Take a deep breath, say a prayer and heave a halo to the heavens.
While that may not be everyone’s approach to disc golf, at Calvary Chapel Sequim’s Elevation Disc Golf Course, 91 S. Boyce Road, it may be appropriate.
The Rev. Hans Bailey said he, fellow pastor Jeremy Botkin, Tim Creasey and other congregation members worked to create the nine-hole disc golf course more than a year ago. The course is free and open to the public.
“We wanted to bless people because Jesus has blessed us so much,” Bailey said. “Sometimes, people feel churches want stuff from them, so we wanted to give back in some way. That’s the emphasis behind it (the course).”
Elevation already has found dedicated disc golfers, or discers, or frolfers (Frisbee golfers), like Sequim friends Chris Brown and Tony Mingoy.
They come at least once a week and find it refreshing to have a course locally. Along with more friends, the group plays rain or shine and finds some of their best scores come with precipitation.
This group isn’t alone: Disc golf, the alternative sport, became popular in the 1960s and 1970s and has grown in recent years with more than 50 courses in Washington alone.
Its rules are self-explanatory to those familiar with regular golf: Each player throws his/her disc to a basket or pole in as few throws as possible. Par is given for each hole and casual players, particularly in Sequim, use the honor system, especially when a dog who likes to play fetch tags along.
Bailey said the response has been great.
Word has slowly spread about the course through a sandwich board sign on the road, Facebook and the Professional Disc Golf Association’s website, which lists all official courses in the world.
“Last summer it seemed like five to 10 people were there every day playing,” he said.
Players travel from all over to try courses, with the peninsula offering the Sequim course, Lincoln Park in Port Angeles and H.J. Carroll Park in Chimacum. A short drive puts you at even more courses, such as Fredericksen Wilderness Disc Golf Course in Poulsbo, The Bud Pell at Ross Farm in Silverdale and Bremerton’s courses at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds and NAD Park.
Lucas Dailey of Portland, Ore., was visiting family in Sequim and has played Elevation’s course twice this trip.
He said the course looks good even though it’s not the same caliber of courses in bigger cities like Portland.
“It’s a beginner’s course and really flat,” he said. “The only real challenge is along the highway where people might be afraid to really go for it.”
Built around the church’s grounds, Elevation’s course weaves back and forth on nine holes with a few of those being somewhat risky for the newcomer.
But Bailey said the course really is for anyone and everyone.
“Discers tell me it’s a well-laid-out course and it challenges even the most skilled disc golfer,” he said.
At 28 throws for par on the course, holes two and three may be the most intimidating, as they rest parallel to U.S. Highway 101. Some players prefer to roll their discs to the baskets rather than use a regular arched throw. Yet, crunched discs along the highway aren’t uncommon.
Hole six is the longest, with a straight shot through some trees, which are scattered throughout the course.
Along the way, holes seven, eight and nine play next to out-of-bounds areas of undeveloped grassland and the church parking lot.
Hole eight provides the second longest shot of the day with a straight shot behind the church toward a large hill of homes.
Two wolf decoys sit in the middle to frighten birds from leaving waste on the nearby playground and playfield.
Hole nine is arguably the most challenging but most fun hole as players walk beside the church to shoot toward a basket next to a pond.
If you are confused about where to start, look for a kiosk sign board with a course map as you first enter the church’s main driveway. You’ll find a pad there for teeing off.
Players can use standard Frisbees or buy speciality discs that are smaller but heavier for different uses depending on the hole.
Depending on how in-depth you want to go, there are drivers, putters, mid-range discs and caddies that carry upwards of 30 discs for various situations. Locally, retail stores like Big 5 Sporting Goods sell an array of discs.
Players often carry backup discs just in case one gets stuck in a tree or lost in deep brush or water.
Elevation uses homemade baskets, which are PDGA approved, using online blueprints.
Creasey said he and others volunteered hours and donated items to create them with materials he had in his shop. He estimates each basket costs about $40 each and the cheapest he’s seen them in stores is about $100.
As for others doing a similar course in Sequim, Creasey said it’s a definite possibility.
Bailey said maintaining the course takes a lot of time and gas, but it’s worth it.
Sequim’s discing history
In 2008, some controversy arose when public discussion began on whether or not to build a disc golf course in Robin Hill Farm County Park.
Many park users grew concerned and opposed the proposition with more than 1,000 signatures. Clallam County commissioners voted later to prevent any future installation of a disc golf course at the park but it was added to the parks master plan as a future project.
Joel Winborn, Parks, Fair and Facilities Department director, said the controversy was something people didn’t see coming.
The good news for those longing for another course is that the county is considering a potential site in East Sequim with $20,000 budgeted.
Winborn said he doesn’t want to release more details until more things are in place, but he’s an advocate of disc golf. “It’d be a great thing to have in this area,” he said.
“The people with the Port Angeles course have done a great job. It’s quite popular and gets a lot of use.
The parking lot is full on the weekends. Where we’re looking at is pretty wide open.”
Michael McAleer, who originally advocated for the Robin Hill Farm course in 2006, is working with the county on this project, too.
Bailey said he was aware of the controversy at Robin Hill Park and before proceeding with Elevation’s course, they checked with the development property owners behind the church (also where the out-of-bounds falls) and he said they were OK with it.
In the City of Sequim, Jeff Edwards, parks manager, said he was considering a disc golf course in 2008 where the Albert Haller Playfields are today.
But discussions came up to develop the playfields and the city and community group Sequim Family Advocates felt a playfield would benefit more people.
Edwards said he is in favor of a disc golf course in the city but there isn’t funding available.
One potential site is at Keeler Park, a large park that the city is in the process of paying off.
“If we have funding available, that would be a nice way to start,” Edwards said about disc golf. “But we’re going to need a million dollars out there (for electricity, water and sewer) to build that park up in order to make it work.”