SPEARFISH — “This is a big deal for Spearfish.”
That’s what Don Altmyer, president of the Spearfish Disc Golf Association, says when he talks about hosting the 2013 South Dakota Disc Golf Championship.
And he has every right to be enthusiastic about the upcoming event at the Spearfish Canyon Disc Golf course this weekend.
“Spearfish is lucky to have a world-class course,” Altmyer said. “And we’re looking forward to showing it off.”
Not only is it the first 27-hole disc golf course in South Dakota, the overall design and layout is unique because of its mountain terrain, challenging angles and the four different hanging baskets — which is quite the feature in the world of disc golf.
With obstacles such as hidden holes, hanging baskets that are very rare, and a hole requires players to make a 80-foot downhill shot from the top of the canyon, it’s an ideal course
The championship will be held Saturday and continue Sunday, which will only be open to the advanced and professional players.
Altmyer stressed the canyon course is ideal for tournament play because it is 27 holes.
Tournaments require players complete 54 holes.
“Usually courses are 18 holes, which requires them to include multiple courses … but the canyon course is 27 holes so we can do two rounds on the same course, and change it up the second day of play,” Altmyer said.
But, it’s not going to be easy.
“It’s a challenging course and unique because it is a mountain course with tough terrain,” he said. “Playing a round at the canyon course is like making a round trip hike up Lookout Mountain.”
It took initiative, hard work and hundreds of volunteer hours to create, construct and complete the canyon course, but the Queen City is known for being first when it comes to the world of disc golf.
Spearfish is not only home to the first 27-hole disc golf course, it is home to the first 18-hole course in South Dakota, which is on the campus of Black Hills State University. However, this course is set in a park-like atmosphere with wide open spaces and very little elevation changes, while the Spearfish Canyon course is more challenging with severe elevation changes and huge pine tree obstacles.
Altmyer said the 2012 South Dakota Disc Golf Championship is expected to draw about 60 players, as well as their family and friends, to Spearfish.
“The record for most participants in the state tournament was at the Rapid City course when they had 80 players,” Altmyer said. “So, we’re pretty satisfied with the number of people who are playing this weekend.”
And, it will be a diverse group.
He said people who are traveling to South Dakota from six different states, as this is considered to be the “top disc golf tournament” this year.
Altmyer and a multitude of others have invested a lot to complete the Spearfish Canyon Disc Golf Course, and it’s paid off.
Thanks to his fellow association members, all of the volunteers and people who helped make the canyon course a reality, as well as the city and the business owners who have donated their time and resources toward their project.
“All work on the Spearfish Canyon Course has been the result of volunteer hours from the members. Local businesses in the area have sponsored the disc golf holes, which provides funding for the club,” Altmyer said.
The state tournament, and the prospect of the amount of exposure this will bring to Spearfish, has inspired everyone to go above and beyond.
For someone who has earned national titles and won the Advanced Grandmaster Division at the amateur world disc golf championship tournament in 2005, Altmyer would know how this tournament is setting precedent.
“For the first time ever, anyone who gets a hole in one on two of the specified holes will win a new car,” he said, revealing the news that if someone does win a car, White’s Canyon Motors has agreed to donate the vehicle to support the association. “That means two people could walk away from this tournament with a new car.”
The Spearfish Canyon Disc Golf course is located south of the city campground at the intersection of Winterville Road and Pine Street. It initially opened in August 2010, thanks to the collaboration of the city of Spearfish and members of the Countryside Disc Golf Club. But, because of the city’s plans to extend the rec path and the logging efforts in the area, it needed to be re-designed to create 18-holes.
The discs finally started flying the spring of 2011, and the association was more than elated to announce they were working toward creating a 27-hole course and completing it this summer.
“When we all look back on what we have done … we realize that this really is a big deal to host the state tournament and we’re really looking forward to having a good time this weekend.
Registration will be from 4-7 p.m. Friday, at the Crow Peak Brewery (125 W. Hwy/ 14). A mandatory player meeting will be held at 7 p.m.
Josh Larson contributed to this report