Founding directors of the Jackman Wetlands Disc Golf Society, athletes (from left) Michael van Elburg, Chris Hartmann, John Gould-Thorpe and Stewart McIsack stand atop their 100-foot-wide “Raptors” green. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

Pro players craft course of their dreams and biggest in B.C.

Aldergrove’s newest park Raptors Knoll opens on Saturday atop old landfill

What used to be a garbage dump has now been reclaimed as the largest and arguably the greatest disc golf course in B.C.

With a whopping 18 holes, experienced players Stewart McIsack and Chris Hartmann utilized the natural elements of the area including tree groves, valleys and hills, to design a 38-acre course of their dreams.

The course was built on a former Aldergrove landfill that has been restored, covered with soil and donated wildflower seeds, and planted with trees.

Located diagonally across from Aldergrove Regional Park, Raptors Knoll Disc Golf Park is a part of the 100-acre Jackman Wetlands Park, which includes wetlands and a trail that opened last fall.

“The disc golf course was designed around the trail with safety in mind,” said a Township of Langley spokesperson.

Expert players carry a sport bag full of “putters” or “drivers” – discs of all widths and weight to use as they see fit along the course.

“The objective is to get the disc into the basket any way you can,” McIsack said about the sport, which mimics golf except with discs thrown by-hand.

“Every throw is a stroke just like golf,” McIsack explained, “Except it’s better than golf.”

You can even throw “rollers” where the disc is thrown to roll along the green, inching closer to the basket on its way, he added.

With each hole, players have the option to “change up the course” and move the disc catcher or basket into a secondary anchor.

The founding directors of the Jackman Wetlands Disc Golf Society include impassioned players Hartmann, McIsack, and John Gould-Thorpe.

Both Hartmann and McIsack play professionally, often scoring in the top of their age division, and are sponsored by major disc golf manufacturers.

Michael van Elburg, 38, was asked and joined the society at a later date.

“It’s an addicting sport,” van Elburg admitted.

On a clear day, from the 8th hole, players can see Mt. Baker as they play a 100-foot-wide green, shaped as a “raptor,” or eagle.

“That’s why we named the course what we did,” van Elburg said.

“When we first scoped out the area, we noticed eagles flying above all over the place.”

With more than 40 years of combined experience playing the sport, the society members has led the effort to build this new course. It’s included more than 2,650 hours worked by volunteers – everything from laying down cement tee pads to removing stinging nettle bushes from pathways.

Hartman estimates it would take him five years of routinely playing at Raptors Knoll to make up all the labour hours he’s put into the course.

“But even as it is now it beats most of the courses we’ve ever played,” Hartmann added.

RELATED: Disc golf comes to park built on reclaimed landfill in Aldergrove

And after working full-time day jobs, the founders proclaim it’s made them “very happy” construct the course during the last year or so.

Along with numerous other volunteers and $15,000 in capital costs from the Township – the group raised funds and did the work necessary to create the course.

“The Township even planted 159 new trees on the course for us,” McIsack said.

The society executive is hopeful that after four years (of the five-year lease) the Township will take over maintenance of the course.

Trees and flower seedlings on the course are also expected to mature over time, resulting in an even more immersive, “green” experience for players, McIsack said.

Operators Training School donated over 300 hours of machinery time and LafargeHolchim donated all the concrete for the project, nearly 50 cubic meters worth.

These elements rank high among factors that impact the “playability of the course,” McIsack added.

The society is holding an opening ceremony for the Raptors Knoll Disc Golf Course at Jackman Wetlands Park on Saturday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to noon, at 1111 272nd St.

The community is invited to attend the free, celebratory event and try their hand at disc golf, taking part in the “play with a pro opportunities” with the founders and others who will be on site. And 100 Raptor discs will be given to attendees who have never played the sport before.

 

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