Sunday, July 15, 2012

Disc golf sails into Tomlinson Run State Park

NEW MANCHESTER - Mark Twain famously quipped that golf was "a good walk spoiled." He might have changed his assessment if he'd had the chance to play disc golf at Tomlinson Run State Park.

It's not so much a walk, but a hike. And disc golf doesn't have all the stresses of traditional golf. Players throw a disc like a Frisbee, only smaller, and try to get it into a "hole" that looks like an elevated metal cage.

"It's a growing sport," said Jesse Mestrovic, assistant superintendent at Tomlinson Run and designer of its new golf course. "It gets you to go outside, and that's what we need in today's society."

The 18-hole disc golf course opened at Tomlinson Run on June 30 after months of fundraising and development. Mestrovic, 26, hopes the course draws new attention and more visitors to the state park.

"It is really busy on the weekends," he said. "I think it's growing. I see more people every week playing, and it's getting positive reviews."

Mestrovic began exploring the idea for a disc golf course last November, when he approached the Tomlinson Run State Park Foundation about funding.

Then he contacted local disc golf enthusiast Kelsey Hedrick, an East Liverpool police officer, about making a presentation to the foundation. Hedrick is the designer of the 27-hole disc golf course at Thompson Park in East Liverpool.

"I knew they had a really nice course, and I heard some good things about it," Mestrovic said. After Hedrick's presentation, the foundation agreed to fund most of the $7,000 project.

Mestrovic proceeded to design the course with Hedrick's help. The two worked on the front nine together, and Mestrovic made adjustments to their plan for the back nine.

The front nine circumscribes the swimming pool in a clockwise fashion and is more suited for beginners. The back nine is more challenging, running into rough terrain along Tomlinson Run creek and ending at the old tennis courts.

The average hole length is 340 feet. Most of the holes are par 3, but three in the back nine are par 4. The tee box for the 11th hole overlooks a rocky cliff, while tee off for the fifth hole is from a rocky creek bed. The longest hole is 15 at 430 feet.

Mestrovic, a native of Wheeling, said he got interested in disc golf while attending West Virginia University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's in parks, recreation and tourism. He thought the sport would be a good fit for Tomlinson Run.

"I wanted to bring something new and exciting to the park," he said, "and at little cost." The course at Tomlinson Run is free.

After securing the funding, Mestrovic ordered the equipment in March and had it installed with the help of park staff. The course was designed so that it would not interfere with other park activities, Mestrovic said.

A second West Virginia state park, Pipestem Resort State Park, added a disc golf course earlier this year. Other nearby disc golf courses include the one at Thompson Park, a nine-hole course at Chester City Park, and the 18-hole Beatty Park Disc Golf Course in Steubenville.

The disc golf course at Tomlinson Run already has a listing on the website of the Professional Disc Golf Association.

(Huba can be contacted at


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