Disc golf is landing in Kelso this summer — and it’s not costing the city a dime.
The Thorstenson family, which owns Interstate Pest Control, Inc., has entered an agreement with the city to donate, install and maintain a nine-hole disc golf course at Tam O’ Shanter Park along the base of the Coweeman River dike.
The timing of the gift coincides with company’s 50th anniversary of its founding in Kelso in 1963. Three generations of the family have grown up in town since then, and the family wanted to make a lasting improvement to Kelso.
“We wanted to give back to the community, so Tam O’ Shanter was the first thing that popped up in our mind,” said Portland resident Brad Thorstenson, 32, sales manager for the company of 11 employees. “I think it will be a fun thing.”
Disc golf is played by throwing a flying disc (similar to a Frisbee, but smaller) at a target. The goal is to land the disc in the metal basket in the least number of throws. The sport has grown in popularity since the 1960s, and as of last year, there were 3,762 disc golf courses worldwide, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association.
For those interested in trying out the game, Big 5 Sporting Goods at Three Rivers Mall carriers disc golf discs and carrying bags.
Thorstenson, who got into disc golf while a college student at the Vancouver campus of Washington State University, said it’s unusual for a community as big as Longview-Kelso not to have a disc golf course. The nearest course, at Rainier Riverfront Park, was built four months ago by an Eagle Scout candidate. The family intends to organize a yearly tournament at Tam O’ with prize money, Thorstenson said.
The Kelso Parks Board and City Council have approved the project, which will cost about $5,000 for equipment and installation, according to Thorstenson. The low-impact sport, which is non-obtrusive, free and can be played year-round, requires a tee box (a bark dust pit) and a basket for each “hole.” He expects construction to begin in July, said Thorstenson, who will lead the work crew.
“Overall, people were supportive and just happy to have another amenity in the park,” said Thorstenson, adding that he’s grateful for city administrators’ enthusiasm for the project.
The course, which begins on the park’s western edge by South Kelso Drive, will include a dogleg left, a dogleg right and a hole where players can throw the disc as hard as they can for a hole in one. Players will throw away from the sports fields to avoid discs getting in the way of other park users.
Because much of the park is dedicated to baseball and soccer, “It’s not as ideal as I’d want it,” Thorstenson said, “but it’s a good course.”
His family offered to maintain the course as part of the gift because it didn’t want it to become a burden to the city, he said. The course will be named after the company, which will be listed on signs. A bulletin board will be set up for tournament notices and score cards.
City Manager Steve Taylor said the city is pleased by the family’s generosity.
“It goes to show the commitment of our citizens of doing everything they can to enhance the quality of life in Kelso,” he said.