Combining the precision of Dad's concentration on the course and the child's joy in seeing the plastic disc zing through the yard, Karel Park now has an 18-hole disc golf course ready for all ages to play.
For three years the supporters of disc golf have hacked, sawed and whacked a jungle into fairways. It has been a labor of love for Doug Seagraves -- disc golf enthusiast.
The project began with a survey sent to taxpayers in the district of the Eldorado-Raleigh Pleasure Drive Park District asking how they wanted their tax money spent on the three parks within the district. Those are Raleigh Park in Raleigh, Mahoney Park in Eldorado and Karel Park in between on Raleigh Road. About four years ago the park purchased new playground equipment. About three years ago the district purchased new bathrooms. On the survey there was a section to write in other ideas.
"Multiple people said they wanted disc golf," Seagraves said.
The park board decided to give it a shot.
The park board spent about $12,000 for the materials. That involved 18 disc catching cages that operate as the holes on a traditional golf course and that come at a price of about $300 each. It also involved pouring concrete pads that act as the tee-off spots.
The Sons of the American Legion Post 169 spent about $2,500 on the signs that direct golfers to the next basket and their expected par -- number of throws an average disc golfer may be expected to make before getting the disc in the basket.
With the materials ordered and ready, what remained next was the sweat and blood involved in clearing an overgrown wooded area into one with paths clear enough to fling a disc between the trees.
"There were sticker bushes 10 feet high. There were trees down, cutting trees down, Weedeating," Seagraves said.
Who knew there were so many people dedicated to the hard work of turning a jungle into a disc golf playground? Seagraves named off some of the disc golf enthusiasts who believe the result was worth the effort: Matt Shelby, Ed Glass, Joe Garrison, Mike Braddock, Jason Reddick and Josh Noelle. They had the help and support of park district employees Bob Street and Scott Van Zant and the faith of the park board members and Sons of the American Legion. They also had the experience of retired U.S. Forest Service Engineer David Johnson to tell them what vegetation to cut out and what to leave alone.
"Here we are, three years down the road, and it's done," Seagraves said.
All that is left on the course is digging a ditch for drainage and hauling away some cut brush, but those do not greatly affect play on the course.
Page 2 of 2 - The course is ready for people to try out with their own set of discs that may be purchased at Southern Illinois sporting goods stores or through the Internet. Those looking for an invigorating walking path might want to walk the course that takes them up, down and around the park. Many disc golf enthusiasts have put the course to the test and rated it through Internet sites dedicated to the sport.
"Right now it has a three out of five," Seagraves said.
The grand opening of the course comes Oct. 29 with a disc golf tournament to benefit cancer survivors Scott Van Zant, park supervisor, and Andrea Mulvey, daughter of the park board's President Keith Griffin.
"This will be the first tournament to kind of give back to those who helped with the project," Seagraves said.
The tournament is Oct. 29. There will be a player's meeting at 9 a.m. and tee times begin shortly after. There will be two rounds of 18 holes in four divisions: Recreational for the beginners, intermediate, advanced and open for the professional disc throwers.
"It will take about two hours per round and the second round will be at 1 p.m. And food will be provided," Seagraves said.
The cost is $25 to enter with a goal of accommodating 50 players. The players will receive a T-shirt, towel; a disc and mini -- a marker used in tournament play -- and stickers stamped with the Eldorado-Raleigh Pleasure Drive Park District logo.
Pre-registration guarantees a players' pack and pre-registration may be made by calling Seagraves at (618) 841-6852.
If the goal is achieved, $500 will go to Scott Van Zant, $500 will go to Andrea Mulvey and the money left over is to go to next year's disc golf tournament.
The tournament will also serve to establish the course as a free, healthy and fun option for the region.
"This course has everything. I mean, you have short, long, wooded, uphill, downhill, tight, out of bounds. As for a disc golf course it's right there," Seagraves said.