• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

How disc golf came to Woodford County

THE FOURSOME instrumental in bringing an 18-hole disc golf course to the Woodford County Park prepare to launch discs near the start of the course. From left, disc golf devotee Kevin Hall, Versailles-Woodford County Parks and Recreation Department director Rich Pictor, Woodford County Chamber of Commerce executive director Don Vizi and Joe Graviss, who's pledged half of the $15,000 budgeted for the course. (Photo by John McGary)

The Sun recently spent an afternoon with the "foursome" primarily responsible for bringing disc golf to the Woodford County Park. The course could be ready for play by July and the first tournament by October. Here, in their words, is how what disc golf devotees call the fastest-growing sport in America came to Woodford County. Kevin Hall, Versailles resident and avid disc golfer, met with the Versailles-Woodford County Parks and Recreation Board of Directors on Feb. 13, 2013. "I just told them it was a great game, an addictive game. I even brought my baskets and some discs in here . I think Rich and some of the guys on the (board) even threw some discs in the basket and they were like, 'We think the time will come .' Rich Pictor, Parks and Recreation director: "At that time, we knew the property adjacent to us was up for sale and the court was in the process of negotiating, possibly, to buy it. So the board held off and wanted to wait and see if the court obtained the property. We didn't want to build a small course if we knew we were going to have more land in the future. And obviously, the court did buy that land, and that future is now." Don Vizi, executive director of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce: "In February of 2015, we were . trying to find things for kids to do in Woodford County. So I went to R.J. Corman and applied for a grant for $7,500 to see if they would finance this. At one of the meetings, I met with Joe (Graviss), and I was telling him what our goal was and what we were trying to do, and he asked me why didn't I ask him for the money." Joe Graviss, owner of Graviss McDonald's Restaurants: "Everybody else does." Vizi (after a bit of laughter from the foursome): "And he said, 'How much do you need?' And I said, 'I need $7,500 to get this program .' So he said, 'You've got the money.' And so then Joe and I sat down with Rich (Pictor) and we went through a bunch of data that we had collected about . contractors and things like that and we decided to interview two of the individuals who were recommended to us, and between Rich, Joe and I, we decided on the one contractor, who is a professional disc golf course developer." They selected champion disc golfer and course designer David Greenwell of Louisville and agreed to pay him $2,500 to design the course. Graviss: "I keep trying to give (the $7,500 - half the cost of the course) to Rich and he says, 'Wait.' . McDonald's is all about balanced, healthy lifestyles, and this is clearly a great opportunity . for folks to get out, get active, get moving, get some exercise, and that's what we are really trying to promote. ." Hall (who spoke to Woodford Fiscal Court last month on the evening magistrates gave Pictor the go-ahead to build the course): "When everybody sees my name, like, Kevin Hall from Versailles, everybody's like, 'From Versailles? Where's that? Do you all have any courses?' and I'm always like, 'No we don't, but one day we will,' and it was kind of cool to see all that happen. . I grew up throwing Frisbees at trees. Now we don't refer to them as Frisbees, but discs. They're very high-tech-type discs, they aren't like your Walmart Frisbees. . Plus it has a lot of parallels to what we call 'ball golf' now. Once you become a disc golf geek, you refer to traditional golf as ball golf. But it has all the same - you know, you try to get the lowest score, longer drives, putts ." Hall explains that some discs, like 'ball golf' clubs, can break if thrown in anger. Some also float, should they land in a water hazard like the pond that will be on the Woodford County course. Graviss, on whether he's played the sport yet: "No, but I can't wait." Vizi: "No, I haven't played, either, but one thing that a lot of people don't realize (is that) this is an economic development generator, because if we bring in a professional golf tournament, we bring 400 to 600 people in here, you know what kind of money that generates. To make it free to the people of Woodford County is great, but from a chamber (of commerce) standpoint, we need to make money for the businesses in Woodford County." Asked if the long-anticipated Versailles hotel will be ready to host tournament players by October, Vizi says the course may be ready before the hotel. Pictor: "If the weather cooperates here this spring, and we can get the target areas cleared out, with the underbrush and stuff, we would hope for some time in July, maybe the first of August, that we would have it up and completely ready to go. . As far as overall use in the community from kids to older adults and retired people, this is going to be something that I think Versailles is going to fall in love with. Vizi: "Hopefully, we can get some people to donate some big trees so we can make it a little harder for the golfers. . Rich is working on clearing the stuff and my job is basically to find him things he needs and doesn't have to pay for." Hall, who's been clearing brush on the course with his own hands and tools: "That's what excited me about the course - the natural amenities that will become hazards for the golfers, be it the pond, or the brush or the groves, that they're going to have to go through. The woods, the undulations - all of that adds interest for the golfers (and) makes it more of a world-class course. Asked if there will be sand traps, Hall says he lost a stroke in the world championships in Minnesota when one of his discs came to rest in a sand trap he called a "disc magnet." Pictor: "They have talked about on one of the holes, potentially, putting a big stretch of sand down the middle of it as a possibility. . Anyone looking to donate trees or have a tree moved from their house or something . I'm working on next year's budget, I'm trying to put some money in right off the bat so we can get a couple of trees and maybe every year, keep adding more and more trees to the course, so that some of the holes now that are long and uphill, will be long and uphill with trees. The foursome discusses potential names for the course (Hall suggests 'McDonald's Course at Falling Springs,' which Graviss strongly endorses.) A name for Hole 2, which may become the longest hole in the state and a good marketing tool, is also suggested: 'The Big Mac.' Vizi: "We're going to be looking for sponsorships for the holes, and that (money) will then come back to parks and recreation to help maintain the course. So if anybody would like to be on the waiting list, they can give us a call and we can put them down and when we need 'em, we'll just ask them for the money." Graviss: "I think it's exciting, the way this is a kind of small, public-private partnership that we've got going here that really has worked extremely well. I'm very pleased by that." Hall: "Any parallel you can think of with traditional golf, disc golf has it. It's challenging for all ages, from small kids to, like, the senior tour. It's an awesome game - just wait until you get out there and play." Hall, who's already cleared the tee areas for the fifth and sixth holes: "(I used a) chainsaw and axe. Oh yeah. You all just don't know - I'm like a kid at Christmas. That's what I tell Rich. My wife thinks I'm an idiot. She does support me; she just thinks it's crazy to go out there and, 'You're 50 years old, and you're throwing a disc into a tree.' It's a game, but it's a very challenging game. And everybody's missed a two-foot putt in golf - you'll miss a 15-foot putt in disc golf, and it'll just the same way." People who'd like to volunteer their time to help build the course can call Pictor at 873-5498, while those who'd like to donate money can contact Vizi at 873-5122.

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