As summer heats up in Colorado ski country, locals and visitors alike are turning to Colorado’s world-class disc golf courses for relaxing summer fun in the breath-taking Colorado mountains. To learn more about the disc golf craze that’s sweeping the state and an upcoming disc golf tournament, Colorado Ski Country USA sat down with Taylor Hutchinson, Arapahoe Basin’s assistant lift operations manager and disc golf enthusiast.
Q: What should guests expect at the Birdies, Bogeys and Bloodies event on August 5?
Birdies, Bogeys and Bloodies is going to be A-Basin’s first ever disc golf tournament. The event costs $40 if you register in advance. If you wait until the day of the event, the cost will be $45. Registration begins at 9 a.m. in the season pass office. The tournament is going to run from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. with awards at 2 p.m. Disc golf not necessarily your thing? There will be Bloody Mary tastings in the Mountain Goat Plaza and live music from P-Nuckle. Dogs are welcome so bring your furry friends on up, and if you are indulging in the Bloody Mary tasting, the Summit Stage will be running up from Keystone 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Come on up and spend an afternoon at the legend this summer.
Q: What makes A-Basin a good location for a disc golf course? What makes you excited to play it?
A-Basin is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. That’s why I love working here. That’s why I love skiing here. Now I have another excuse to come up to the Basin on my days off and spend more time in my favorite place. If you love the Basin in the winter and have never seen it in the summer, do yourself a favor and come see what the Legend looks like underneath all that snow.
Q: What is the length, peak elevation and elevation change of the disc golf course? What is the average distance to each basket?
The course plays through 1.6 miles on the lower mountain around the bottom of Ram Rod, High Noon, Sundance, Wrangler and Chisholm Trail. The course starts in the base area at roughly 10,800’. The course has a peak elevation of 11,200’, with an elevation gain of 600’ and finishes back in the base area.
Each hole has an average length of 273’. The course has a combined length of 2,463’. The shortest hole is 187’. The longest hole is 357’.
Q: Is the course well suited to beginner, intermediate and/or advanced players?
I would say the course is suited more to the advanced intermediate player. While there aren’t many long holes, the first 8 holes gradually make their way up the mountain and shooting up hill may be challenging for a beginner. There are a few holes where you are shooting over and through trees as well, which may provide a challenge in finding your disc. I have personally lost 3 discs on my drive on the third hole.
Q: Was it difficult to convince management to let you build the course? If so, how did you change their minds or show them that disc golf was a valuable activity?
The course’s designer, Ben Morton, has been planning a disc golf course at A-Basin for as long as I can remember. As soon as he got the green light and built the first 3 holes in 2015, the need to expand the course became evident. With ramping up our summer events schedule, the need for activities on the mountain arose and disc golf seemed like the perfect fit. These nine holes have become very popular in the last few weeks. If this trend continues and people respect the land, hopefully one day we may be able to expand to an 18-hole course.
Q: What was your biggest challenge to the construction/expansion of this course, and how did you overcome it?
As far as the planning and expansion of the course goes, I would say the biggest obstacle was getting approval by the Forest Service and agreeing upon the locations of the tees and baskets. The final product is not what was initially envisioned, but like in any project there is always going to be some give and take. As far as construction, the project was super smooth. The construction crew was made up of mostly folks who work lift operations in the winter, and it was super fun working as a team to put together something that we could all be proud of and do something a little outside of the norm for all of us.
Q: What elements of other courses inspired you when designing the layout of the A-Basin course?
Living in the high country of Colorado, we are surrounded by and get to play a lot of really cool courses. The closest course to A-Basin would be the Lake Dillon Disc Golf Course. That course also had a lot of A-Basin employees that took part in its design and construction. The tee pads at A Basin’s course are reminiscent of the dirt tees of Lake Dillon’s early days. The 5th hole at A-Basin shoots through an alley in the trees, and reminds me of the heavily wooded front nine at the Leadville Colorado Mountain College course.
Q: What’s the most challenging or interesting feature of the course?
I would say some of the more challenging features on the course are the stand of trees between the third tee pad and basket, the drive on the 8th tee over the entrance to North Fork, which is a flowing creek in the summer time, and the distance between the 8th basket and the 9th tee pad. There is great signage showing you how long each hole is and where each basket is located. The best part of the course is that if you come up on the weekends, the 6th Alley Bar and Grill is open 11-4 Friday through Monday and you can catch a libation and a meal before or after (or both) your round of Disc Golf. There are events every Saturday through August 19th, including live music and free scenic lift rides.
Q: What is your favorite part of a day playing disc golf?
My favorite part of spending a day playing disc golf is getting outside and enjoying nature with good friends. There is nothing like playing disc golf in the Colorado high country. Scenic vistas, secluded wooded areas, and a little friendly competition between friends can’t be beat.