If Saturday’s grand opening of the Eagle Point Disc Golf Course is any indication, St. Elmo’s mayor has succeeded in coming up with a new community attraction that people of all ages can enjoy.
Mayor Jayson Porter estimated that more than 200 people turned out for the grand opening, with many of those playing the new disc golf course that is laid out over close to 26 acres at Lake Nellie north of town on the St. Elmo blacktop.
Many of those showing up for the grand opening were local residents, some who were playing the new course for the first time and others who had take advantage of the course since its opening in May.
The turnout also included experienced disc golf players from other communities, with one of those being a resident of Rantoul.
Porter got the idea of building a disc golf course in St. Elmo after a friend introduced him to the sport by taking him to the course in Effingham. He became hooked on the sport right away.
I was addicted from that point on, said Porter, who while serving as an alderman, was among the group that presented the disc golf course idea to the full city council.
The council agreed to support the building of the course, which has cost the city about $8,000 to construct. Vandalia Correctional Center Work Camp crews have helped city workers clear brush, and city workers have built the tee boxes and installed the basket goals on the 18-hole course.
We looked at putting this at several places, including Deken Park, Porter said.
But Deken Park wouldnt work well, he said. The terrain is flat, there really wouldnt be enough land for this, and it wouldnt be as challenging as this is, Porter said.
And it is challenging, especially compared to many other disc golf courses, he said. Many courses are laid out on relatively level ground in nicely manicured parks.
Eagle Point is laid out over the hills and valleys of the Lake Nellie property, with many trees and brush-covered areas being among the obstacles.
This is a fun, rugged and challenging course, Porter said.
Wilbur Wallis of Rantoul, who is president of the Peoria disc golf club, agrees.
The holes are very challenging, particularly because of the elevation changes, said Wallis, who has played 186 disc golf courses in the Illinois and 13 other states.
This course is not that long, but it plays a lot longer because of those elevation changes, which is good, I think, he said. Me, I like a challenge.
Porter said some improvements, such as steps on some of the hills and some benches, are planned, and the city is working with St. Elmo High School personnel to incorporate the use of the course into the schools physical education curriculum.
One of the things Porter likes about disc golf is that it can be enjoyed by all ages, and can be a family activity.
My wife plays, and my children are starting it, too, he said. This is something thats a good family activity, something they can do together and something that is good exercise.
In the short time that Eagle Point has been open, its seen a lot of use, he said.
Any night that you drive by here, there will be somebody out here playing, Porter said.