A free outdoor activity: New Yellowknife disc golf course opens to public this weekend

·3 min read
Francis Tessier-Burns throws a disc at a basket on the new Yellowknife disc golf course. Tessier-Burns is a board member of the Yellowknife Ultimate Club.  (Luke Carroll/CBC - image credit)
Francis Tessier-Burns throws a disc at a basket on the new Yellowknife disc golf course. Tessier-Burns is a board member of the Yellowknife Ultimate Club. (Luke Carroll/CBC - image credit)

A brand new disc golf course that will be available to the public at no charge is opening at the Yellowknife Ski Club this weekend.

The nine-basket course weaves through the trails, woods and onto the rocks overlooking Back Bay.

Jessica Hurtubise is the president of the Yellowknife Ultimate Club, which is responsible for organizing and maintaining the course.

Luke Carroll/CBC
Luke Carroll/CBC

She said the sport is similar to regular golf — participants throw the disc from a tee-off spot and try to get it into a metal basket in as few throws as possible. The baskets have chains hanging down from inside to prevent discs from flying through or bouncing out.

The discs for the sport are different from the usual recreation discs, or Frisbees. They're often smaller and heavier, and come in different sizes and weights for different throws. There are driver discs for the long throws, mid-range discs, and putter discs for shots close to the basket.

A regular Frisbee can also be used, but it can be more difficult for the types of throws required in the sport.

Luke Carroll/CBC
Luke Carroll/CBC

Hurtubise said the idea for the new course originated about 10 years ago.

"So the idea was carried along forward over the years and we finally picked it up during COVID as a mini project, where we got an agreement with the ski club to use this site for our disc golf course," she said.

Kerry Wheler is the president of the Yellowknife Ski Club.

"It gets people outside, it's a family event, in that any age can do it," she said of disc golf. "We're excited to just have people utilizing the trails and accessing that beautiful space."

To make the project a reality, Hurtubise said the Yellowknife Ultimate Club was able to help buy the baskets. The funding came from KidSport NWT and Rising Youth, organizations that fund community projects focused on recreational activities for youth.

Luke Carroll/CBC
Luke Carroll/CBC

The course is technically the second in the city. The first is a small one set up in the yard of the Weledeh Catholic School.

Cullen McLeod has played at the Weledeh school course several times and although he said he likes the small size, he is excited to use the new course at the ski club. He's found that the school course weaves through the play structure and other facilities meaning there is the potential for accidents.

"One of them, you have to throw across the little soccer pitch they have as well. So I mean, definitely looking forward to a more open space," McLeod said.

"You don't have to worry about a disc slipping out of your hand or ending up close to somebody inadvertently."

Luke Carroll/CBC
Luke Carroll/CBC

Shadrach McLeod — no relation to Cullen — said he's played on courses in B.C. and in Thunder Bay, Ont. He likes how accessible it is, with courses open to the public at no charge.

"I feel like that's one big thing that sets it apart from other activities and sports where sometimes, like, the cost of gear and the cost of membership or dropping in is prohibitive," he said.

Shadrach said he is looking forward to playing on the new course, especially the holes that give the view of Back Bay.

The new course is hosting a youth tournament on Saturday to kick off its opening.

"It's going to be free," Hurtubise said.

"No experience needed. We can teach them all how to play the game and we'll run through the course, do maybe three to nine holes, depending on how the kids are feeling."

After the tournament, the course will be open until it starts getting cold around October. Hurtubise said the baskets will be taken down in the winter months and set up again once it starts warming in May.

All people need is a disc to play, but Hurtubise also advises good shoes as some baskets are on more difficult terrain.