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Posted: May 24, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Porterdale may get disc golf course

Flying discs in the forest may soon be coming to Porterdale, an effort the mayor and council members hope will indirectly bring revenue and modernization to the small downtown while retaining and highlighting the history.
John Ritger, a disc golf course designer, presented a proposal to the Porterdale City Council Tuesday evening, and members voiced agreement on moving forward to begin fundraising for the 18-hole course.

Disc golf, a rapidly growing sport played much like traditional golf, minus greens fees and combining aspects of hiking and Frisbee, will benefit Porterdale in a unique way that most other courses cannot take advantage of – most courses, just like golf, are located in parks or on city outskirts. However, Porterdale’s course would start and finish in the downtown area, which would ideally benefit local businesses and food and beverage establishments.
A course would also be an efficient way to cheaply use a large amount of land, Ritger said, which would essentially tour players around Porterdale’s historic ruins, wetlands and scenic trees.

“There are a lot of old-growth trees back there that you don’t see too often anymore,” Ritger said.

People drive 30-60 minutes to play if the course is high-quality, Ritger said. He defined high-quality as at least a 4.0 rating. Of the 4,581 disc golf courses in the country, only 336 (7.3 percent) have a 4.0 rating or higher.
There are 82 courses in Georgia, 69 or which have been built since 2000. More than 30 of these courses are in Metro Atlanta, and two will open at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers in late 2014. However, these courses will be pay-to-play, while Porterdale’s is set to be free.

“There’s really nothing (good) east of Atlanta,” said Katja Dammann, a Porterdale resident who recently ranked 46th in the world for women’s disc golf.

She said disc golf is good for families, gets people out of the house and is cheap to play.

What’s planned?

Ritger proposed an 18-hole course because he said they have about four times the visitation levels of a 9-hole course. The course will have mostly par-3 holes of intermediate length.

There will be one pin position per hole, which is the equivalent of a hole in golf. Some courses have multiple positions, Ritger said, but his design is specific to what will be best for Porterdale. Two teepads, which are where golfers tee-off from, will accommodate beginners and advanced players.

Design goals prioritize a course that will bring the highest possible usage and will accommodate the largest number of players.

Safety is the next concern, Ritger said. A good course avoids overlaps in walking paths and disc trajectories, avoiding the possibility that anyone may be hit by a flying disc.

Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman said much of the brush clearing and set-up process for the course can be done in-house to save the city money. She said she was interested in Ritger’s idea to have businesses or companies sponsor a hole.

“In other areas, they were successful in getting brands (to sponsor) and grants because it’s such a popular and innovative sport. We would have to go that route,” Chapman said. “But I think we would successfully find the money to do it. There’s quite a bit of money involved. The equipment is certainly not cheap.”

She and council members agreed to move forward with beginning fundraising steps.

“I think it’s a win-win. It’s a good fit for us, especially since (Ritger) has walked all over the land, and it’s a perfect location. Demographically with the kayaking, if we can add that to the mix, it would be great for the economy of the city.”

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