The DeLaveaga Disc Golf Club is a not-for-profit civic organization dedicated to improving and maintaining our beautiful park lands while promoting the sport of disc golf. Our club members bring their own tools, do their own work, and invest their own time, money, and energy into club efforts. It is this very civic spirit which has sustained the club for more than 27 years, allowing us to build one of the most famous disc golf courses in the world, produce multiple world champions, and transform Santa Cruz into the “Epicenter of Disc Golf.”
The club is always involved in civic projects outside of DeLaveaga Wilderness Park, with efforts that span the entire Monterey Bay region. The club works closely with local high schools, colleges, and universities to foster the growth of disc golf as a scholastic and inter-collegiate competitive sport. The club donates baskets and other equipment to local high schools to build their own courses, and to teach the kids about the unique civic ethic that the sport of disc golf both requires and fosters.
Disc golf offers an ideal way for governments to manage idle park properties that are difficult to control, and which may have become overgrown and dangerous due to the illicit criminal activities that such places tend to attract and harbor. Many governments do not have the resources to continuously police all their park areas or keep them in a well-maintained state. Disc golf is a simple, cost-effective, and proven way to transform such park areas into vibrant community centers where people of all ages and skills can go and have the purest fun, and all for a very low (or no) cost to the government as well as to the park user (playing disc golf only requires a disc to start playing; these sell for around $10 new). Many courses are paid for, and set up by, their local disc golf clubs, who have simple methods to raise funds for disc golf targets and course development and maintenance.
There exist numerous examples of actual park properties where disc golf has transformed overgrown and crime-ridden parks into popular park spaces enjoyed by all:
1) The DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course itself is an excellent example. The problem with the Wilderness Park is that no single government entity has ever controlled it, due to a complex legal issue that originated when the DeLaveagas donated the property for the public use. DeLaveaga used to be overgrown with poison oak and was completely defiled by the ubiquitous dumping of large items of trash, old cars, dead appliances, tires, etc.. The densely forested park was inhabited by numerous drifters and campers, was a warren for illicit drug use and other crimes, and was the central location where high school-aged kids came to party and fire guns into the air. Remnants of the broken beer bottles from this era can still be found all around the “top of the world” and the surrounding hillsides, having themselves become part of the soil. In 1983 Tom Schot brought the World Disc Championships to Santa Cruz, an event that drew over 100,000 spectators and thousands of competitors. As part of this event, he installed the first 18-hole course at DeLaveaga, and the rest is history. The city never paid a single penny for the course. Today the park is virtually crime free owing to the constant traffic of disc golfers. The course is beautifully kept and mowed by the club, and the club’s own expense and labor. The values of adjacent properties have risen enormously. The course is one of the top tourist attractions for traveling disc golfers. The club continues to host international competitive events every year which bring in competitors and spectators from around the world. All of this activity generates countless revenue for the city of Santa Cruz and prosperity for the local businesses. The city also receives an estimated $60,000 per year in revenue from the parking fees they charge at the course ($2/day or $40/year). The course provides the youth with a clean outdoor activity, steering them away from the “boredom” that usually leads to trouble. And this is only part of the story. DeLaveaga is a classic success story for conversion of troubled park lands into vibrant and valuable community centers.
2) John Mackey Park, Sacramento. This park lies in a triangular wedge of land near the decrepit Del Paso corridor, and is cut off from adjacent park lands by railroad tracks. Old working class neighborhoods, light industrial corridors, a light rail station, and a nearby freeway give the park a unique flavor. Unfortunately, this park used to be one of the worst places in Sacramento owing to…