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This article is from the Willows Journal

Disc golf takes flight
Tuesday, Sep 9 2008, 7:56 pm
Michael Green/Editor

It’s cheap, it’s fun and you get to say “Anhyzer” with no “Busch” attached.

Disc golf has arrived in Willows with the installation of a 9-hole course in Central Park. Professional players will find it too short for their liking, with the longest hole about 250 feet, but it’s a good option for amateurs and new players.

“I’m just out here working on my short game,” said Andy Taylor, 25, who just moved back to Willows from Chico. “It’s better than nothing for this town, for sure.”

Taylor has been golfing for a year and a half, mostly at longer, 18-hole courses in Chico and Oroville. In the two weeks the Willows course has been open, he’s scored three aces.

Oops, make that four. He slammed another disc in the chains on Hole 7 during an interview Monday afternoon.

“My heart’s beating pretty fast,” Taylor said after pumping his fists in the air. “It always feels pretty good.”

That’s exactly the feeling Billy Throm had in mind when he conceived the course more than a year ago. An avid disc golfer for seven years, he pitched the idea as a capital project when he was Willows Rotary president last year.

“It literally took almost my entire Rotary year to get it set up and ready to go,” Throm said. “Disc golf is a great recreational opportunity for all ages, and it’s fairly inexpensive. A real nice 18-hole course can be put in for $10,000, which is a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of other (park) equipment.”

That ballpark estimate held true, as the total cost of the Willows course is about $5,000. A proposed 18-hole course at Black Butte Lake west of Orland is expected to cost about $7,200, according to Rick Leis, who helped design the Willows course with Throm.

“As a promoter of the sport, my goal is to spread the love throughout the region,” said Leis, who’s president of the Chico Disc Golf Club and founder of the Orland Aces. The Willows course isn’t up to pro standards, he acknowledged, but it wasn’t designed to be.

“We’re making a community park here. That’s the key,” Leis said. “The focus is on children and families.”

That’s part of the draw for Ken Kessler of Willows, who was intrigued when the baskets went in at Central Park. Now he has a set of starter discs and more on the way.

“Because it’s right there in Central Park and it’s free, it’s more of a family thing,” Kessler said. “My kids are teenagers and they don’t want to hang out with their parents anymore, but I’ve been out twice in the last couple weeks with my sons, and it’s been kind of neat.”

It’s also a smallish business opportunity. Jon Hays, owner of Westside Outdoorsman on Tehama Street, said he’s working up an order for discs that should arrive soon.

“I’ve lived in Willows all my life, so I’m really into getting things for kids to do,” Hays said. While prices vary, a set of three beginner discs can cost as low as $25.

As for the course itself, it’s not quite finished, but word is already getting out. Throm went to the park with his family on Labor Day so his children could use the playground. Dad got to play, too, but he had to wait in line.

“There were four different groups, so I had to jump between holes just to get a round in,” Throm said. “That was surprising.”

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