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For the love of the (disc) game - New disc golf course integrates its surroundings

Paul Wright throws his disc with force Tuesday at the Bud Pell at Ross Farms course. - Julie Fergus/staff photo
Paul Wright throws his disc with force Tuesday at the Bud Pell at Ross Farms course.
— image credit: Julie Fergus/staff photo

For some it is shoes, but you could say that Paul Wright has a fetish for discs.

“He probably has about 1,000,” said his wife Pam Wright.

When designing and building the course off Waaga Way, Paul Wright took an equally obsessive approach to get a feel for the contours and features of the land. He did it by walking.

The walking started about four months ago, and after about 70 hours of strolling through the property, he finally sat down to draw out the master plan.

The course incorporates many materials that were already on the property. Benches and tee signs were constructed out of lumber on the property, donated by broker Ron Ross.

The result is a unique, challenging 18-hole course owned by the West Sound Disc Golf Association, which weaves through pastures and woods.

“It has a completely different feel,” he said Tuesday of the woods disc golfers enter after playing the first two holes in open grass fields.

The course opened June 15, and has already seen some use.

Some of it has come from Paul Wright himself, who stops almost every day, a tradition that started with his survey walks

“He would have come in the middle of the night when he was thinking about it, but it was dark,” said Pam Wright.

When Paul and Pam Wright walked through the course on Tuesday, he could tell that the course has seen increased “foot traffic” because of changes in brush accumulation on the paths, he said.

While on the walk through, Paul Wright also inspected tee pads and baskets, and even golfed a couple holes.

The land is sandwiched between cow pastures and the paint ball course at Northwest Golf Range. The disc golf course was modified to accommodate these neighbors through the construction of an electric fence to keep cows out and an alternate starting point for one of the holes to be used when paint ball is in session.

Unlike the other disc golf facilities in the area, this is a “championship level course,” said Paul Wright.

The disc golf association does not set a list of qualifications to determine whether a course reaches this distinction. Rather, players decide which courses in the area deserve this classification.

This is a longer, more difficult course than the other courses in the area, Paul Wright said

“Good courses develop good players and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” he added.

The course includes one hole that’s par five, seven holes that are par four and ten holes that are par three.

Most of the other courses in the area only have par three holes, said Paul Wright. Bud Pell at Ross Farm’s length and difficulty follow national trends for course construction, he added.

The second hole of the course is 1,022 feet, said Paul Wright. This is the longest hole in the state, he added.

“We have courses in the area for players of all levels. Hopefully our more experienced players will spend more time out here,” he said.

The course was named after two people — Bud Pell and Ron Ross.

Pell, who died about three years ago, was an avid volunteer.

“We wanted to honor his efforts and it seemed like a great opportunity to name the course after him,” said Wright.

Paul Wright said that Ross has been highly receptive and helpful from the start of the project, when Paul Wright met with him to discuss the benefits the course would provide for the community.

On the weekends, Ross still helps Paul Wright and his team prepare the course for public use, from riding his tractor to mow lawns to hauling brush piles out of the way, Paul Wright said.

Disregarding a few small tasks, such as tournament pad installation and lawn mowing, the course is up and running for the public just in time for summer, said Paul Wright.

He added players will be happy once the long grasses are trimmed because disc golfers often lose their discs in the tall blades. In tournaments, players would only be allowed three minutes to find these discs. But lucky for players on the course now, there is no time limit to finish the course. But completing the course is no short endeavor - according to Wright it takes about three hours.

The association hopes to host national tournaments at the new course in the future. In order to do so, the course will need to gain more popularity, and if this happens the Professional Disc Golf Association will come to inspect it, said Wright.

“We need to prove to the PDGA that we’re ready to take on the national tournament,” he added.

In the meantime, the course will host the B-tier Professional Disc Golf Association tournament on September 24.

The association ranks tournaments either A, B, C or National tour. As the tiers increase, tournament rules and regulations become stricter. Players earn points from the association for winning these tournaments, and earn more points from higher-tiered tournaments. Players accumulate these points to enter tournaments such as the world championships.

Tournament competitors for this local tournament will play on the Bud Pell at Ross Farms course, in addition to the other two courses in the Central Kitsap area — NAD Park in Bremerton and the Fairgrounds Course at Gordon Field.

The association hopes to host 215 players, divided into 10 divisions, said Paul Wright. Players can designate which division they want to play in, depending on their skill level.

There are no necessary qualifications to enter the tournament, and people can register online at www.wsdga.org.

Paul Wright and other volunteers from the association take care of all the maintenance for the course.

Use of the Bud Pell at Ross Farms course is free to the public, as long as disc golfers bring their own discs.  The course is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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