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Monday, May 2, 2016

Disc golf course faces damages, possible delays

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

(Photos contributed) Roughed up tee pads (top) and a mangled basket for hole 8 (bottom) are just part of the damages the Le Mars Disc Golf Course has seen as a wastewater pipeline is being installed through the center of the course. Part of the contract with the company installing the pipeline requires repairing the course, but local disc golfers are concerned this will mean delays for spring disc golfing.
LE MARS -- Work to install a wastewater pipeline to Le Mars' new treatment plant caused some major disruption to the community's 18-hole disc golf course.

"It was a little tough to look at," said Ben Sitzmann, who coordinates the Le Mars Disc Golf Club and led efforts about three years ago to create the course at West Floyd Park.

The pipeline runs nearly through the middle of the course, and the earthwork to install the pipe affected about 11 of the 18 holes, Sitzmann said.

Three of the metal baskets which serve as "holes" on the course were damaged, and one is a complete loss, he said.

One basket and its cement anchor was completely pulled from the ground.

For two of the holes, the cement pads where players tee off were completely removed, and another was damaged.

At two holes, the tee signs, which show the layout of the hole, are also missing.

"I don't know where they went," Sitzmann said. "It would be nice to have tee signs so I could reuse them because I custom made them all."

With the digging, much of the grass down the center of the course was removed.

Perhaps hardest for Sitzmann to see was the removal of five trees; several of them were large and mature.

"It takes away the best obstacles we had on the course," he said. "That's the obstacle, to get around that kind of stuff, otherwise every hole is the same."

While baskets and cement pads can be replaced, mature trees are another story, he said.

"We'll never be able to have those obstacles again," Sitzmann said. "We can plant trees, but it will take 10-15 years before the trees are mature enough to affect game play."

Before construction work began, Sitzmann and city planners knew the pipeline work may impact the disc golf course.

"We knew they were going to run the main sewer line through there," Sitzmann said.

He spent some time on the course with a city staffer talking about where the pipe would be installed.

"They assured me that anything that got damaged or wrecked would be replaced, so I wasn't too worried about it," Sitzmann said. "I didn't expect anything to be damaged or removed."

Le Mars Wastewater Superintendent Ron Kayser said the contractor, Vander Pol Excavating, of Orange City, does plan to replace equipment and re-seed the course.

"That's all going to be fixed by them," Kayser said. "It's part of their contract."

A representative from Vander Pol did not return a call to the Daily Sentinel.

Vander Pol's crews have leveled out the areas where they already installed pipe, Kayser said.

"But it probably going to be spring before they can come in and do a nice, perfect grade and seed," he said.

Kayser said he doubted Vander Pol would pour cement in the winter.

"They'll probably wait at least until it warms up or wait until a warmer day," he said.

Sitzmann is concerned about what this timeline will mean for disc golfers.

"I'm a little worried about this next season with the lack of grass and how long it will take to get everything fixed or replaced," he said. "There will be a huge delay because who wants to walk out in a giant, muddy mess. When there's no grass thoughout the middle of the course, it'll be a pretty muddy."

People play on the disc golf course year round, Sitzmann said.

A rare few even play in the snow, he said.

"But as soon as the snow melts, there are a usually lot of people out there," Sitzmann said.

During fair weather, at least 10 people use the course each day, he said.

On the weekends, people travel from out of town to play the course, he added.

At the summer Le Mars disc golf tournament, players traveled from Minnesota, Waterloo, Fort Dodge and Des Moines to play the 18 holes.

The Le Mars course has received many good reviews, Sitzmann said.

Those reviews are basically advertising, inviting other players to visit the course.

Sitzmann is concerned the amount of repairs needed and the time it will take to do so will lead to bad reviews.

Those reviews might discourage players from traveling to Le Mars to try the course or play in the Ice Cream Days tournament, which last year brought 80 players to the course, most from out of town.

Even with the damages, some of the course is still playable, Sitzmann said.

"Even on the affected area some holes can still played," he said.

Still, Sitzmann says he is discouraged by the overall condition of the course.

"It's disheartening to see, after four years of hard work and dedication we put into it, and after raising all the money and constructing it ourselves," he said. "It's going to be a while before it's back to anywhere like it was, especially the trees."

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