Minneapolis parks opened the area’s first combined disc and regular golf venues on the same courses.
A small but growing number of courses, including two in the Twin Cities, are adding disc-golf baskets alongside their fairways and greens. It’s a form of double-booking that nets extra cash at a time when rounds played at the state’s public courses are down by the thousands, and revenue is down by the millions, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Disc courses opened for business in May on golf courses at Theodore Wirth and Fort Snelling parks near Minneapolis, Minn. “We are always looking for a new revenue stream,” said Theodore Wirth Golf Course Manager Mike Baker. Disc golf at Wirth’s par-3 course is gaining popularity, despite little promotion and the $5 fee for adults, he said. “The first year was an experiment that went well,” Baker said. A disc-golf league or tournament might be in the works for next year.
Another combined course opened in July near Rochester, Minn., and about two-dozen hybrid courses have opened around the country, said Steve West, a disc course designer who laid out the two Twin Cities hybrids.
The Three Rivers Park District, which operates three disc courses and four ball golf courses, most in Hennepin County in the Twin Cities metro area, is watching the hybrid trend.
“We talked about the possibility of adding disc to our golf courses,” said Tom McDowell, Associate Parks Superintendent. The district’s courses are making less money, and it wouldn’t cost much to add disc baskets if revenues keep dropping, he said. The revenue from disc golf isn’t huge, at least not yet. The two Minneapolis hybrid courses made more than $9,000 this summer with a combined 1,766 disc rounds, said Tim Kuebelbeck, Director of Special Facility Operations for the Minneapolis Park Board.
That’s a tiny fraction of traditional golf revenues at the same two courses, which, in the same period, totaled more than $250,000 at $17 per adult round, Kuebelbeck said.
The Three Rivers District was one of the first to charge disc players when its first course opened more than a decade ago on the ski hill at Hyland Lake Park in Bloomington, Minn., McDowell said. It now operates three disc courses, and has shown, even at $3 per adult, that it can make money: $92,500 for 55,000 disc rounds played in 2010 at Hyland, Elm Creek and Bryant Lake parks, McDowell said.
By comparison, three of the district’s golf courses—Baker, Eagle Lake and Glen Lake—provided about 120,000 rounds last year that generated nearly $2 million in revenue, district figures show.
The three Minnesota courses are among more than two dozen in the country, including six in California, four in South Carolina and two in Wisconsin, reports the Star Tribune.
While the number of regular golf players nationally has gradually declined in the past decade from about 30 million in 2000, according to the National Golf Foundation’s website, disc golf player numbers have risen steadily for several decades, perhaps more than 10 percent a year, West said. He said solid numbers are hard to find because most disc golfing is played for free on unmonitored courses.
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