FRISBEE GOLF, ANYONE?
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
Sam Sorensen was late in his first term as the mayor of Freeman when he suggested the city build a Frisbee golf course on the grounds of the Swimming Pool Park — an idea that never materialized.
It was only a matter of time.
Today, more than four years after the former mayor pitched the idea, a brand-new Freeman Frisbee Golf Course is ready to welcome guests. But it’s not at the Swimming Pool Park or as a project of the city, but rather on the southern side of the Freeman Prairie Arboretum and as a project of Sorensen’s most recent passion — the Freeman Lions Club.
“It went fast,” said Sorensen, who has worked closely with fellow Freeman Lions Club member Terry Waterman and others in getting the project up and running the past five months. That effort has also included a key partnership with the board that oversees the Freeman Prairie Arboretum, as well as the Freeman Academy Board of Directors, which ultimately controls the grounds of the 40-acre vista located on the southwestern corner of the city.
Both boards were enthusiastic about the idea and signed off on the project.
“The arboretum is a perfect spot, especially there on the south side; it’s out of the way and it’s not being utilized,” said Sorensen. “We made a few changes to the layout at their request, they said, ‘That will work,’ and that was it.
“The arboretum folks and the school board, they have been very helpful and supportive of this, and we are so grateful.”
The Freeman Frisbee Golf Course is free to play and open to the public starting this week. The course is clearly marked with nine tee boxes that indicate the position of the goal, as well as where the next hole begins. Hole No. 1 is located just off the gravel driveway/parking area (the former Klasi farm) near the corner of Cedar Street and the South County Road.
Play continues to the east and weaves through the southern portion of the arboretum, wraps back around to the west and concludes near the start of the course.
No discs are provided, although Heritage Hall Museum & Archives is planning to both sell and rent them. They are expected to be available by the end of next week and in time for the July 30 South Dakota Chislic Festival.
A traditional Frisbee can also be used, but the specialized discs are better regulated for the sport.
All the equipment that has been installed is official regulation and comes from Disc Golf Association (DGA), which also initially helped Sorensen with the layout of the course. That layout was tweaked by Sorensen and Waterman after they identified the Prairie Arboretum as an ideal location, with two holes altered at the request of the FA board.
“And (DGA) gave us background on, if it’s a 200 foot hole it’s a par 3, if it’s a 400 foot hole it’s a par 5,” said Waterman. “They gave us those guidelines.”
Eighteen holes were dug (nine for the tee boxes and nine for the goals) and filled with a concrete base by Sorensen and one of his grandsons about a month ago, with the installation of signage and the baskets completed early this week. The only thing left to install is the signage identifying each hole sponsor.
Players will find a QR code at each tee box they can scan with the camera on their phone that will take them to the Freeman Lions Club website, where they will find a link to Freeman Frisbee Golf, which shows both the layout of the course and provides players with a scorecard.
“Frisbees or discs is all they need to play,” said Waterman, who actually brought up the idea of Frisbee golf not knowing Sorensen had suggested it to the city council several years ago. “I was looking for something else for the Lions Club to do, so I brought up Frisbee golf, and he showed me all the plans he already had.”
Sorensen said the Freeman Frisbee Golf Course, which is about 1¼ miles to walk in full, is just another boon for the community.
“It’s just something else to do,” he said. “This could be a big thing that draws people to town.”
“I have not heard a single bad word about this from anybody,” said Waterman. “Everybody is looking forward to going out there and playing. I think the first year we’re going to see a lot of activity out there.”
The course cost just over $12,000 to build. It has been funded thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Freeman Community Foundation and $3,000 from the Lions Club. Other funds have come from donations and hole sponsors and the Freeman Lions Club is planning a major, 18-hole fundraiser at Valley View Golf Course on Aug. 13 to fund the balance of the project (see the accompanying story).
“We should have it paid for,” said Sorensen, who encourages the public to go out and play a round.
“Frisbee golf is such a fun activity for all ages,” Sorensen said. “You’ve got to go out there, have some fun and see that beautiful scenery of the arboretum.”