El Rio

Marana will build a new disc golf course, after the El Rio Open Space flooded.

Tucson Local Media

A patch of parched earth that makes up a flood plain on the southern tip of the El Rio Preserve may soon spring to life as the town’s newest disc golf course.

That’s the goal put forth by a coalition of local disc golfers and the town, which proposed an Intergovernmental Agreement with Pima County—who controls the land in question—during the town council’s session on June 20. 

The town previously operated an 18-hole facility in the pit from 2009 to September 2014, when flooding caused a levee between the course and the river to burst, creating the lake. 

The agreement would allow the town to build a new 18-hole course on the property, located on the northern end of Gladden Farms, with the potential of adding nine holes in the future. 

Such an arrangement would be welcome news to folks like Marana Disc Golf Club President Ian Paulow. 

Paulow said the 75-person club is ready to do whatever the town needs to get the course ready for play. 

“We’re just in standby mode,” Paulow said. “Once we get the all clear we’re ready to go out there and do some work for them.” 


Ready to help

This would not be the first time the club has pitched in to help the town, as they’ve provided hundreds of hours of manpower shaping previous courses on the now-flooded site, in 2009 and 2015. 

They were able to relocate nine of the baskets along the perimeter of the area known locally as “Lake Marana,” which allows them to maintain their league tournaments on Saturdays. 

The lack of space at the current course has kept the club from hosting their annual Lockdown tournament, which was held at the previous location from 2011-14. 

According to the town’s strategic plan for the property, the new site could accommodate upwards of 100 players for league play and 200 for tournaments, more than twice the number their previous locations could offer. 

Paulow says the club plans on digging up land for tee pads and handling the planning and layout for the facility. They’ll also handle course maintenance and upkeep, Paulow said, just as they’ve done at previous locations. 


Promising future

Southern Arizona has become a prime location for the sport, with five courses in Tucson in addition to the Marana facility. There are more than 4,000 courses nationwide, according to the Disc Golf Association’s website. 

Bob Stinson, Marana recreation coordinator, said the course, which is free to use, will serve town residents of all ages. 

“It’s a low cost activity, all you have to do is buy minimal equipment, so you can come out here, bring your kids and teach them how to play without a huge investment,” Stinson said. “So I think it’s a real amenity to the town. Anyone can show up and anyone can do it.” 

Paulow said bicyclists and joggers using the Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail approach him during league play, asking about the course and sport. 

“They say something like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that this was here’,” Paulow said. “So it’s just going to pique people’s interest in the sport.” 

Final approval of the one-year IGA, which has a $11,500 budget, is pending, though Stinson and Paulow are bullish about the course’s future.

“It’s just going to add to the number of options that you have in the area,” Paulow said. “It’s easily located just off the freeway, it’s in a nice neighborhood. You can ride your bike on the path to get here, and the more exposure that you have the better.” 

(1) comment

Mr Folf

Nice to see another course go in. The hole in the picture looks rather poorly designed but I can't see what they have to work with.

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