The Whitehorse Disc Golf Association is on the brink of beginning construction on a world-class disc golf course in Whitehorse.
The association has funding, the support of a wide swath of groups and organizations, leaders in equipment manufacturing and course design ready to hop on a plane from Europe, and a small army of volunteers ready to help build and maintain it.
The WDGA is now waiting for approval from the Yukon government’s land management branch, which the association hopes to receive in the next couple of weeks.
“So we’re sitting, ready to go with an amazing project, volunteers ready to do the work, funding in place, and just hoping for the opportunity to have the land,” said WDGA president Ryan Norquay.
Whitehorse is already home to a number of disc golf courses, but the proposed course would be in a whole other class. The 18-hole course would be classified a championship course, meaning it would be much longer and challenging, but would accommodate both high-level and novice players. It would meet the requirements of the Professional Disc Golf Association, so Whitehorse could host major tournaments. It would have Astroturf tee boxes, signage and even a warm-up hole. It would also have proper metal baskets – the target for each hole – that catch the discs.
The only current course in Whitehorse with baskets is the course on Mount McIntyre.
“To host A tier tournaments and champion events, we need to have a proper basket course, and a long enough basket course that’s actually challenging so we can really develop our game,” said Norquay. “The current course at Mount McIntyre is a lot of fun, but once you learn that path through the trees, it kind of takes the skill out of it because the real skill is just to not hit the trees.”
The WDGA submitted an application with the government’s land branch in June for a 6.3-hectare parcel of Whitehorse city land. The proposed location is bounded by the Alaska Highway, Yukon College, and the neighborhoods of Takhini, Kopper King and Porter Creek.
“We feel it’s a beautiful place for disc golf,” said Norquay. “There’s been reclamation on the gravel pits and the trails there, probably from when the highway was being built. When there was a refinery they were using a lot of that area as a gravel pit, so it provides open clearings for us so we don’t have to cut trees. It’s got a great variety of elevation. It’s got beautiful scenery and wildlife. It’s already an amazing recreation space.
“It would be such a great link between the neighbourhoods, between Takhini North, Porter Creek, Kopper King.”
The name of the proposed course is the Solstice DiscGolfPark. The WDGA already has a temporary course set up nearby called Solstice. The name was inspired by the beautiful scenery members marvelled at while playing there in February. (Yep, hardcore disc-golfers play year-round.)
“We’ve talked with a lot of residents in Takhini North and we’ve been trying to figure a way to reconstruct the course so the play won’t obstruct safety or come to close to the houses,” said Norquay.
The idea of the course took off when Norquay sent out emails, searching for deals on the steel baskets to upgrade a course in Takhini North. One of his emails caught the attention of a vice president of Discmania, a manufacturer of disc golf equipment out of Finland that owns a course design company called DiscGolfPark.
DiscGolfPark has created courses throughout Europe and in the U.S. and have been looking to break into the Canadian market.
“It just so happened my proposal ended up on their desks at the start of this initiative and they offered us this pilot project, which is to offer us this complete turnkey package disc golf park designed by professionals with top-of-the-line equipment, Astroturf tee pads, graphical info boards and signs – all meeting all the requirements and standards set out by the international organization,” said Norquay.
“And they are doing this at a 50 per cent cost reduction, so they are going to donate 50 per cent of the cost.”
Like any world-class facility, the course has a hefty price tag. According to the WDGA’s economic summary, the course carries a cost of $71,503.75. However, pending approval of the Yukon’s land management, WDGA will receive $14,475 from the Community Development Fund. With the contribution of Discmania, volunteer labour and donations from business and individuals, the WDGA has raised the remainder.
The association has also received letters of support from the City of Whitehorse, the Yukon government’s sports and recreation branch, Sport Yukon, the Takhini North Community Association, B.C. Disc Sports, Professional Disc Golf Association, Educational Disc Golf Experience, Inc., and more.
With government approval, and subsequent approval from the City of Whitehorse, Norquay hopes to have the course up and running by the end of October. Like the other courses in Whitehorse, it would be free to play. Technically, all one would need is a disc.
“This application is still under review and we’re sitting waiting, fingers crossed, to get the opportunity to showcase disc golf in the Yukon with a really excellent company to partner with,” said Norquay.
“I want to have people travel from throughout the territory, Alaska – there are a lot of great players in Alaska. I know supporters in British Columbia who would love the opportunity to come up and play a tournament here too. And I see it reaching much, much farther.”
The WDGA encourages people to show support for the course by liking the Solstice DiscGolfPark page on Facebook.
Contact Tom Patrick at