This past weekend, a few friends and I embarked on a weekend full of disc golf and camping throughout the East Kootenay. It was a trip we had all been looking forward to for a very long time, but it wound up being fundamentally changed a couple of months ago, and we enjoyed the weekend with a note of sadness attached to it.
One of my best friends Murray lost his father on May 9. He had been diagnosed with cancer just a couple short months before and had an overwhelmingly positive chance of survival, so his death was extremely unexpected and tragic.
Murray, and his sister, were very close with their dad and enjoyed playing disc golf with him. In fact, the last time I saw him was in Cochrane last fall, trying out the disc golf course there.
The trip was originally supposed to be myself, Murray, his sister and their dad. Instead, we went through with the trip in his memory.
I met everyone at the Golden Municipal Campground on the evening of Thursday, July 30. After setting up and coating ourselves in the first of countless layers of heavy-DEET bug spray, my friend Chad poured shots of bourbon, and we presented Murray with a surprise: custom golf discs we’d ordered with a stencil of his dad printed on them. It was a truly special moment to say the least.
Now if you’ve followed my time as a reporter in the East Kootenays, you already know how much I love disc golf, and so the opportunity to try out four new courses, and show off the courses here to my friends from out of town, was something I was very excited about.
On Friday morning we went to our first stop: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. This was the first time I had been here in the summer, and it was cool to take the chairlift up without my ski boots on, but instead with my bag of discs on my lap.
The girl waiting for us at the top of the lift didn’t seem to know much about the course, or even where the first tee pad was, and it appeared as though the course doesn’t see too much action. At $35 for a ticket up the hill, I would have liked to see the course a little better maintained, but the novelty of playing disc golf on one of my favourite ski hills was definitely worth it. Downhill golf is tough, and a devastating roll away on my par putt on the final hole stopped me from shooting even par.
The next stop, after a much needed break for lunch, hydration, a dip in the river and more bug spray, was Disc Golf Golden, just a 20 minute walk away from our campsite. This was an awesome stop, with holes that weren’t too long but were made challenging and fun with cool lines through tight woods. The brick tee pads and awesome hole signs were an excellent touch as well.
The only cons were the mosquitos and the fact that my thumber which hit the basket didn’t actually go in for a hole in one.
The next day, we tore down camp and hit the road for two very anticipated next stops on the journey, the first being the Go Organic Sports Ranch in Parson, just a short ways outside of Golden. Many times I had driven past the sign on the way to Golden that advertises 54 holes of disc golf, and much had I heard about Infinity Solstice: The Bright Wizard of Destiny who owns and maintains the place, but I had not yet made the trip until that day.
A fun drive up a winding gravel road led us up to the property, and the signs along the road and the anticipation and mystery of what was to come gave me the nostalgic feeling of driving into a festival.
Infinity and his beautiful old dog Forest greeted us as soon as we pulled up. For ten bucks you get access to his beautiful and gigantic property that he’s owned for over 40 years.
He told us the history of the course, that he’d put it in nearly 20 years ago and has been adding to it ever since.
This place is like a gigantic playground for disc golf. You shoot at milk jugs, wind chimes, big dongs, car doors and everything in between. The whole area is so beautiful and well maintained and you can really feel how much thought, care and effort went into the place. We only played 24 of the now 55 holes the course boasts, as we had another big course and a lot of driving ahead of us, so I definitely will be back to camp and play them all. I can not recommend this place highly enough.
From there, we bid farewell to the BWOD and hit the road bound for Nipika Resort, about 35 minutes east of Radium. There we were met by Jesse Tomalty, the man behind the staggeringly epic new course there.
This new course at Nipika is without question the most challenging and certainly one of the most beautiful disc golf establishments I’ve ever seen. The amount of work that Jesse, his friends and the staff of Nipika have already put in is astounding. We all felt extremely fortunate that he came out and met us, otherwise we may have gotten a little lost. The course is still in its infancy, but is definitely playable and it was awesome and humbling to see it before it’s totally complete.
Once finished that will be a premier, championship level that will challenge the highest-calibre players on the planet and will be a disc golf destination for disc golfers from all over.
After 18 holes, our exhausted band headed to my neck of the woods and the following morning our first stop was Idlewild, which after playing Nipika, made me feel like a god of disc golf, and I shot a -9 including an ace on #14.
We had ambitiously intended to play all three Cranbrook courses, but while we were eating our lunch at the Fire Hall, we decided to skip the College course as Murray and Chad had already played it, and instead headed to Wycliffe, my favourite course.
On our final stop, much like every other course, we were blessed with absolutely perfect weather, perhaps just a little cooler and with several thousands times less mosquitoes. I can not reiterate enough how bad the mosquitoes were in Golden.
All in all, this was about as perfect a trip as we could have possibly planned and, more importantly, a really special tribute for Randy. He would have loved it.