Wesley Shinevar stands by one of the holes at the Ingham Park disc golf course.
Got a neighborhood park with a questionable reputation? Installing a disc golf course may be the most cost effective way to bring back positive traffic.
Disc golf is catching on in Lansing due to new courses and friendlier relationships with local government, said Lansing disco golfer Wesley Shinevar.
Wrapping up the summer season, Lansing disc golf team the Capital City Renegades are hosting an open tournament Saturday, while the PDGA World Women’s Championships will be held Sept. 20 at Burchfield Park in Holt.
“Maybe in the ‘70s you had hippy Frisbee guys, but it has evolved into a professional game everyone can play,” said Shinevar.
Shinevar initiated the construction of the first disc golf course within the city limits earlier this year.
Falling prey to illicit activity and stagnation, Ingham Park needed a makeover, said Shinevar.
“The city had naturalized the park in 2011, which means that they ran out of money to mow it,” said Shinevar. “There used to be picnic tables and grills; it was a good family spot for people to come out and enjoy.”
This changed after naturalization, said Shinevar. “There were a lot of people coming out in the middle of the woods — doing things they shouldn't be doing — and knew Ingham Park as a place to do that.”
During this time, Shinevar began to fall in love with disc golf.
“I used to enjoy playing traditional golf, but it was just so expensive. Rounds are $30 to $40, clubs are $100. Plus, you have to buy balls,” Shinevar said.
“My buddies gave me three discs for free, and that was all I needed. The cost of new discs are $10 to $12 a piece,” said Shinevar. “That was one of the things I loved about disc golf. It has a cheap cost of entry.”
Once Shinevar began playing disc golf regularly, something clicked.
“I was jogging up on the road by the park, and thought it would be really great to have a beginner friendly disc golf course,” said Shinevar. “I saw this as a great loosely wooded course that is a little shorter,” said Shinevar.
Grassroots work began.
“I visited with as many neighbors around this park as I could, and I met with some South Lansing groups to talk about the idea,” said Shinevar. “What I heard from neighbors is when they naturalized this area, it turned into a negative space. They were open to something that could change that.”
After taking his case to councilmember Adam Hussain and neighborhood leader Jason Wilkes, Shinevar said the idea for Ingham Park to become a disc golf course gained more traction.
“The course went in November of last year,” said Shinevar. “It took 18 months from the conception of the idea to when the baskets went in. For this being a naturalized area, it was opening up a can of worms. They hadn't ever gone back to revisit these naturalized areas to do something with them.”
Disc golf has the ability to provide traffic to overgrown or abandoned areas, said Shinevar. “A cool thing about disc golf is that it is not invasive. You don't have to cut the fairways and change the land a ton. There is a lot less maintenance too.”
Shinevar added that nature aspect of the sport is helping it catch on.
“We are able to keep this wildlife while putting in the disc golf course. It is a nice blend of activities people can do.”
Ingham Park is located at 2700-2898 Viking St., Lansing.