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Disc golf popularity growing in county

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Photo by Tamie Meck The Delta County Fairgrounds Disc Golf Course in Hotchkiss opened last fall and is the only 18-hole course in the North Fork area. The course was designed and installed by members of the MOD Squad (Montrose, Olathe, Delta) Disc Golf Cl

If you're looking for a way to stay active, have fun, and meet new people this summer, consider disc golf.

As the name suggests, disc golf is played in a fashion similar to golf, but using Frisbee-like disc putters and drivers. While the sport has been around since the 1920s, its popularity has grown quickly in recent years.

Interest in the sport in the Delta County area is growing, said Patrick Winner, a Delta representative for the MOD Squad (Montrose, Olathe, Delta) Disc Golf Club. The club was formed four years ago and has really taken off in the last year, with membership growing from 50 to 75 members.

"We're all for growing the sport in the area," said Winner. It's a healthy sport that involves walking and hiking with a purpose, and gets people outdoors, he said.

Opportunities to play disc golf are plentiful in the Delta County area. Courses range from a few practice holes to professionally-designed 18-hole courses. Delta has two courses, a 9-hole course at Tamarac Park at Bluff and East 12th streets, and the newest course in the county, an 18-hole course at Confluence Park. With two par four holes, water hazards, long distances between holes (it covers a lot of area), and lots of trees, the Confluence Park course is the more challenging of the two and one of the more challenging courses in the area, said Winner.

Montrose has an 18-hole course at River Bottom Park, and the Town of Olathe runs an 18-hole course on 12th Street. Leagues meet throughout the week and at different courses. Tuesdays are doubles league at Montrose, Wednesdays are casual league days, and a newly-formed ladies league, recently organized by Winner's wife, Ashley, plays every second and fourth Wednesday at the Olathe and Tamarac courses.

Membership in the MOD Squad club is free and open to everyone. For those who don't own their own discs, "Come anyway," said Winner. "There's always more than enough."

In the North Fork area, an 18-hole course opened last fall at the Delta County Fairgrounds in Hotchkiss. Located between the fairgrounds and the North Fork River, the course was designed and installed by MOD Squad members, and paid for with Delta County Commissioner Mark Roeber's Colorado Lottery funds account.

For the more competitive players, the eight-tournament Peaks and Valleys Disc Golf Tournament Series is under way. The fourth tournament of the series is scheduled for July 22 at River Bottom Park in Montrose, and coincides with the Colorado FUNC Fest. On Sept. 16 the tour moves to the Confluence Park course, and the series will wrap up in November, said Winner. (For a schedule and more information, visit the 2017 Peaks & Valley disc golf tournament series or MOD Squad Facebook pages.)

Hotchkiss is not on the tournament schedule this year, said Winner. The club is looking for someone to coordinate events for Hotchkiss and get the course on the 2018 tournament schedule. If anyone is interested, they can contact the MOD Squad through its Facebook page.

Fees and registration are required for tournaments, with proceeds going to the Delta Disc Golf Improvement Fund. Each year they rotate cities between Montrose, Delta and Olathe, said Winner. Last year about $4,000 went to improvements at the Olathe course.

Kids also love the sport, said Winner, whose 5- and 8-year-olds ask to play every day. When the MOD Squad held a youth clinic during the June 3 Outdoor Heritage Days at Confluence Park, 150 kids participated.

Because they are smaller in area and the baskets (holes) are placed closer together, both the Tamarac and Hotchkiss courses are perfect for kids, said Winner. At Hotchkiss, "You can see the kids from every hole."

There's also a "Mini MOD" youth league for ages 15 and under that meets there every other Tuesday at Tamarac Park.

Baskets are also located at Apple Valley Park in Paonia, at Vision School in Cedaredge, and at Delta Middle School. A new league is now being formed in the Paonia area. Organizer Josh Griggs said the league will use the Apple Valley baskets and a private course in the area for league practices and competitions. The long-term goal is to participate in tournaments and create more opportunities for people to play in the North Fork area.

Apple Valley doesn't have a set course, but people are always finding new ways to make it challenging, he said. "It's interesting how creative people are when the course doesn't have a set layout."

Anyone interested in joining can attend an organizational meeting this Sunday at 4 p.m., at Apple Valley Park. The league is open to all levels. For those new to the sport, a demonstration doubles round will be played at the meeting. For details, contact Griggs through the Paonia Disc Golf League Facebook page.

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