The following is an email sent twice to Lafayette Channel 1 news. It is written by Meredith Flynn and Barbara Jo Kammer who are gearing up for a fight with the Lafayette city council who plan on putting a Disc Golf course in the park across from their home. This is not simply a case of the neighbors being Nimbies, but a real concern for the safety . Further research by LC1 shows a history of serious injury in disc golf and its occurrence around the USA. Injuries include missing digits and severe brain trauma. The discs are hard and move at up to 80 miles per hour. They are not freebies. Who would have guessed?

11 disc golfSusan Koster, the City Clerk, got back to me on our questions. If we have handouts, we give them to her before the meeting and she will put them at the Councilors’ places on the dais.

Each speaker is allowed 5 minutes. Council will listen to everyone. If there are so many people that Council is unable to conduct their scheduled business, they may opt to convene another meeting in order to give everyone an opportunity to speak. Susan said this is totally up to Council and she cannot predict what they might do.

I put together a summary of ten main points why disc golf does not belong at Waneka Lake. Let me know if you have any additions or changes you think should be made.


Top Ten Reasons Why a Disc Golf Course Does Not Belong at Waneka Lake Park

1. It’s not what the majority of Lafayette citizens want.

According to the Lafayette Parks, Recreation, Open Space & Trails Master Plan Survey 2012, pages 27-31, Disc Golf ranked very low in the list of outdoor facilities that people want added, improved, or expanded.  What ranked high on the list was “Additional park areas incorporating both native and manicured park type”. If you take a native park area and turn it into a disc golf course, you are taking away something people have told the city they want more of and giving the people something they have told the city they have little interest in.

2. It’s unlawful.

Lafayette Code of Ordinances, Chapter 80, Article 4

Sec. 80-59. Firearms and other missiles prohibited.

It shall be unlawful for any person to use, carry, or possess air rifles, spring guns, bow and arrows, slings, or any other forms of weapons; it shall further be unlawful to possess or use fireworks of any kind or nature; it shall further be unlawful to play golf or hit any golf balls.

(Ord. No. 1985-15, § 2, 6-4-85; Ord. No. 2005-8, § 1, 3-1-05)

Golf balls are included in the section on “prohibited missiles”. According to the city’s own code, it is unlawfull to hit golf balls at Waneka Lake Park. A golf disc is a “missile” that can cause every bit as much—if not more—damage to person and property than a golf ball and therefore should be prohibited from the park according to Lafayette’s Code of Ordinances.

3.  It will result in environmental degradation.

Even the Professional Disc Golf Players Association acknowledges that a major concern with disc golf is soil erosion. The article “Assessing the Ecological Impact Due to Disc Golf” in the International Journal of Sport Management, Recreation & Tourism examines the ecological footprint of disc golf. In the study, three ecological markers were used as indicators of ecological degradation: soil erosion, soil compaction and density of vegetation cover. Results from the study conclude that disc golf significantly increases soil compaction, which yields greater soil erosion and a decrease in vegetation cover. Soil compaction due to human trampling is a problem with severe consequences. (See “Ecological Impact Due to Disc Golf” article attached to this email).

4.  It’s potentially dangerous.

Discs used in disc golf are not the same as the Frisbees people use to play catch. They weigh 3 ½ times more than a golf ball. Even junior players can throw discs at 40MPH. More accomplished players can throw discs at speeds up to 75 and 80MPH. People hit by flying discs can be severely injured. Given where the current holes are placed, discs are going to be flying across heavily used trails. Even if disc golfers yell “fore” warnings, many people walk with headphones and won’t hear.

5. It is not compatible with the existing use of the park.

To help him design better disc golf courses at Boy Scout camps, Steve West created a statistical model of Boy Scout disc golf skills. He collected data on how far and how accurately Boy Scouts throw a disc. From this data, a model was developed for simulating large numbers of throws. His model can be used to replace guesses about where the discs will land with numbers based on data. The average Boy Scout routinely throws discs as much as 120 feet or more to the right or left of the fairway. If West’s scatter plots are superimposed on top of the proposed holes at the Waneka Lake Park, you will see that discs are going to cross well used trails, hit the Waneka Granary (which is on the Lafayette Register of Historic Places), land in streets and back yards.

6.  Disc golfing requires a large amount of space devoted to a single use.

Regardless of the intent of the disc golf course creators, the nature of disc golf has the effect of discouraging non-golfers from using the area. What typically happens is that once a course is installed, players came to consider it as their own and show little patience for other casual users of the area. Since it makes sense that no one takes a casual walk through a regular golf course, they will most likely not, for their own safety, take a walk on a well-used disc golf course either.

7. Other cities are closing down disc golf courses due to safety and environmental degradation.

8. Sufficient time was not allowed for input from stakeholders.

A letter was sent out April 24 to people whose homes are adjacent to the course. The letter said the Recreation and Parks Departments were “in the process” of developing a disc golf course and that comments and questions would be accepted through May 9, giving the impression that the city was accepting input as to whether or not this disc golf course was a good idea. Yet at the very same time the letter went out, an announcement that a disc golf course “is coming” to Waneka Lake this summer was posted at the lake indicating that the installation of the course was a done deal and any comments or questions Parks and Rec receives in reality do not matter. No one other than the people living adjacent to the course was notified. Even though the Waneka Granary will undoubtedly be hit by flying discs, the Historical Society was not notified. The birding groups that frequent the park were not notified. Many people other than those living right by the park have a stake in how that land is used, yet no one was notified. This leaves the impression that this whole project is being rail-roaded through by the Recreation and Parks Departments.

9. The current disc golf course is underutilized and in disrepair.

The disc golf course at the Bob Burger Recreation Center fell into disuse and disrepair. If that course fell into disrepair, what is to prevent a course at Waneka Lake from falling into disrepair?

10. Because of growing safety concerns, disc golf course designers recommend disc golf courses be exclusive use only.

The following is a quote from Gregg Hosfeld who is:

3-time Professional Disc Golf Association World Champion
4-time United States Grand Master Disc Golf Champion
Disc Golf Hall of Fame inductee-Class of 1998
World Record Holder: “Most Courses Played” – 1,151
Disc Golf Design Group-Senior Designer
Co-founder World Champion Disc Golf Design

“I truly LOVE seeing the growing popularity of disc golf. I’ve been competing in tournaments since 1976 and giving lessons since the early 80s.  I think it is a wonderful game for the entire family.

In the late 1970′s when disc golf was introduced, ALL flying discs were fairly lightweight and rounded edged. In other words, great for lofty flights and a game of throw & catch. As the game became more competitive and more geared toward sport, weight was added and then more streamlined aerodynamics were introduced. Over the years, these aerodynamics have been refined into some fast midrange discs and VERY fast “drivers”. Along with the “improvements” in disc technology, so must awareness of what that brings to the game. These high-tech discs, in the hands of a pro, can produce seemingly magically controlled flights. But in the hands of an inexperienced player, they can veer radically off the intended course.  Very similar to a ’1-wood’ in standard golf in that regard. Simply put, “Faster” is harder to control. Same with cars, airplanes and anything hand propelled. I NEVER recommend these high-speed discs to newer players. Nor can I stop them.

With that in mind, we should consider that golf courses are designed to be exclusive-use areas; golf ONLY. Why? Those little balls are hard and they can hurt. Disc golf has been increasingly moving in the direction of exclusive-use areas, for the same reasons of safety. Any responsible disc golf course designer understands that. Unfortunately, many people in the parks & rec industry are only vaguely familiar with the game and have no reason to think that discs are any different now than in the 1970s.”