By Stephanie Choate
Even before local teenager Cole Bartlett finished installing baskets for a disc golf course in Williston Community Park, people were beginning to play.
“We already had a father and young son practicing on the course before we were complete,” said Bartlett’s father, Bill Bartlett. “I think he was 4 or 5 and really excited…. There were a couple of families out playing on the course during the Thanksgiving break, even though the tee pads are not yet complete.”
The Bartletts installed 12 disc golf baskets in late November. Though the course can be played on now (residents must bring their own discs), they will install gravel tee pads and several benches in the spring.
The baskets and tee pads will be the only visible signs of the course, which is located next to the soccer and baseball fields. The Bartletts will also gather volunteers to clear a large brush pile near the beginning of the course, and install a picnic table and small kiosk.
“It’s really meant to be as minimalistic as possible,” Bill Bartlett said.
Cole Bartlett, now a sophomore at Champlain Valley Union High, decided to work toward introducing disc golf to Williston for his eighth grade challenge.
“I thought it would be a great new activity for the town of Williston,” he said.
Bartlett said disc golf is an activity that individuals, groups or families can enjoy.
“It appeals to all people,” he said. “You don’t need a lot of athletic ability to do this sport. I think its good for anyone.”
Bill Bartlett said it’s also a way to keep kids—or adults—active that doesn’t necessarily require being on a team.
“For kids that don’t typically fit into the soccer or baseball team, the idea was to give them an active sport,” Bill Bartlett said. “One person can go out and play, families can go out and play.”
Bartlett worked with then-Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan, as well as members the Green Mountain Disc Golf Club, to develop a course.
He met with the town Planning Commission, which helped him focus in on a seven-acre parcel in the recreation park. Bartlett also needed approval from the Agency of Natural Resources. During the summer of 2013, he worked with local wetlands mapper Gunnar Olsen, inspecting trees and plants, performing core samples of the ground and reviewing soil samples. ANR approved his use of the land in the spring.
Meanwhile, Bartlett raised approximately $4,200 to purchase baskets and other materials for the course. Sponsors pitched in, from businesses to a couple local children who asked their parents to sponsor a basket in lieu of birthday gifts.
In September, the town approved Bartlett’s plan, and he installed the baskets in November—two years and many hours past the eighth grade challenge requirements. This winter, he plans to continue campaigning to raise the remaining funds he needs to purchase final materials—approximately $1,000.
Once the course is complete, disc golf will be offered as a two-week physical education program to Williston schoolchildren. Bartlett plans to donate discs and training materials to the school.
“It gets kids and families disconnected from electronics and TV,” Bill Bartlett said. “It’s right in the neighborhood and a safe, public area.”
This spring, Bartlett will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the course.
“I think it will be a great benefit to the community,” Cole Bartlett said. “It’s another activity for anyone to play, and it’s fun and enjoyable with family and friends.”
For more information, visit www.willistondiscgolf.com.
By Stephanie Choate