Revival spurs renaissance for disc golf at Lagoon Valley

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What started as a park revitalization project has sparked a renewed awareness of the game of disc golf and of the city of Vacaville, as well.

It’s all good, says Chris Brown, the Davis disc golfer who initiated the Lagoon Valley Revival in February and, with the support of his loyal GoonSquad, continues to make strides in whipping the park’s disc golf course into tip-top shape.


“The outpouring of support we’ve seen has just been amazing,” he said, advising that disc golfers from all over the state have lent aid. “We’ve got a lot going on.”


In slightly more than four months, Brown, a recent chemical engineering graduate from the University of California, Davis, and his “Goonies,” have invested thousands of man hours and just as many dollars into the course. It’s been a labor of love and a monumental learning experience.


“This is my first time doing anything like this,” he explained. “We put $3,000 into the course already. When we first talked (in February), we’d only put in about $1,000.”


Of that initial investment, nearly half came from his own pocket.


These days, funding and free labor comes from the host of fundraisers put on by his crew, now nearly 330-strong, as well as other supporters. There’s a doubles game every Saturday, a tag game the first Sunday of every month and other games whenever the mood hits. Like last month in honor of 12-year-old James “Little Man” Jefferson of Fairfield. The tournament raised twice what was needed to send the talented youth and his family to the disc golf world championships in July.


As for backers, just last week, Brown snagged a significant financial contribution from Napa-based Nor-Cal Plastics to help with the replacement and repair of tee pads. He also received a cubic yard of concrete from Vacaville-based Castle & King Rock & Ready Mix, Inc. for a future project.


The effort, often back-breaking, is all about community, Brown offered, about enhancement and giving back when you can. It’s what inspired him to embark on this grassroots project after stumbling upon the dilapidated 27-hole, 7,500-foot course.


With the city’s blessing, he’s already replaced 27 tee signs, added navigational signs, installed multiple additional pin positions, framed and poured numerous tee pads and cleared ample amounts of debris.


He’s seeking support from the city’s Community Services Commission for a $5,000 grant for more improvements including eight trash cans, the replacement of 12 more tee pads, the addition of 12 trees, additional signs and maintenance needs, possibly even a lockbox for donations.


Martin Prayther of Vacaville, a disc golfer stationed at Travis Air Force Base, described the course as very much improved and the revival project as a worthwhile endeavor.


“I want to make sure people know about disc golf, what it is, to come out and have fun,” said the Indiana native last week as he helped Brown frame and pour two new tee pads. “What we’ll have out here is a greater course that’s very challenging.”


Down the road, Brown sees the possibility of a moneymaker for the city as well as an updated course for players and a beautiful park for the community.


His suggestions include an on site pro shop with discs and refreshments and the sale of annual or seasonal parking passes for players. Enthusiasts from all over the state compete in the GoonSquad’s fundraising tournaments, he said, and if just 20 percent of his members buy a pass at $25-$35, that’s nearly $4,000 in revenue.


Also, as more competitors come to Vacaville, he said, they’ll eat here, possibly stay overnight here and, essentially, spend here.


“It’s good for the course and it’s good for Vacaville,” he continued.


As for his team, Brown sees it evolving into a nonprofit and hosting golf clinics for youths, volunteer work days and more.


For now, the focus is to get the park up to par regarding Professional Disc Golf Association regulations and prepare for the team’s first PDGA-sanctioned event in years. On Nov. 8-9, the GoonSquad will host the Chuck Freedlun Memorial to Benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. All proceeds will go toward improving the lives of veterans and their families.


There’s also another tournament in July where teams will also battle for best chili cook.



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