January 17, 2014 01:25AM
By Eric Vo
WALLINGFORD — Jason Michael and a group of volunteers planted the last basket for an expanded disc golf course at Lufbery Memorial Park in December.
Designing and constructing the 18-hole golf course took over three years, said Michael, an avid player and member of the town Parks and Recreation Commission. The first nine holes were completed in 2010 and the second nine shortly after Christmas.
“The front nine is really established. With the back nine, the goal was to have it in and playable by the new year,” Michael said. “And now we have.”
Michael said he began playing disc golf in 2008. Without a course in town, Michael traveled to Southington, Manchester and Norwalk.
“I only played about 10 times before I grew weary of traveling,” Michael said. “With a decent knowledge of the parks around the town, I put two and two together and thought, ‘Why can’t we have one here?’ ”
He worked with the parks commission and Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak. After the first nine holes were finished, the plan to finish the other nine had to be put on hold because the park was closed for six months because of downed trees from a winter storm.
The course was designed without altering the park trail system, Michael said.
“We were directed to steer clear and to form the course around it,” he said.
Creating the disc golf course didn’t cost the town much, said Parks and Recreation Commissioner David Gelo. Disc baskets, which cost about $400, were paid for with money left over in a fund for the Cheshire Road park. Volunteers did most of the labor, he added.
“They (volunteers) took the brush away. They’d go in and drag it out and the town would come and dispose of the brush. It didn’t really cost us anything,” Gelo said. “It’s kind of a win-win for everybody.”
Michael said the new holes need “polishing,” which is expected to take three to four months. The group is waiting for tee boxes to arrive, as well as signs for the new holes.
Michael said he’s seen numerous people using the course. He met with a friend to play Thursday and said there were 11 cars in the parking lot.
On weekends, Michael said, it’s even more crowded. The course gets players from all over, including Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, he said.
“I’m doing back flips,” Michael said. “It’s so cool.”
He is spreading the word about the new park on the Wallingford Disc Golf’s Facebook page. And to celebrate the course’s completion, Michael is in the early stages of planning a opening tournament in the spring.