One of the good things to come out of the pandemic is the rising interest in disc golf throughout Central Oregon, and quite frankly, the world. The sport checks all the boxes for social distancing, being an outdoor
activity, and provides an easy entry for all ages and abilities. What Steve Bachtel and other members of a local club see is a lot of interest in the sport.
"In 2016, we had maybe 45 members, but now we are at 250 plus," said Bachtel vice-president of the Central Oregon Disc Golf Club. Disc golf benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic, not just in Central Oregon but nationwide, as players were seeking an outdoor activity with social distancing. Inspiring kids and parents to play are also on Bachtel's radar as he helps teach disc golf workshops through Bend Park and Recreation District.
"When I came on the CODGC board, my thing was, let's get some new courses here in Bend," said Bachtel. "If you compare the number of courses we have compared to Salem, they probably have four to five times the number of courses that we have." Partnering with BPRD, Bachtel and the club raised $4,000-5,000 for baskets and tee boxes, and along with BPRD installed a pilot seasonal course at Skyline Park near Central Oregon Community College, open Nov. 1 to Feb. 28—although in 2023 the course will stay open until March 31. The in-town location and short course proved to be convenient and fun.
In association with that growth, below are some local upcoming disc golf events. Spectators are also welcome to attend.
Women's Global Event: Sisters in Sisters – Aug. 6
The Pro Disc Golf Association-sponsored Women's Global Event began in 2012 and is now a biannual event.
"The event was created by my daughter Valarie Jenkins [Doss], and the reason she wanted to do this was to encourage women to learn how to complete in disc golf and make the sport more accessible to them," said Sharon Jenkins, tournament director. "In 2021, we had over 3,000 women in 14 countries competing." This year's WGE-Sisters in Sisters tournament is one of 121 tournaments held worldwide under the Women's Global Event banner. "I currently have 26 women registered and last year had 35," said Jenkins Doss, who is a member of the Ohio Disc Golf Hall of Fame and is a three-time Women's Master World Champion. The event will be held at the Hyzer Pine Disc Golf Course in Sisters and is open to women of all abilities.
Battle at Bachelor – Aug. 13-14
Another PDGA-sponsored event, the Battle at Bachelor, tests the skills of disc golfers along the conifer-lined course at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center.
"The Mt. Bachelor Nordic center location provides the perfect course conditions for this event," said Johnny Sereni, Mt. Bachelor director of marketing and communications. "It highlights the beautiful undulating landscapes and wilderness of the area as well as providing a challenging environment for the participants."
Tournament director Mike Beshore agrees.
"Par is 63 and the course length is about 10,000 feet," said Beshore. "With several par four and two par five holes, this adds up to a fun and challenging course which really doesn't resemble anything else we get to play here in Central Oregon." Central Oregon Disc Golf Club is hosting this B-Tier Pro and amateur event with over 100 participants registered, so far.
The course loops through the Nordic Center trails where massive mountain hemlocks and stands of lodgepole pine line the fairways with periodic views of Mt. Bachelor, South Sister and Broken Top interspersed along the way. There's a cash purse for the pro divisions and all the competitors receive a player's pack.
Disc Golf on the Horizon
Looking ahead, BPRD is reviewing its 10-year comprehensive plan, adopted by the board in 2018.
"Disc golf was identified as a moderate priority need," said Rachel Colton, BPRD park planner, "but we all know Bend has changed a lot in that short time." In 2023, BPRD will undertake an analysis of community needs and where this plan may need to be tweaked in response to those needs, especially for disc golf.
"There's a strong interest in disc golf and we've had a great relationship with the Central Oregon Disc Golf Club," added Colton. The club would like to see the development of a larger course that can be set up for beginners but also higher-end professionals for tournament events. As Colton pointed out, that may take some partnering with other agencies or developing of BPRD holdings not identified in the current plan.
Though the future is unknown, disc golf in Central Oregon is flying high.
"We see disc golf as one of the quintessential Oregon sports and are more than happy to host the event here at Mt. Bachelor," said Sereni. Stay tuned!
Sisters in Sisters
Aug. 6 Hyzer Pines DGC, Sisters
Battle at Bachelor
Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center, Bend