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Elevating the Game: State of Utah Disc Golf – 2023 Year in Review

As the sun sets on 2023, it's clear that Utah has firmly established itself as a burgeoning haven for disc golf enthusiasts. This year has been a remarkable journey, marked by extraordinary growth, community engagement, and a series of ambitious projects that have reshaped the landscape of the sport in the Beehive State. From new courses springing up in unexpected places to the revitalization of old favorites, Utah's disc golf scene has not just expanded; it has evolved, offering new experiences and challenges for players of all levels.

In this recap, we'll traverse the state from the snow-kissed mountains of the north to the sun-bathed valleys of the south, exploring each significant development that has contributed to this vibrant growth. Join us as we celebrate the milestones, acknowledge the challenges, and look ahead to the promising future of disc golf in Utah.

The North: Pioneering Projects and Resilient Revivals

In Northern Utah, 2023 has been a year of ambitious ventures and triumphant comebacks in the world of disc golf, setting the stage for an exciting future.

Logan's Leap into Disc Golf Greatness

The City of Logan stepped into the spotlight with a significant financial boost from a $750,000 Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant, earmarked for the construction of a $2.3 million "Logan Outdoor Recreation Complex." This complex is set to feature an 18-hole disc golf course sprawling over 61 acres, promising to be a major draw for players across the region. With the renowned Infinite Discs lending their support to the initiative, anticipation is high. The grant's stipulation for expenditure by the end of 2024 hints at rapid progress and developments we can expect to see unfold soon.

The Fort: Rising from the Waters

The Fort, a beloved local course, showcased remarkable resilience following the floods of 2023. Rather than merely repairing the damage, the course saw significant enhancements, including the installation of half of the planned red tee pads. These new additions cater to a broader range of skill levels, inviting more players to enjoy and score on the course. This revival has been spearheaded by Cody Nebekner, Disctracted, and Weber County, who have worked tirelessly to ensure the course remains a year-round destination for disc golfers.

New Additions Up North: GreyHawk and Cold Water Canyon

The disc golf tapestry of Northern Utah has been further enriched by the efforts of Dave Adamson and the city of Layton with the introduction of GreyHawk, a new 9-hole course that promises fun and challenges. Complementing this, Kyle Hunter and North Ogden have brought to life the Coldwater Canyon Disc Golf Course. These new courses not only add to the variety of playing options in the region but also reflect the growing enthusiasm and commitment towards disc golf in Northern Utah.

The Mountains: Majestic Backdrops and Championship Caliber Play

In the breathtaking heights of Utah's mountains, 2023 brought with it events and changes that have significantly elevated the disc golf scene, begging us to ask the question of: Why should the Disc Golf Pro Tour embrace mountain golf?

Utah State Championships: A Mountainous Achievement

The picturesque courses of Brighton Ski Resort and The Wasatch Wunder took center stage this year as they hosted the prestigious 2023 Utah State Championships. This event wasn't just a tournament; it was a celebration of the sport, set against the stunning backdrop of the Wasatch mountains. ElevateUT Disc Golf, The Salt Lake City Tunnel Runners, and Mountain Air Disc Golf joined forces to bring the Central Coast Disc Golf production team to Utah. Their mission? To capture the essence of disc golf in our majestic mountains. The footage is nothing short of spectacular, showcasing the high-level play and scenic beauty of our courses. For those who missed the live action, the Central Coast Disc Golf channel offers a chance to relive the excitement and drama of the tournament.

Brighton's Evolution: Adaptation and Anticipation

Change was also in the air at Brighton this year. The introduction of a new ski lift necessitated a redesign of the course, temporarily rendering several holes unplayable. But with change comes opportunity. Chaz Critchfield, the visionary behind the course's design and installation, is already planning updates for 2024. These changes aren't just arbitrary; they're informed by substantial player feedback, ensuring that the new course layout will not only meet but exceed the community's expectations.

The Wunder's Final Form

Significantly, The Wasatch Wunder also underwent its transformation into its final form. This slight redesign, coupled with final touches in landscaping, has polished this course into a pristine disc golf haven. The alterations were not just cosmetic; they strategically enhanced the playability and aesthetic appeal, making the Wunder a standout course in the region. The dedication and hard work of countless volunteers have been instrumental in this metamorphosis, ensuring that The Wunder is not only a testament to the beauty of Utah's mountains but also to the spirit of its disc golf community.

Salt Lake County: Revitalizations and New Horizons

As we venture into the Valley, the focus shifts to Salt Lake County, a pivotal region for disc golf in Utah, marked by significant updates, potential changes, and exciting new ventures in 2023.

Creekside Park: A Historic Course Reimagined

Creekside Park, one of the oldest disc golf courses in the world and a cornerstone of Utah’s

disc golf community, witnessed a major transformation this year. Acknowledging the course's need for rejuvenation, Salt Lake County made substantial investments. The updates include vast 2x4 meter tee pads, comfortable benches, and modernized baskets, significantly enhancing the playing experience. Moreover, there’s a grand plan to replant native, non-noxious trees in 2024, which will not only beautify the course but also contribute positively to the local ecosystem.

Valley Regional's Uncertain Future

The fate of Valley Regional Park's disc golf course currently hangs in the balance. The new County Master Plan suggests relocating the course to a smaller area within the park. However, amidst swirling rumors, there's hope that it will retain its 18-hole glory. This situation underscores the importance of community involvement; staying informed and attending park planning meetings could play a crucial role in shaping the course's future.

Bingham Regional Park: A Work in Progress

A new addition to the county's disc golf scene is the Bingham Regional Park Disc Golf Course, situated next to Daybreak. This course, featuring gentle elevation changes and yardage signage, is still finding its footing, as evidenced by the current landscape of weeds and lack of shade. The Daybreak Disc Golf Club, a long-established group even before the course's installation, is actively guiding the Park Authority board in enhancing the course. Those interested in contributing to this effort are encouraged to connect with Dan Langford and the Daybreak Disc Golf Club on Facebook for more information and involvement opportunities.

Butterfield Canyon: A Whisper of Possibility

Rumors are circulating about Salt Lake County's interest in Butterfield Canyon as a potential new disc golf course location. While still in the realm of speculation, this prospect adds an exciting dimension to the future of disc golf in the county, hinting at more diverse playing environments and opportunities for expansion.

Salt Lake Municipalities: Building Dreams and Shaping Futures

As we explore further into Salt Lake County, the municipalities of West Jordan, Herriman, and Draper stand out for their unique contributions and ambitious visions for the future of disc golf.

West Jordan: New Courses and Grand Plans

West Jordan has made a notable entry into the disc golf scene with the installation of The Tetons, a charming 9-hole course that has quickly become a local favorite. But the city's aspirations don't stop there. There's a grand vision to construct a premier 18-hole course at Sycamores Open Space, located at the end of 7800 South. This 50-acre plot, boasting varied elevations and ample space, is ripe for developing a destination course that could attract players from far and wide. Residents of West Jordan are encouraged to voice their support to the city council, advocating for the allocation of tax dollars towards this promising project.

Herriman’s Disc Golf Ambitions

In Herriman, the story of disc golf is one of untapped potential. The city currently holds 18 Discatchers from a previous project, waiting to be put to use. Plans are afoot to install these at the Juniper Canyon Recreation Area, but significant funding is needed to bring this vision to life. This project represents an opportunity for Herriman to create a new recreational asset that could enhance the local disc golf landscape significantly.

Draper’s Investment in Disc Golf: Project "Thistlebend"

Draper has made a substantial commitment to disc golf this year, receiving $50k in state funding from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, matched with an additional $50k from their own funds. This investment is fueling the development of the Draper Rotary Disc Golf Course, also known as Project "Thistlebend." Progress on the course is well underway, with fairways seeded with low-growing grass and plans to seed the rough with taller grass and sagebrush. The addition of buck and rail fencing and the spreading of mulch on greens are shaping the course's character. The city plans to open the bid for a contractor to install the course in February, with basket installation expected as soon as the ground firms up in spring.

Tooele's Trailblazing Course: Community Efforts and the Dow James Journey

Before heading further south, we'd be remiss to not talk about the Dow James course in Tooele, the city's first 18-hole disc golf course. Another course that received a small amount of funding on the premise of the community taking on the job of designing, installing and maintaining the park. This is a good way of gaining some momentum out of the gate, but as we've seen, can become unmanageable if nature takes over. The hope is that the course gets played enough to make the case that the city should understand what they have and maintain and improve the course.

Utah County: A Hub of Growth and Community Engagement

As we delve into Utah County, it's evident that the region has become a dynamic hub for disc golf, characterized by significant growth, community-driven initiatives, and municipal support.

Lehi's Dragonfly: A Testament to Community and City Collaboration

At the Dragonfly course in Lehi, the past year has been transformative. The course's nature explosion outpaced the capacity of its dedicated volunteers, necessitating municipal intervention. Thankfully, the City of Lehi responded to the community's call, recognizing the course's value to residents and visitors alike. Their recent efforts in cleaning and maintaining the course have been akin to a holiday gift for the local disc golf community. It's a great time to show appreciation to the City of Lehi for their support – a simple message through their text message program can go a long way.

Highland City's New Venture

Highland City is making its mark with the development of a new 9-hole beginner-friendly course at Town Center Meadows Park. With an investment of $15k from city funds and an additional $15k sought through state funding, this project reflects a commitment to nurturing the sport at the grassroots level.

Developments in Eagle Mountain, Spanish Fork, and Payson

Eagle Mountain saw the completion of the Pioneer Park Disc Golf Course, now fully equipped with tee pads. In Spanish Fork at Urban Forest, the pipeline project concluded with all 18 holes of the course remaining playable, maintaining the continuity of the disc golf experience there. Payson Canyon's course received a much-needed upgrade with the installation of concrete tee pads, enhancing the overall quality and playability of the course.

Art Dye Park: A Crucial Turning Point

Art Dye Park in American Fork, a beloved hub for Utah's disc golfers, recently underwent significant changes with the construction of a Dog Park that led to the removal of holes 17 and 18. This development has sparked a broader discussion about the allocation of PARC Tax dollars in American Fork. Over the past two years, the city parks department has distributed over a million dollars from the PARC fund, with a significant portion directed towards other recreational facilities. Despite these changes, Art Dye Park remained a popular destination, recording close to 70,000 rounds of play in 2023, drawing visitors from 39 different states, and contributing significantly to the local economy through the PARC tax fund.

Recognizing the park’s vast usage and its role in driving economic benefits, ElevateUT Disc Golf is advocating for a substantial investment in Art Dye Park. A six-figure funding, considered both reasonable and necessary, could go a long way in enhancing this foundational course. Potential funding sources like the Utah Outdoor Recreation Restoration Infrastructure (RRI) grant program offer promising avenues for support. As discussions with the City of American Fork continue, the goal is to secure the deserved attention and funding for the park, ensuring it remains a premier destination for disc golf enthusiasts.

Southern Utah: Raising the Bar with Beaverwood Disc Golf Course

In Southern Utah, the new Beaverwood Disc Golf Course, created by the city of St. George and the Southern Utah Disc Golf Association, is a remarkable addition to the state's disc golf landscape. Designed to A-tier standards, this course offers an unparalleled playing experience, featuring challenging rock formations, water hazards, tight fairways, and varied elevation. Its stunning natural backdrop and high-quality design make Beaverwood a must-visit destination for disc golf enthusiasts traveling to the south of Utah.

Conclusion: Embracing the Future of Utah's Disc Golf

Reflecting on 2023, Utah's disc golf scene has shown remarkable growth, driven by community passion and innovative projects. From Tooele's community-led courses to the scenic beauty of Southern Utah's Beaverwood, these developments have enriched our sport's landscape. As we look ahead, the journey continues, and your involvement is key. Stay updated and support these ongoing efforts by joining the ElevateUT newsletter and becoming a sustaining member on Patreon. Together, let's keep shaping the vibrant future of disc golf in Utah.

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