Disc golfer says proposed course in Juneau park could dissuade other trail users

Jake Quarstad questions the new proposed disc golf course at the Treadwell Mine trail system on June 2 2022, in Juneau. (Photo by Paige Sparks/KTOO)

There are two disc golf courses in Juneau already, and the Juneau Disc Golf Club wants to add a third.

They’ve designed a temporary course t0 be placed around the Treadwell Mine Historic Site and Trail, which means the holes — think tall, metal baskets — won’t be driven into the ground. They’re removable.

The course is similar to one at Eaglecrest Ski Area last summer.

The idea for the course, according to Shannon Crossley of the Juneau Disc Golf Club, is that it has shorter distances so it’s easier for younger and less experienced players.

“Beginners can go out and feel good about themselves and not feel a lot of pressure from the really good disc golfers,” Crossley said. 

The other courses in town get crowded with people who disc golf more regularly and with more skill.

Treadwell is a desirable location for a disc golf course because of things like bathrooms and an existing trail network. 

Crossley and representatives from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department offered a walk through of the proposed course in late May. Jake Quarstad, who lives nearby and walks his dogs along the trails multiple times a day, was on that tour.

Quarstad is a disc golfer, but he said this course is a bad idea as it’s currently planned.

Since that walk through, he’s been coming to the park with a clipboard, collecting signatures for a petition against the course. He’s worried that weaving the course in and out of mixed use trails will cause problems.

Jake Quarstad questions the new proposed disc golf court at the Treadwell Mine trail system on June 2 2022 in Juneau. (Photo by Paige Sparks/KTOO)

While the course is designed with kids in mind, with holes closer together than courses designed for adults or professionals, Quarstad said he’s worried many people will treat it like the bigger courses.

“I can tell you as a teenage boy, that is what we did,” Quarstad said. “We made the short holes more fun, either by going for a hole-in-one and throwing it a little bit harder to do so, or by shooting from back further.”

People will use the course how they want to, he said — either carefully or with gusto perhaps better suited for a larger course. He said that users should have the freedom to do that without risk to other park users.

“People are going to have fun the way they should have fun with the course,” Quarstad said. 

Another reason Quarstad is concerned: he worries the course will dissuade the area’s current users from going there. 

“People are just going to avoid the area if they begin to see disc golfers here. So it may not always be that there is a conflict, as much as there is just people being diverted away from the area,” Quarstad said. “And this is one of the few really accessible trails for those pushing a stroller or if you have a physical impairment or something — it’s a very flat trail to walk.”

He also said it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hit by a disc. 

Quarstad does like the idea of the course being in the Treadwell area, but he wants the course to be further off the trails. But Crossley said the course’s integration with the trails is a part of what would make it accessible. 

“I’m designing the course for a demographic that doesn’t exist, and that’s the new people,” Crossley said.

On Monday, Quarstad had collected over 90 signatures for his petition. Crossley also has a petition — gathering support for the course. She had 150 signatures online by Monday and more on paper. 

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee will decide whether or not to recommend the final proposal for the course to the Parks and Recreation Department during their Tuesday meeting, and have invited public comment.

Yvonne Krumrey

Local News Reporter, KTOO

Juneau is built on hidden and assumed layers of power and access, influencing how we interact with identity, with the law and with each other. I bring you stories of the gaps in access to power, and those who are working to close those gaps.

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