Whitehorse disc golfers couldn’t believe what they found when they went to play a round last week – or didn’t find, as the case may be.
Instead of searching for their discs in bushes, they were looking for the targets and not finding them.
At some point last week, all 18 targets in the Takhini North Disc Golf Course were stolen by unknown culprits.
“I believe they are taking it out because they don’t want it there. A couple of people have stubborn feelings about the course and disc golf in general,” said Ryan Norquay, president of the Whitehorse Disc Golf Association. “I don’t have anything to go on, we just want some information.”
A few of the targets, a.k.a. “tonals” or “tone cans,” were first noticed missing on Oct. 11. By the end of last week all 18, as well as two from the neighbouring Solstice DGC, were gone. Not only were they pulled from the ground, most of the holes were then filled in with soil and smoothed over, said one source. The only remaining evidence there was a course was a single rebar anchor left in the ground.
“One was returned. I got a call from a school teacher … and he had found tone can four behind his house in the woods,” said Norquay. “That initiated a search party. Went around and searched deeper into the woods, couldn’t find any other trace. They would have needed a vehicle or a wagon to haul these out of there. It would have been quite heavy, all of them together. A few hundred pounds for sure. Maybe they threw them in the woods and forgot about one when they came back to get them.”
The tonals were made from repurposed galvanized stove piping. They ring out to indicate a direct hit. The tone cans date back to the early days of the sport, before it evolved to using steel baskets with chains.
“(Tonals) had their place in disc golf history,” said Norquay. “As disc golf was growing and targets were changing, tonal target courses were very popular in the 70s and early 80s. There are still quite a few around – they’re heritage items.”
Though the current Takhini North course dates back to only 2009, the tonals go back a lot further than that. The stolen tonals were the exact same ones used in the original Takhini course in the early 1980s.
“There’s a huge amount of sentimental value – those tone cans have been around since the 80s,” said Dan Reimer, who set up the course with Richard Vladars.
“I hope it’s not gone forever. It was a beautiful walk. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope to enjoy it a lot more.”
The original course, which was approved by the city, was Whitehorse’s first. It was later taken down to accommodate the expansion of Takhini in 2008.
To compensate the disc golf community, the city helped construct the course at Mount McIntyre – Whitehorse’s only course with basket targets.
Reimer and Vladars then set up a new Takhini course without permission of the city. It was short lived. They ended up having to dismantle it when a Takhini resident complained. However, they later received permission from the city to re-rebuild the course.
“Somebody lied to the city, said they represented the Takhini North (Community Association),” said Reimer. “One person was deeply against this thing going in. I knew who she was.
“Richard and I took it down, but we went to the city to say we wanted to legitimize it. I mean, it was a great thing.”
“We sent them a map – a layout of the course – they approved it and we reset up the course,” continued Reimer. “Then there were more complaints with this particular individual and we walked the course with her, addressed some of her concerns … She was deeply offended that she had to look at these tones when she walked.”
The person in question, who was not named, has admitted to stealing tonals in the past, said Reimer.
The fact that someone doesn’t want to see a few tonals while on a walk – or people enjoying the sport of disc golf – does not justify the actions taken last week, adds Norquay.
“This course was installed legitimately. The map was brought to the city of Whitehorse, it was brought to the Takhini North Community Association, the locations were agreed upon,” said Norquay.
“There is one neighbour I am aware of (who disliked the course). In my experience, I found nobody but supporters of our course and our sport being there in Takhini. All the resident we have spoken with are happy to see us out there, have been interested and have wanted to get involved as well.”
The Whitehorse Disc Golf Association got a quote for how much it would cost to replace and install the tonals. The total was $3,450.
The association has also filed a police report with the RCMP.
Norquay hopes anyone with information on the missing tonals will contact the association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If the tone cans found their way back to their homes, we would drop the case with the RCMP,” he said.
Contact Tom Patrick at