For some people, sport involves bone-crushing blows or quick jaunts up and down a court. For others, it takes the form of a specially designed disc sailing through the air and the clink of metal as it lands in the basket. Disc golf, the learned practice of throwing these discs, combined with natural open spaces like the kind found at Willamette Park, Adair Village, and Mary’s River Park, can represent an ideal sport for those who appreciate rural Corvallis.
Disc golf has been growing in popularity since the 1990’s, and Benton County is no exception. Disc golf represents a sport where the course is tailored to the existing natural landscape, eschewing the need for asphalt or AstroTurf. The game can be played recreationally or competitively by one or more people. The joy of disc golf is found in not just the game but also the long walks through the forest and the camaraderie of friends.
There are three beautiful courses in and around Corvallis that vary in difficulty, length, and appearance. Unlike many other sports, every disc golf course offers its own unique landscape and thus different challenges and opportunities to its players.
Willamette Park is well-known and frequently hosts groups of players on its 18-hole par 54 course. Making excellent use of space, one must throw back and forth across the landscape, like driving up the switchbacks of a mountain, to land the disc in each basket. With alternate pins that can reposition each basket, the re-playability of this course can’t be overstated.
Trees and blackberry thickets abound, so it can be challenging for the novice or intermediate player. But the amazing space, cheerful atmosphere, and well-tended paths make the extra time spent looking for a stray disc all the more pleasant. A common hangout for college students and community groups, this park is frequently packed to capacity; thankfully, there’s an unpaved overflow lot.
If you prefer a more intimate course, head down to Mary’s River Park in Philomath for a great novice course. At only nine holes, the Mary’s River course is a perfect introductory course that doesn’t take an entire day to play. With lots of wide open spaces and limited thickets, this course is ideal for friends and family who are more interested in enjoying each other’s company than playing a competitive game.
If a challenge is what you are looking for, and you don’t mind a little drive, head out to Adair Park, just 11 miles outside of town to the west of Albany. With a densely wooded back nine, Adair is the place to go when you are ready for a real challenge. At Adair Park it’s not just about hucking the disc, but about finessing it through the trees and over the thickets. If you are a novice stick to Willamette and Mary’s River, else you risk losing your discs.
Discs are available for less than 20 bucks at a variety of local outlets, including Uprise, Play It Again Sports, the First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op, Peak Sports, and more. The only disc you really need to play is a driver; a putter makes putting easier but isn’t necessary. For those of you who do play, grab your friends, your discs, and head out before the season is over.
By William Tatum