Disc golf proponents planning new courses in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Disc golf proponents planning new courses in Steamboat Springs

Jason Ruemelin tries to toss in a short putt in 2008 at the Thunderhead Disc Golf course at Steamboat Ski Area. The course was closed that year because of logging to remove beetle-killed trees. Disc golf proponents are working to open the course again as soon as next summer.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the year the disc golf course closed at Steamboat Ski Area.

When Colorado Mountain College closed its popular nine-hole disc golf course last year for a few months due to fire danger, the campus received plenty of pushback.

There was nowhere else to play a round in Steamboat Springs.

In the coming months, that could change as proponents of the sport are in the early stages of planning what they hope could become two additional 18-hole courses in the city.

The first would be more of a reopening of the more rugged course at Steamboat Ski Area that closed in 2008 due to logging efforts.

Aryeh Copa, a course designer and a longtime proponent of the sport, said Tuesday that the original plan was to re-establish the course this year, but planners will have to go through a new public planning process with the U.S. Forest Service before the course can proceed.

Some new bike trails in the area also will require some repositioning of the baskets that serve as the holes for the discs.

Copa said he’s hopeful the course can reopen as soon as this upcoming summer.

“The course we had at the ski area really was world class,” Copa said, recalling how he got into the sport while recovering from a knee injury he sustained while skiing. “While that course was running, a lot of locals got really into it and fell in love with disc golf.”

Since the course closed, disc golf has maintained a quieter demeanor in the area.

A Facebook page for the Steamboat Area Disc League has gone without any new posts since July 2011, when a new course opened in Hayden.

But when the city invited the community in May to help shape the future of Emerald Mountain Park, a 586-acre parcel on Emerald, the disc golf chatter was revived.

A new course was the most popular idea submitted via a website dedicated to planning the park’s future.

A conservation easement won’t allow the course there, however.

“We knew Emerald Mountain Park wasn’t the proper area for a world-class disc golf course,” Copa said. “But by showing up and making our presence known, the course was the most talked about idea. Now Parks and Rec is talking about it. City Council is talking about it.”

Copa said leaders of the Steamboat Area Disc League are in talks with the city about finding another location, possibly nearby on Emerald Mountain.

They’re expected to discuss the alternative sites at a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Oct. 23.

The planning for the new courses comes after some tumultuous years for the sport in the Yampa Valley.

An 18-hole course opened at Rita Valentine Park in 2010 after it earned initial approval from the Parks and Recreation Commission.

But the course was scrapped after some neighbors voiced opposition to it and the City Council voted to stop it, saying it needed to go through a more in-depth public planning process.

Back at CMC, Brian Hoza, the dean of student affairs, says the college’s course has remained popular since it was created in the mid-1990s by a professor and a counselor at the campus.

“It’s nice to have a variety of recreational opportunities, particularly opportunities that don’t have to cost a lot of money,” Hoza said. “The course has definitely been a success. I’d almost go as far as to say about a third of the use is students, and two-thirds is the community.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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