Frisco and Dillon a Mecca for disc golf | SummitDaily.com

Frisco and Dillon a Mecca for disc golf

The High Country disc golf scene is blowing up.

Just ask Michael Ashforth, a Summit County native who has been playing the Frisco disc golf course since the late '90s. I met Ashforth and Audrey Kellogg, a Dillon resident, on a crystalline morning in the thick of July. The two were about to tee off on Hole 1 of the 18-hole course, one of two full courses in Summit and by far the oldest, and so I started picking their brains about the local disc golf (aka frolf, as in "Frisbee golf") scene.

"I like all the courses, but Frisco is home," Ashfroth said before starting strong with a par on the first hole of the day. "Disc is a blast. You can love it and hate it at the same time, and if nothing else, it's a great excuse to get the dog out."

But is wild popularity a good thing? Like most outdoorsy sports — think skiing, hiking, biking, fishing and the like — it can be a double-edged sword. Old-school disc players might mourn the loss of quiet, uncrowded courses, but at the same time, it's a social sport, the sort that nearly requires a beer for the front and back nines. (A drink also comes in handy when searching once or twice or 10 times for a lost disc.) In the mountains, a round is on par with a leisurely hike through the woods, without the rigid dress code and perfectly manicured greens of a traditional golf course. Plus, dogs are more than welcome.

Dogs and beers aside, the pace of disc golf is incredibly laid-back and inviting. Take a relative newcomer like Kellogg: She only started playing earlier this summer, but she's already fallen for disc, and fallen hard, without hours upon hours of practice.

"It's crazy to see how good she's gotten in just a few weeks," Ashforth says. And maybe that's the key to disc golf's growing legion of converts. Anyone with a disc can play — no $1,000 investment required — and the learning curve is gentle. It's simply a matter of learning to throw low and flat to avoid trees, branches, brush, hillsides and just about anything else found on a typical mountain-town course.

Yet not all courses are created equal. The two full Summit courses cater to different abilities, from beginner-friendly fairways at Frisco to challenging elevation drops at the revamped Dillon Course. Welcome to the Summit disc golf scene.

Lake Dillon Disc Golf Course

Lake Dillon Disc Golf Course (LDDGC) is the new kid on the block, and like all new distractions, it's getting a fair share of attention. Nestled on the south-facing slope of Tenderfoot Mountain, the 18-hole course is more rugged than the relatively level Frisco course. The town of Dillon first welcomed players in 2014, and since then, crews have added concrete tee boxes and cleared paths from hole to hole. It's now prepped for an official grand opening the first weekend in August, when the annual Mile High Classic tournament comes to Frisco and Dillon.

LDDGC is Summit disc golf at its finest. The course features thick pine stands and sprawling, brush-filled meadows, with drastic elevation changes on about half of the holes. The baskets are static, meaning players know what to expect every single round. This can be both an advantage and frustrating restriction, depending on who you ask. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Remember, the course is rugged, so don't show up in flip-flops. The first hole is a 10-minute uphill walk from the parking lot, and only one hole on the Front Nine is level from tee to basket. Expect a full round to last about two or three hours, with plenty of bushwhacking.

Parking: Park in the small dirt lot found on Cemetery Road, about 1 mile east of Dillon on Highway 6.

Signature holes

Hole 4

Distance: 401 feet

Slope: Downhill

Disc golf players either love or hate Hole 4. It's one of the most scenic on the course, featuring a tee box with unobstructed views of Summit's natural beauty: Red Peak, Buffalo Mountain, Peak One and the Tenmile Range, the eastern shore of Lake Dillon.

But don't let the stunning vistas lull you into a sense of security. The basket sits slightly left of the tee box, with nothing but a blanket of brush between. It also catches the full brunt of wind gusts coming off the lake, especially in the afternoon.

Hole 8

Distance: 533 feet

Slope: Extreme downhill

Imagine throwing a disc off the side of a cliff and you get a sense for the extreme elevation change on Hole 8. Sure, you might be able to see the basket from the tee box — it looks tantalizingly close — but there's about 450 feet of thick brush between you and a par. After your drive, keep an eye on your disc as you walk down the steep hillside.

At 533 feet, it's also the longest hole on the course. Again, wind here can be tricky. Wait for a break in the gusts and play the disc low and flat, aiming almost directly down at the basket.

Peak One Disc Golf Course

The Peak One Disc Golf Course at Frisco Adventure Park is a staple in the Rocky Mountain disc scene. Players come from as far as Denver, Aspen and Leadville to enjoy the mellow distances and shoreline fairways.

It's not the most challenging course, but in the disc world, that's hardly an issue. The Frisco Adventure Park crew moves the baskets every few weeks, so the course tends to feel fresh, even for frequent players. (The only qualm: There's no signage to let folks know where the basket is from week to week.)

On a casual afternoon, expect to spend about two hours for a round of 18. Also expect crowds, particularly on the weekends. There's a reason it's so popular.

Parking: Park in the paved lot at Frisco Adventure Park.

Signature holes

Hole 6

Distance: 462 feet

Slope: Level

If water hazards make you nervous, Hole 6 could lead to a minor breakdown. The hole doesn't require a drive over Lake Dillon — none of the holes do — but it requires pinpoint accuracy and a touch of self-control. The basket sits on a patch of land near a small inlet, with water to the left and directly behind. Control your drive and play it short.

Hole 15

Distance: 660 feet

Slope: Level

Hole 15 is easily the longest disc-golf hole in Summit. It's not particularly hard, with a wide fairway for the first shot, but the second and third shots are critical. Large pines jut directly out of the fairway, blocking views of the basket while you're still about 300 feet away. They're not quite as bad as Hole 7, but when combined with a marathon distance, it can easily lead to bogey and double-bogey play late in the game.

Mile High Classic disc golf tournament

What: A two-day pro and amateur disc golf tournament that coincides with the grand opening of the Lake Dillon Disc Golf Course, a brand-new 18-hole course on Tenderfoot Mountain

When: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1-2 at 8:30 a.m.

Where: Frisco and Dillon disc golf courses

Cost: Free

Registration is capped at 180 players and both tournament pools are currently full, but players are welcome to sign up for a waitlist. To register, see the Mile High Disc Golf Club website at http://www.mhdgc.org.