Ottawa Disc Golf Club

Reply to topic ODGC Forums Forum Index -> Course Conversations -> Sustainability in disc golf: What is sustainability?
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Jefrey A. Brother
King Jefrey


Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 10042
Location: First tee

PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:41 am    Post subject: Sustainability in disc golf: What is sustainability? Reply with quote

From PDGA.com:

Mike Harrington wrote:
Sustainability in disc golf: What is sustainability?
By Mike Harrington



This is the first part in a series on sustainability in disc golf course design.

Sustainability is a word that has been thrown around for many years in the green industry. For the best comparison, I will use golf course maintenance since disc golf shares many of the same concepts and design characteristics as golf. The basic definition of sustainability is, "When using a resource, the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged."

In this instance, the land is our resource. To put it in disc golf course terms it means that when a disc golf course is designed and installed, it does not get destroyed over time. A truly sustainable property will not be negatively impacted over time through normal use, and the resources needed to maintain this property will also not decrease. True sustainability is a very lofty goal, but the intent is to make our properties more sustainable with proper design/installation.

While the concepts of disc golf and golf are very similar, the two are very different when considering installation. Disc golf courses usually use natural pathways, natural terrain and natural openings through the woods. They play around or over existing bodies of water, and the grass we have on most of our fairways was already there.

Golf is the opposite of what disc golf is in this regard because they clear-cut fairways, move thousands of yards of soil, create man-made water hazards, and plant different species of grasses for their rough, fairways, tees and greens. In general, golf courses create the need for more inputs like irrigation, pesticides, daily mowing, etc. Golf has become less sustainable over time because of the demands of the golfers in terms of quality of turf and speed of the greens. I honestly think that is one of the reasons golf has taken such a hit over the last two decades.

This is where I feel disc golf can shine. We can be the sport that puts sustainability at the forefront of our designs and installations. Parks departments should be excited to see someone approach them with the idea of a disc golf course because it can actually be an asset to the park. The difficulty in shifting disc golf toward sustainability will be to get everyone to realize the impacts of the way courses are designed and installed and how that affects the property's sustainability.

Sustainability of a disc golf course would be affected mostly by safety (of the disc golfers and non-disc golf users), compaction and erosion of the soil, and loss of vegetation including existing desirable trees, turf, prairie grasses and other plants. Invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle and many more are not considered desirable.

A secondary issue would be the loss of wildlife. We do not want to claim an entire property for disc golf and force the already existing wildlife to find other areas to live or completely trample and remove the vegetation and trees that already exist. Obviously, any time humans use a property that was not previously maintained or used in that manner, there will be a change in vegetation and wildlife, but good design will allow these things to remain intact as much as possible.

Everyone who reads this article can relate to this topic because we all know of at least one course that has been removed due to safety issues, environmental concerns, compaction, erosion and/or loss of plant material. My goal in writing this series of articles is to promote sustainability and ensure that our courses remain in the ground as long as possible and the game of disc golf continues to grow and improve. I will be focusing on more specific topics and ways for those involved in course development to ensure that their projects are more sustainable.

Mike Harrington has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota with a focus in landscape design and turf and landscape management. He has spent his entire 20-year career in the green industry, primarily in golf course management and high-end residential lawn and landscape management. He wants to take his knowledge of property management and his passion for disc golf to promote good design and installation techniques in hopes of making disc golf courses more sustainable.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jefrey A. Brother
King Jefrey


Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 10042
Location: First tee

PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Designing for safety and sustainability: The playing perspective
By Mike Harrington



This is the second part in a series on sustainability in disc golf course design

Safety may not be included in the true definition of sustainability, but it definitely plays a role in the longevity of disc golf courses. When courses are designed properly, safety concerns do not arise. In the end, this reduces the resources needed to install courses from the beginning, which in turn makes them more sustainable.

When courses are designed poorly and safety issues arise, it takes extra resources to fix the problems. I am sure most of the avid players out there know of at least one course that has been pulled from the ground due to safety concerns. To truly move our disc golf courses closer toward sustainability, we need to ensure safety is one of the utmost concerns through the entire design and implementation process.

I am sure every designer's dream is to be the person to design the most incredible disc golf experience in the world with epic elevation changes, dramatic water carries, incredibly challenging tight fairways and distance that rivals golf course length. However, sometimes you have to take a step back and take what the property allows or what the property owner desires for the course.

Sometimes the designer needs to embrace providing a "recreational" experience for the local players as opposed to the championship feel for the traveling and avid players. Sometimes the designer needs to ensure that beginners are getting a course they can learn the sport on without alienating them because of too much difficulty or the potential for losing their discs. Safety needs to be a large part of this process since all courses need to be designed factoring in different levels of skill.

Errant throws will be the biggest threat of safety on a disc golf course and need to be considered in all decisions. The easiest ways to reduce the amount of safety concerns will come from good design that factors in all of the potential throws that might happen from people of all skills.

While impossible to completely eliminate all safety concerns from errant throws, the goal is to provide skill-appropriate tee placement, basket placement and fairway proximity and orientation so those issues are kept to a minimum. Tees and baskets should never be placed in close proximity to others and also far enough off adjacent fairways that discs do not get thrown into those areas.

Placement of tees


Tees need to be appropriately placed for the skill level that would most likely be playing those holes. However, we all know people of all skill levels will play, so it is up to the designer to offer alternative tees that would be suitable for the lesser skill level players and hope that they play the appropriate tee.

Consider that a beginner might not be able to handle a 300-foot throw off a large hill, but a 200-foot flat throw from the base of the hill might be more suitable. It is acceptable to have both options on this hole, but having the alternate tee available will hopefully encourage some people to throw from that location instead. As they increase their skill, they can always move to the more advanced tee location.

Orientation of fairways

Fairway proximity and orientation are the more difficult factors to address since there is no single defined point like a tee or basket where everyone will be playing from. You need to consider all potential throws from all skill levels. Think of where each skill level is likely to throw if they have their best throw.

Now think of every single skill level and where they might end up on the worst throw to the left of the fairway ... and again for the right side of the fairway. The area that encompasses all of those points is the danger zone, and no tees, baskets or other fairways should come within a close distance of the area.

This is different on wooded holes than it is on wide-open holes, which provides the greatest difficulty in course orientation. Wide-open holes require more room because the errant throws will definitely be wider spread than on a tight, wooded hole. But tight, wooded holes have their own difficulty in that discs often kick off trees and redirect them into the play areas of other holes. All of these situations need to be considered when laying out each hole and the general routing of each course.

Dogleg fairways bring a whole new element of safety concern because the dogleg creates a pinch point where errant throws are bound to end up more frequently. People who cannot execute the proper turn on their disc whether it be left to right or right to left will end up getting caught up on either side of the dogleg. This effectively makes the fairway much longer at this point and someone who misses the dogleg could end up throwing a good distance off the fairway where a wide-open, straight fairway the throwing spread is smaller.

Other uses of the park

Another large threat to safety comes from the other people using the property. It may not be other disc golfers in this instance; it is the people walking their dogs, the children playing outside the pavilion where their family reunion is happening, or people just walking through the park. These safety concerns arise at every course around the world, and I have seen it just about everywhere I have traveled.

These people need to be considered when designing, despite the fact that common sense and attentiveness would help keep most of them safe. The problem is that our sport is still not known nor accepted by everyone. Sometimes disc golf courses are seen as a hindrance to the other park users because it consumes so much area when you consider all of the other activities. I am sure we all have had discussions with people who had no idea what we were doing.

We can wave our discs in the air and yell, "I am throwing this at the metal basket, please move away from the basket!", but they will stand there with no idea what we are trying to do or why we are trying to warn them. Disc golf simply is not recognized by everyone even though many disc golfers feel that is the case and designers need to consider that when entering a park that is used by a lot of people.

The bottom line is safety affects sustainability, and it needs to be considered in the design process or we will continue to have more disc golf courses removed because someone got hurt. Municipalities are supposed to provide fun and safe activities for their residents, and that is the reason they should also value the input of a quality and experienced designer. A good design will put safety first, and a good designer will protect the municipalities' interests not just put in a championship-level course with no regard for any other park activities.

Mike Harrington has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota with a focus in landscape design and turf and landscape management. He has spent his entire 20-year career in the green industry, primarily in golf course management and high-end residential lawn and landscape management. He wants to take his knowledge of property management and his passion for disc golf to promote good design and installation techniques in hopes of making disc golf courses more sustainable.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
clausr
MOD Champion


Joined: 13 Jun 2002
Posts: 1485
Location: Kanata

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting we could talk about sustainability from the club perspective as well the environmental stuff above.

It takes X resources to build and maintain a course to a certain standard. The club can deliver Y amount of resources. If X exceeds Y the the course goes down hill.

With courses popping up all over the place we really have to question if we can sustain them all without unduely burdening the club members. We could also discuss how to make our existing course more sustainable (ie more bang for less effort)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenmlittle
Disc Jockey


Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 725
Location: Toronto, ON

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

clausr wrote:
Interesting we could talk about sustainability from the club perspective as well the environmental stuff above.

It takes X resources to build and maintain a course to a certain standard. The club can deliver Y amount of resources. If X exceeds Y the the course goes down hill.

With courses popping up all over the place we really have to question if we can sustain them all without unduely burdening the club members. We could also discuss how to make our existing course more sustainable (ie more bang for less effort)


We just need more Y.
_________________
"Friends don't let friends putt like Ken Little."
-Ken Little
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Thumber
LNF Champion


Joined: 08 Nov 2007
Posts: 8270

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenmlittle wrote:
clausr wrote:
Interesting we could talk about sustainability from the club perspective as well the environmental stuff above.

It takes X resources to build and maintain a course to a certain standard. The club can deliver Y amount of resources. If X exceeds Y the the course goes down hill.

With courses popping up all over the place we really have to question if we can sustain them all without unduely burdening the club members. We could also discuss how to make our existing course more sustainable (ie more bang for less effort)


We just need more Y.


Which begs the question of how to get more Y
_________________
meh
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenmlittle
Disc Jockey


Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 725
Location: Toronto, ON

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thumber wrote:
kenmlittle wrote:
clausr wrote:
Interesting we could talk about sustainability from the club perspective as well the environmental stuff above.

It takes X resources to build and maintain a course to a certain standard. The club can deliver Y amount of resources. If X exceeds Y the the course goes down hill.

With courses popping up all over the place we really have to question if we can sustain them all without unduely burdening the club members. We could also discuss how to make our existing course more sustainable (ie more bang for less effort)


We just need more Y.


Which begs the question of how to get more Y


I really think Penton is onto something with the travelling road show and tent that he, Ben, et al have been pushing this summer. If we can get discs in hands of new players, we have at least started the process. The next hurdle, as everyone ever has already pointed out, they need somewhere convenient and easy to go throw things at things. We've got to have a course to help harvest casual players who may eventually turn into contributing disc golf members. If we were able to hand folks free discs and a map of a easily navigable course 10 minutes from their house, that would be ideal.
_________________
"Friends don't let friends putt like Ken Little."
-Ken Little
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenmlittle
Disc Jockey


Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 725
Location: Toronto, ON

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenmlittle wrote:
Thumber wrote:
kenmlittle wrote:
clausr wrote:
Interesting we could talk about sustainability from the club perspective as well the environmental stuff above.

It takes X resources to build and maintain a course to a certain standard. The club can deliver Y amount of resources. If X exceeds Y the the course goes down hill.

With courses popping up all over the place we really have to question if we can sustain them all without unduely burdening the club members. We could also discuss how to make our existing course more sustainable (ie more bang for less effort)


We just need more Y.


Which begs the question of how to get more Y


I really think Penton is onto something with the travelling road show and tent that he, Ben, et al have been pushing this summer. If we can get discs in hands of new players, we have at least started the process. The next hurdle, as everyone ever has already pointed out, they need somewhere convenient and easy to go throw things at things. We've got to have a course to help harvest casual players who may eventually turn into contributing disc golf members. If we were able to hand folks free discs and a map of a easily navigable course 10 minutes from their house, that would be ideal.


To add a bit of meat to this conversation. Would the board be interested in putting together a special committee with the objective of establishing an Ottawa/Gatineau city limits course? Maybe a new developments committee, or am I behind the times and something similar to this already exists?
_________________
"Friends don't let friends putt like Ken Little."
-Ken Little
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Thumber
LNF Champion


Joined: 08 Nov 2007
Posts: 8270

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A significant amount of Y time has been spent trying to get a course in the city limits with not a ton of success
_________________
meh
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenmlittle
Disc Jockey


Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 725
Location: Toronto, ON

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thumber wrote:
A significant amount of Y time has been spent trying to get a course in the city limits with not a ton of success


I'm sure that is true, but it doesn't mean there isn't a solution. If we don't try I know exactly how many courses will be installed in the city.

Coordinated working groups also really help to keep hot leads going and make the whole effort easier on the individual.
_________________
"Friends don't let friends putt like Ken Little."
-Ken Little
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jefrey A. Brother
King Jefrey


Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 10042
Location: First tee

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenmlittle wrote:
Thumber wrote:
A significant amount of Y time has been spent trying to get a course in the city limits with not a ton of success


I'm sure that is true, but it doesn't mean there isn't a solution. If we don't try I know exactly how many courses will be installed in the city.


We've been trying since JCP left. The City has not been the most open for our requests, though K-Kyle was made some head way with Orleans land managers. I'd say that's a start, but we are well into a race that start almost a decade ago.

When Phillips' Kars course was looking for approval (and they had the $$, the resources, the staff, the desire and Dan) the City came up with an excuse about safety. The City is a hard nut to crack.

The NCC likes us and is the best group to ask as they have all the land. There's always someone who DG is going to make their life a tad more work. I think this nut is the easiest of the two because land managers know we solve problems.

A real consideration about the type of course is needed, too. It must be extremely beginner/family friendly to get any real movement in numbers. JCP was perfect for this. Then you graduated to CF. It's really a fantastic thing that we had CF when JCP was closed. People seem to forget that we had a course when the main course disappeared.

A lot of work has been done to get a course inside the green belt (or in it). A lot of let downs have also happened. We've had courses designed (on paper) to have them yank the property from under us several months into the excitement.

To say we haven't tried is a pretty big slap in the face of those who have sat in on meetings or had conversations with those in charge of land in the region.

I welcome anyone to approach the powers that be. The Club could support a committee to work on this. I too hope there's a solution.
_________________
Boyle says BOOM!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kenmlittle
Disc Jockey


Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 725
Location: Toronto, ON

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jefrey A. Brother wrote:
kenmlittle wrote:
Thumber wrote:
A significant amount of Y time has been spent trying to get a course in the city limits with not a ton of success


I'm sure that is true, but it doesn't mean there isn't a solution. If we don't try I know exactly how many courses will be installed in the city.


We've been trying since JCP left. The City has not been the most open for our requests, though K-Kyle was made some head way with Orleans land managers. I'd say that's a start, but we are well into a race that start almost a decade ago.

When Phillips' Kars course was looking for approval (and they had the $$, the resources, the staff, the desire and Dan) the City came up with an excuse about safety. The City is a hard nut to crack.

The NCC likes us and is the best group to ask as they have all the land. There's always someone who DG is going to make their life a tad more work. I think this nut is the easiest of the two because land managers know we solve problems.

A real consideration about the type of course is needed, too. It must be extremely beginner/family friendly to get any real movement in numbers. JCP was perfect for this. Then you graduated to CF. It's really a fantastic thing that we had CF when JCP was closed. People seem to forget that we had a course when the main course disappeared.

A lot of work has been done to get a course inside the green belt (or in it). A lot of let downs have also happened. We've had courses designed (on paper) to have them yank the property from under us several months into the excitement.

To say we haven't tried is a pretty big slap in the face of those who have sat in on meetings or had conversations with those in charge of land in the region.

I welcome anyone to approach the powers that be. The Club could support a committee to work on this. I too hope there's a solution.


Thank you for the background Penton. I apologize that my message came across as marginalizing the effort/hours put into the process already. The amount of work that has been put in to try to get a course probably would have built a half dozen courses in another jurisdiction. Being new to the region I certainly don't have a voice in speaking to the past course efforts and I'm sorry it came across as such.

My suggestion/thought is just more aimed at having a dedicated group of people that can help to support each other as few people can dedicate their time individually to such a big task.

A committee could also help to give some guidance/direction to the kind of course and design that needs to be installed. Like you mentioned, a clean beginner friendly course is really the missing piece right now.
_________________
"Friends don't let friends putt like Ken Little."
-Ken Little
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jefrey A. Brother
King Jefrey


Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 10042
Location: First tee

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenmlittle wrote:

Thank you for the background Penton. I apologize that my message came across as marginalizing the effort/hours put into the process already. The amount of work that has been put in to try to get a course probably would have built a half dozen courses in another jurisdiction. Being new to the region I certainly don't have a voice in speaking to the past course efforts and I'm sorry it came across as such.


All good, Mr. Little. Most heard my rant at the AGM.

Quote:

My suggestion/thought is just more aimed at having a dedicated group of people that can help to support each other as few people can dedicate their time individually to such a big task.

A committee could also help to give some guidance/direction to the kind of course and design that needs to be installed. Like you mentioned, a clean beginner friendly course is really the missing piece right now.


Totally agree. It would also get some fresh blood into the game too. Kyle got things done in Orleans. I'm pretty impressed with him and all the work he's done. A good group of dedicated members might break the NCC and get us course near a gold mine (group of players). I keep thinking about the small things the Hog's Back manager would mention in passing. I think there's something there.

The NCC likes us.
_________________
Boyle says BOOM!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jefrey A. Brother
King Jefrey


Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 10042
Location: First tee

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took this down the wrong path. Back on track, Penton!

How do we get more Y?
_________________
Boyle says BOOM!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Jefrey A. Brother
King Jefrey


Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 10042
Location: First tee

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Designing for safety and sustainability: Infrastructure and installation
By Mike Harrington



This is the third part in a series on sustainability in disc golf course design

Safety on the disc golf course and sustainability of the disc golf course can be affected by multiple things. As you saw in my last article, I addressed this from the perspective of the way a course is played, both from the player's standpoint but also from the eyes of the other park users. This article will focus more on the effect that infrastructure and installation have on the appeal of disc golf courses.


We all know that many disc golf courses have been designed, installed and maintained by volunteers since the beginning of the sport. If you are an avid player, you probably even know the person who spends their weekends or evenings on the course working rather than playing.

While we need to be thankful these people are around, we also need to ensure that these volunteers have the right information on how the infrastructure (bridges, steps, basket locations, tee areas, retaining walls, drainage, erosion control and more) and proper installation can affect the safety and sustainability of a course. Simply placing a rubber mat on the ground with a tee sign and digging a hole to concrete the basket in the ground is not good enough to have sustainable courses moving forward.

I feel like the design and installation process is going to make tremendous strides on how our sport and our courses are viewed from the public eye. This includes the parks departments and city officials as well as the other park users and people who know nothing about our sport. If we can improve the image of our courses in the public's eye, we will more likely receive positive comments, and municipalities will actually see adding disc golf to their properties as a positive thing.
Three Rivers Park District

A significant amount of time and energy should be invested into planning. We need to know where the normal traffic patterns will be and areas that will be prone to backups of people standing around for a while. These areas will end up with compacted soil, and eventually a loss of turf will occur leading to erosion and a less sustainable course.

Serious thought needs to be put into surface drainage (where the water will naturally move away from an area over the ground) and subsurface drainage (where the water can be moved from one area to another to avoid standing water and erosion in high traffic areas). Erosion control is another factor that should be thought out, and there are products available to prevent erosion in addition to what proper drainage can do to prevent erosion.

Stairways, retaining walls and bridges are another way to help keep a course more sustainable and also safe. Stairways get people up and down slopes that would end up getting compacted and bare. Retaining walls will help to level off areas (especially tee and basket areas), preventing compaction and ultimately the soil from eroding. Bridges need to get people across rivers and over ponds so that we do not erode the soil around these bodies of water.

Even low-lying wet areas can benefit from this infrastructure. By providing these areas with an alternate pathway, disc golfers can avoid getting their feet wet and creating more erosion problems. These are all things that should be thought of in advance and mentioned to whomever is considering putting a course in the ground.

The issues mentioned above and the infrastructure that can help avoid those problems are key to designing and installing sustainable disc golf courses. The goal is to avoid as many of these problems as possible with proper planning.

Part of this planning comes in the initial proposal to the people wanting to put the course in the ground. The additional costs (material costs plus the labor) to properly install the infrastructure need to be mentioned in the beginning of the process. If we do not do these things in advance, the parks departments and municipalities may desire to pull a course rather than rectify a major problem they did not expect.

If sustainability is the goal, then all of these ideas need to be considered. I will touch on these sections of the infrastructure in the following articles.

One of the best courses that I have ever played in terms of infrastructure was Bryant Lake Park in Eden Prairie, Minn. They have retaining walls, leveled tee areas, 20-foot mulch circles around the baskets and erosion control products all things I had rarely seen in my disc golf travels when I played that course a few years ago.

I have since seen a lot more of those efforts being used, and I hope that more courses will continue to see the added benefit of including these ideas in the design process and implementing them upon installation.

_________________
Boyle says BOOM!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    ODGC Forums Forum Index -> Course Conversations All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group
RSS Feed for Latest Posts