nation for total courses. Tournaments bring large numbers of people to the hosting communities, they noted.
The pair are members of Merrill DG, Merrill’s disc golf club. The group would like to see more courses in the city’s parks, in addition to the current course installed at Riverside Park in 2004. While they have their eyes on a few different parks, a 9-hole course that spans both Stange’s and Kitchenette parks is first on their list.
“This is probably the cheapest and easiest place to install it,” Pfantz said.
They have already drawn up a prospective course map and practiced playing the course. Gulke and Pfantz met with Parks and Recreation Director Dan Wendorf to go over the layout last week. Wendorf said he appreciates the efforts of the young disc golf enthusiasts.
“They have an interest in disc golf and they’ve taken it upon themselves to get involved,” Wendorf said. “I have to applaud these guys, who are making this passion of theirs something we can share with the community.”
Wendorf said the Parks and Recreation Commission has been receptive to the idea as a new amenity that can be added to Stange’s and Kitchenette parks.
“It adds a whole new demention to the park and a form of recreation that current park users can take advantage of,” he said. “Ultimately, this is another use that can attract people to the park and the community also.”
The project would involve installing baskets for each hole, along with concrete tee pads and signage.
Disc golf is similar to traditional golf. Players throw a golf disc (a specially-designed “fisbee”) from a tee toward a target (the basket). The goal is to reach the basket in as few throws as possible.
The game is accessible to men, women and children of all ages. The cost of equipment is minimal and most courses are located in public parks, which means there is typically no admission fees.
Wisconsin has hosted professional and amateur world championship tournaments. The world’s largest disc golf complex is located in Wisconsin, near Ashland.
Merrill DG plans to organize a league, bold clinics for beginners and eventually host tournaments in Merrill.
Donation amounts from $25 to the $1,000 hole sponsorship are being sought. To donate to the project, make checks payable to City of Merrill with “disc golf” in the memo line and mail to 1100 Marc Dr., Merrill, WI 54452.
More information can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MerrillDG.