Hood River disc golf course a diamond in the rough

June 22, 2011

It's far too windy. The brush is really thick. There's poison oak everywhere.

Just a few things the regulars at Hood River's little-known disc golf course would like everyone to know.

And, although those claims are as false as Donald Trump's hairline, they weren't always so thin. The 4.5-acre, 9-hole course adjacent to the skate park was, until a few years ago, a city lot festering with underbrush, scotch broom and, yes, the malicious three-leaved devil weed commonly known as poison oak.

After several years of work, regular maintenance and numerous healthy doses of Benadryl and anti-itch cream, the course is a fairly wide-open, brush-free little hideaway tucked between Wasco Street and the interstate.

"The scotch broom was literally head high, and there was poison oak throughout the property," said Scott Baker, Hood River Parks and Recreation District. "It has been a slow but largely successful battle, and what you see today is enormously better."

In 2005 HRVPRD approached the City of Hood River, which owns the lot, about creating the park. With a strong volunteer base, donations and grant funding, they got started on clearing the lot and designing the town's first and only Frisbee golf course. Since then the district has maintained the lot, largely won the battle with noxious weeds and rearranged the course to best fit the landscape.

"Ideally we would have about an acre per hole, but for what we have, it has been pretty good," Baker said. "This year is the third layout we've tried, and I think it's the best."

Baker said the course currently has four sponsors (Full Sail, Double Mountain, Turtle Island Foods and Kayak Shed) and the district is looking for another five to be able to install permanent concrete pads at each of the nine holes.

Starting on the south side of the park, just across the street from the skate park, the course weaves back and forth through a surprisingly large space. From the outside, the course isn't visible; you wouldn't know it's there unless you knew it was there. And from the inside, other than the roaring of I-84, the relative hustle and bustle of downtown Hood River seems a world away; or at least farther than the half-mile that it is.

Upset at a reporter spoiling your secret spot? HRPRD is working on plans for a new, much larger park off Barrett Drive. The 32-acre open space is also a relatively open book, and public input is being accepted. A disc golf course is one of many features that have been suggested, and the more popular the existing course is, the chance there will be for an additional one.

E-mail ideas, comments or sponsorship inquires to parksandrec@gorge.net.

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