The Estes Valley Recreation and Park District (EVPRD) is excited to announce the addition of a disc golf course at the Lake Estes 9-Hole Golf Course. The course will have a soft opening from April 1 to April 12 with play starting daily at 9 a.m. Tee times are not required during the soft opening. The course will be closed for annual maintenance from April 13 to May 9 to prepare the greens for summer play. The course will reopen on Friday, May 10 for the 2019 summer season when disc golf play will start daily at noon and tee times are encouraged.
The course, an expansion initiative to fill in the available tee times in the afternoon, provides Estes Park residents and visitors with a new alternative for mild afternoon fun in the heart of downtown Estes. The course is also one of only a few hybrid courses in Colorado combining traditional and disc golf together on one golf playground.
“We saw an opportunity to provide a new recreational sport on the nine-hole course,” said Mark Miller, Manager of Golf Services for EVRPD. “With the rising popularity of disc golf, we thought it was a logical choice to make the best use of the available space while providing something fun and active.”
Disc golf is played much like traditional golf with similar rules, scoring and etiquette. The difference is the use of plastic discs tossed from each tee and eventually sinking it in the metal chain basket. Because of the hybrid course, the disc goals have been positioned near, but not on, the existing greens so the new game will not interfere with regular golf.
The Estes Park golf courses — EVRPD also manages the Estes Park 18-Hole Golf Course located on Colorado Highway 7 — have seen revenue growth over the last few years, a strong sign for golfing in Estes Park. The Lake Estes 9-Hole Golf Course saw a six percent increase in revenue from 2015 to 2018 and the Estes Park 18-Hole Golf Course saw a 1.8 percent revenue increase for the same time frame.
The golf industry, however, is on the decline since the Great Recession of 2007-2009. According to Colorado AvidGolfer, a leading publication for the Colorado golf industry, roughly 800 courses were shuttered nationwide in the decade following the Great Recession. And the National Golf Foundation reported that total participation for the sport dropped 20 percent from 2005 to 2016. Reasons for the decline in participation include length of time for a full 18-hole round, overall cost to play, difficulty to understand the rules, and coolness factor for kids.
“We saw disc golf as an ideal solution to these challenges, especially for attracting a younger player,” said Miller. “By placing this game on the nine-hole course rather than the 18-hole, we overcome the challenge of length of time. And a round of disc golf takes much less time to complete than traditional golf. The cost is also substantially lower at only $5 per player.”
Disc golf has grown in popularity since the first course opened in 1975. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, there are more than 6,300 disc golf courses in the U.S. and the association’s membership increased almost 13 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Discs are available to borrow at the Lake Estes 9-Hole Golf Course or players may bring their own. Season passholders for Estes Park Golf Courses have the added bonus of playing disc golf at no additional charge.
In addition to the opening of the disc golf course, the Estes Park 18-Hole Golf Course is gearing up for a great 2019 season after celebrating the course’s 100th birthday in 2018. The course will open for the summer on Saturday, April 13 at 8 a.m. The pro shop opened April 1 and will be open daily through October 31. And EVRPD management is excited to have Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ return as the concessionaire for the Hangar Restaurant at the 18-hole course. They also opened on Monday, April 1, and will be open daily for breakfast and lunch through October 31; dinner will be added as the hours expand for the golf course in June.
For additional information about the Estes Park golf courses, the disc golf course or tee times, call 970-586-8146 or visit golfestes.com.
About Estes Valley Recreation and Park District: Estes Valley Recreation and Park District is a quasi-municipal corporation and political subdivision of the State of Colorado. Established in 1955, the organization’s goals are to plan, direct, organize and implement recreational programs, manage facilities and provide public park and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors of the District, an area that encompasses 320 square miles.