Disc golf course unveiled at Sassafras Park in Amsterdam, nine holes are playable now

A man with a disc golf net

Disc Golf course co-designer Terry Hudson of Clifton Park talks about the latest edition to outdoor entertainment introducing the Dove Creek Disc Golf Course at Sassafras Hollows on Henrietta Boulevard Thursday, June 8, 2023.

AMSTERDAM — Disc golf has been added to the list of recreation options offered in Amsterdam as the first nine holes for Dove Creek Disc Golf Course at Sassafras Hollow opened Thursday.

Friends Terry Hudson and Shawn Collins approached city officials in recent years seeking to bring the sport they love to their hometown.

“There was a big void of disc golf courses over the Amsterdam area,” Hudson said Thursday. “I’m thrilled to be able to come here to install a disc golf course… It’s a great free activity.”

Although he wasn’t previously familiar with the game, Mayor Michael Cinquanti said he was quickly convinced to support the project by their enthusiasm.

“The activities in Amsterdam are constantly growing,” Cinquanti said. “We can’t say thank you enough.”

Sassafras Park was selected to host the course that starts on open fields bordering the playground before following trails into the woods and making use of natural features around Dove Creek.

“This had the right feel of going through the woods. It didn’t take park space away, it added to what we have,” said Rob Spagnola, director of Amsterdam’s Tourism, Marketing and Recreation Department.

Montgomery County will provide roughly $15,000 from bed taxes collected to support tourism activities to cover the cost of the 18 disc golf baskets to be installed at the new course, according to county Executive Matthew Ossenfort.

The course in Amsterdam will be the second such venue in Montgomery County since the disc golf course opened at Thomas H. Burbine Memorial Forest in Charleston in fall 2020. Local resident Mark Hay spearheaded that project with support from the county.

“It was an incredible journey and I was amazed every step of the way with how it grew,” Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said. “We’ve seen people travel from other states regularly to play in Charleston.”

Ossenfort hopes the presence of two disc golf courses in the area will become a greater attraction for tourists helping to showcase the full range of amenities within the county.

The first nine holes at Sassafras Park are already playable with mostly buckets for holes and markers for tees in place temporarily to test the course designed by Hudson and Collins with support from members of the Capital Region Disc Golf Club (DisCap).

Permanent metal baskets for the front half of the course should be installed by the end of the summer after any needed adjustments are made based on experience at play.

The front nine holes covering around 2,000-feet were designed with beginners in mind. The back nine holes planned for installation next year will introduce more difficult elements.

“Because there is no disc golf in Amsterdam, we wanted the front nine to at least be very easy and accessible for beginners,” Collins said. “The back nine is going to be a little more challenging, there is a lot more elevation change and holes are going to be a little bit longer.”

Hudson and Collins in recent months did much of the site work clearing vegetation from trails and installing the temporary baskets with support from other community members.

Members of local Boy Scout Troop 48 tested their engineering skills by designing and installing natural stairs along the trail and a wooden bridge over Dove Creek to support the course.

“They put a lot of thought and time into this,” said Brent Phetteplace, an assistant scoutmaster and member of the neighboring Amsterdam Town Board. “It was a great project and we’re proud to be part of it.”

Troop members earned the Paul Bunyan Award for their efforts and dedicated the bridge to the memory of former cubmaster Matthew Odendahl, said Rebecca Slezak, scoutmaster of Troop 48 and Montgomery County Supreme Court justice.

While the course is still a work in progress, Hudson and Collins are eager to bring the free outdoor activity to the local community. Players only need a basic frisbee to get started.

“I love the camaraderie of the game. The quiet walks in the woods,” Collins said. “The flight of the disc is very satisfying.”

Disc golf follows the rules of traditional golf. Each throw of the disc or frisbee counts as a single stroke. The hole is complete when the disc is tossed into the basket.

“It’s hiking and golf together. You can’t ask for anything more fun,” Hudson said.

Additional upgrades to the course are expected over time. Collins, living just around the corner, will lead course maintenance and also wants to help restore the walking trails at Sassafras Park for general use in harmony with the new disc golf course.

“There are quite a few families that when I come here on a daily basis talk about going for nature walks with their kids and I want them to feel safe,” Collins said. “There’s not a lot of outdoor activities in our area.”

Eventually, family friendly community events, monthly meetups with DisCap and tournaments are expected to be hosted at the park.

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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