GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Last summer, Crandall Park became a battleground of a new kind. A path of 18 disc golf holes opened, tracing the perimeter of the park and drawing in hundreds of players over the course of the summer. This coming season, the city’s biggest park won’t be the only game in town anymore.
Professional disc golfers Jaimen Hume and Greg Hill came before the city recently with a plan. That plan is for Haviland’s Cove Park, located at the south end of a city neighborhood along the Hudson River, west of Glens Falls Hospital. The park is much smaller and more out of the way than Crandall Park – which is a big part of why it was chosen.
“There’s a bunch of little fire pits back in the woods, and high school kid hangouts; maybe even people staying out there in the wooded parts near the shoreline,” described Hill, who has been involved with growing and promoting the disc golf scene in Glens Falls. “I think running a course along the perimeter of the shoreline would help clean that area up, to be honest.”
Hill and Hume – the latter being the main designer of the Crandall Park course – are proposing a 9-hole course to be created at the park this spring and summer. This second course would be more beginner-friendly by contrast with the Crandall Park one, surrounded by fewer trees and obstacles. The Crandall Park course includes a hole that even makes use of a small wetland water hazard – the kind of thing that could create a discouraging end to a first day learning the ropes.
Hume says that another benefit to the Haviland Cove course would be to provide an easier place to play disc golf for families. Some courses aren’t easy for younger players, but he envisions this one being much more forgiving. A half-length course near a playground and community grill invites a full day for families.
By contrast, the Crandall Park course’s 18 holes travel through the park’s woodland, inviting challengers to try their luck hurling golf discs toward a chain basket. Last summer, the course saw hundreds of visitors per month.
Glens Falls Tourism and Development Director Amy Collins said 646 players were recorded in June 2021, when the course held its first official tournament. Over 150 players were signed up for the tournament alone. August saw 498 more. In September, the park hosted a second tournament benefitting the Ed Bartholomew Fund, a nonprofit named after the development director who had blazed the trail on getting the course made to begin with.
“We really want to bring investment back to our recreation areas,” Collins said last week, “because we noticed – especially during the pandemic – how critically important those rec areas are. Just being able to get out and do things safely. I think you can look at what happened with golf, because golf was one of few things that could operate safely, and I think disc golf may have seen similar growth.”
Hill agrees with that. In the world of professional disc golf, the COVID-19 pandemic was a period of growth for the sport, as a reason to get outdoors became ever-more attractive. Hill hosts a putting league at Northway Brewing Co. in Queensbury. Since getting it going, the number of visitors even there has doubled.
That enthusiasm for the sport has been echoed throughout the city, from the community to the folks in City Hall. That’s why, even though he hasn’t heard a set-in-stone “yes” from the city of Glens Falls yet, Hill is confident that the course is happening.
Not only do the golfers want more places to play, but the city sees Haviland’s Cove as a place in need of some new life. The city has previously considered adding an amphitheater or a dog park to the location by the river. What makes disc golf a better idea?
“Disc golf is extremely low-budget,” Hill said. “I think it would be a great way to beautify the park.”
Parks, and new forms of recreation therein, have been a big priority for the city for some time. The Crandall Park disc golf course was one of a trio of recently-unveiled additions to the park. The other two were a new set of pickleball courts, and a splash pad water feature unveiled last summer in the park’s playground.
Once the city gives the Haviland course the OK, the longest task ahead will be creating a path and setting up the individual holes that make up a disc golf trail. The hope is to get the course up and running sometime this summer.
Hill foresees potential disc golf growth elsewhere in the immediate area. West Mountain’s ski area has been expanding, with owners looking to create a full and proper ski resort with year-round attractions. Schenectady has adopted a disc golf course into its Central Park in recent years. It’s an easy-pickup sport with plenty more places to grow.
“We definitely have some lines of communications with other potential spots in the area,” said Hill. “I think Haviland’s Cove is the most promising.”