Four years ago the scenic 67-acre parcel that would become the Blue Lake Disc Golf Course was just an unused piece of land. The course was just a twinkle in the eye for some local disc golfers, who had in mind a world-class course – and soon the idea was picked up by Metro staff looking for a good use for the land, just east of the popular Blue Lake Regional Park.
When I heard about the plans for the course it prompted me to try disc golf for the first time. While I had played other forms of Frisbee for many years, I hadn't yet tried the Frisbee version of golf. I was instantly hooked.
As the course moved from the drawing board to reality, I spent an awful lot of my free time developing my skills at local courses. I was excited to attend the grand opening of the course, and more excited to play in the first tournament held there, a local competition catering to amateur players.
Fast forward to this past weekend, when Portland hosted the disc golf world championships. The Blue Lake course was the centerpiece of a series of rounds that took place on five area courses over five days. No, I didn't play in it; this tournament is for the top players in the world, professional disc golfers, some of whom actually make their living exclusively through the sport in various ways. I did volunteer to help out, though, serving as a spotter on the Blue Lake course on the final day. A spotter watches for discs that fly out of bounds and helps throwers locate their errant disc. I really enjoyed watching the best players in the world play past my station during the round – and many of them made a point to thank me for volunteering.
The course looked fantastic. All the work Metro’s parks staff have put into it, including a big work party in June, put the course at its very best. And the players noticed. The tournament drew top players from 12 countries, both rising stars and some of the longtime legends of the sport. Though the world championships have been happening for 33 years, I heard a lot of talk about this being the most exciting and well-attended one yet.
The tournament finals, held at Blue Lake of course, turned out to be a real nail-biter. The two top Open Men players ended up tied at the end of the final round, so a tie-breaking hole was needed to determine the winner – and they tied on that, so another hole was needed, and another. It took five tie-breaking holes to finally determine the new world champion. I'm not good at estimating crowds, but there were many hundreds of onlookers on the course during this excitement, and thousands watching it online.
Three years ago, when we opened the course, we thought we had something special. Now that it has had its moment on the world stage, we can see we were right!
Jim Quinn is a manager in Metro's Parks and Environmental Services department and a disc golf enthusiast.