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A better course brings better competition for Bellingham disc golfers

After a successful pilot program, a new professional disc golf course is expected to be completed by late 2022

A yellow and green checkered disc golf flag placed on the Lake Padden Golf Course on April 16. Lake Padden Golf Course is the planned site of a new permanent disc golf course in Bellingham, Wash. // Photo by Jenelle Baumbach

Bellingham City Council has taken the next steps to establish a permanent disc golf course at Lake Padden to meet the needs of the community’s growing interest in the sport. 

In correlation with a seemingly national trend, the sport of disc golf has grown dramatically in Bellingham over the past few years.

“Disc golf is growing in popularity all over the country and there is a strong niche of players in the Bellingham area,” Mike Fosnick, director of operations at Premier Golf, which manages Lake Padden Golf Course, said in an April 11 city council meeting.

The City of Bellingham just has one official disc golf course, located at Cornwall Memorial Park, which has been in operation since 1996. 

Mikkel Hong, Vice President of the Whatcom Disc Golf Club said, “Cornwall is used by so many people that there’s not really extra space where it’s feasible to play disc golf.”

The city and Premier Golf, the course management company that overlooks Lake Padden, decided to take advantage of an opportunity to create a new course at Lake Padden in order to meet the demands of the growing sport of disc golf.

“It’s in a developed golf course,” City Councilmember Edwin 'Skip' Williams said.  “As opposed to Cornwall, it’s a better facility, you can actually have very competitive tournaments.”

Following a decision to create a permanent place for a new course at Lake Padden, Bellingham City Council established and approved fees that will be implemented in the Lake Padden course. The rates start at $15 during the offseason and $21 during the season. 

“They were established after doing some comparisons with other disc golf courses and working with some of the experts that live here in Bellingham that have set up other courses,” Williams said. “It was felt that it would be a reasonable fee based on the information.”

This decision to formalize the course was based on the city’s pilot program, where four successful tournaments were held at Lake Padden Golf Course in the later months of 2021. 

Hong said that during the first tournament the clubhouse’s power went out and the second tournament experienced historic flooding. Despite these setbacks, the tournaments yielded a high turnout and great excitement among the community. 

These four tournaments in total generated $16,723 in revenue, according to the city council. Both the city and Premier Golf decided to move forward from the pilot program and implement a permanent course.

“We will be putting in a permanent course sometime later this year and right now as of latest discussions, it's going to be more of a league format rather than to be open to the public at this point,” said Alan Schwartz, designer of the Lake Padden Disc Golf Course. 

Expanding off of a pre-existing golf course, one challenge that has been recognized is the potential conflict of land use between disc golfers and regular golfers. 

To prevent any apprehension that golfers may feel about sharing land, Hong said that disc golfers need to learn to fit in with the culture of golf courses. 

“Once the golfers figure out that we aren’t trying to take away their golf course, people tend to get along very well,” Hong said. “The course is spread out pretty well, I don’t think there will be many opportunities for conflict.”

The city plans to have the permanent disc golf course at Lake Padden completed by November 2022, in time for the golfing slow season.



Jenelle Baumbach

Jenelle Baumbach (she/her) is a city news reporter at The Front. She studies political science and news/editorial journalism. 

You can contact her at jenellebaumbach.thefront@gmail.com


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