OLEAN – Watch out for flying discs when walking around Parc Franchot – there are probably young disc golfers around.
Local officials, members of the Twin Tiers Disc Golf Club and sponsors who supported its construction gathered at Parc Franchot on Sunday for a groundbreaking ceremony for the city’s newest disc golf course.
Richard Longer, president of Twin Tiers Disc Golf Club, said the organization is completely volunteer-based and they play the game and promote it because they enjoy meeting new people and seeing people play on free trails in the region.
“It’s been a pleasure working with the city and seeing all the generous people who contribute to this community,” he said.
The effort was led by TTDGC, the same non-profit organization responsible for running the 18-hole adults-only course installed at Gargoyle Park in 2021. Olean Common Council offered to match donations received by the club to help with the effort.
“We are grateful to have disc golf in Olean, not only in Gargoyle but now here in Franchot,” Mayor Bill Aiello said. “We have this beautiful area here that is linked to the walking path, to our children’s garden and people will be able to enjoy it.”
The youth course – the first of its kind in Cattaraugus County – hopes to have two tees for each hole. A tee spot will make every hole more challenging and is designed for youngsters aged 9-13. A second tee location will make the holes more manageable for kids ages 4-8.
The course will run at the east end of the park, starting near the Children’s Memorial Garden. The route will be linked to the memorial, and additional memorial stones or trees can be purchased along the route.
“It’s great,” said Kris Shewairy, coordinator of the city’s youth and recreation department. “It’s more for people to do, especially kids.”
Shewairy said he’s worked with Longer and Dave Haynes for the past two years, and their insights and efforts have helped make the courses a reality.
“Without these two guys and everyone behind the scenes, all the volunteers and all the sweat and tears put into it, this isn’t going to happen,” Shewairy said. “It’s a great addition to this park and our park system as a whole.”
Longer said having a more beginner-friendly youth course to complement the more advanced 18-hole course at Gargoyle Park is something that will increase opportunities for Olean and surrounding communities to have more fun and free things to do. TO DO.
Last year, TTDGA held five summer youth clinics and after seeing a positive response from over a hundred children, sought to install a permanent youth disc golf course while stepping up the 2022 youth summer program.
“We have portable baskets which have also been purchased and we will be setting them up in War Vets Park a few days a week during our summer recreation program which starts in two weeks,” Shewairy said. “We’re excited, we’re thrilled, it’s going to be great.”
In partnership with the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation & Educational Disc Golf Experience (EDGE), TTDGA has received two Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds grants for Franchot Park and youth programs.
Thanks to these organizations, a free two-week disc golf summer camp for ages 7 to 13 will take place from July 11 to 15 and from July 18 to 22 at Parc Franchot. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each of these days, young participants will learn the basic rules of the game and how to drive, approach and put the discs. Interested parents can contact [email protected] for more information and to register.
Although nothing official yet, Longer said the TTDGA has received several suggestions for possible future courses in the area. He said they are working on setting up an 18-hole course in the Quaker Lake area of Allegany State Park in 2023.
“If you haven’t tried disc golf yet, you have no idea what you’re missing out on until you play it,” Longer added.
Aiello said Franchot is an example of what the city wants its parks to become. In addition to the Children’s Day celebrations and the opening of the golf course, a flag football game was taking place in one of the nearby fields while other children used the play area in the center of the park .
“These are the things we want every day in our parks, and now with this disc golf course here, we’re going to see more people here and more use,” the mayor added. “And the more you use it, people take better care of things.”