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A new sport takes flight
T he sun is bright and its blaz ing hot. The angle of sunlight through the trees makes the narrow fairways seem even tighter. And amid the llamas, the barn and unbelievable dog-leg curves, Scott Papa and John Conte continually find the fairway, exchange congratulations, pick up their bags and head off in search of their discs.
Welcome to golf Dalaiwood style.
Dalaiwood is the disc golf course conceived and built by Papa on his own property in Olalla, providing area golfers a much-needed place to play.
We actually moved onto the property in the beginning of 1999, Papa, 41, said. And through that year and up to 2000, my wife and I designed and built the course.
The idea was to eliminate as few trees as possible and build a course that catered to the natural lay of the land. That process included lots of sitting in the woods, envisioning fairways and basket locations, Papa said.
There was a lot of pink contractors tape running through where I could see fairways actually going through the trees, Papa said. (Tree-wise) we took out nothing bigger than about four inches.
After getting the layout down, which took four or five months, Papa went through, fairway by fairway, clearing brush and debris and letting the natural pass of the trees create fairways.
Dalaiwood is an 18-hole course that meanders through the woods, measuring 4,575 feet in its longest form but also plays as short as 4,063 feet.
Usually, disc golf courses, wed like to have an acre a hole, Papa said. Some would use more, some would use less depending on the length of it. An average course will fit really nicely on 20 acres. This course fits on about nine.
It actually ends up being a smaller course, but one of the most technical, Papa said. When I talk to all the different world champion-level players whove come through and played it, its one of their favorite courses.
Papa, who is one of those champion-level players, first got introduced to the sport while living in California. From there, he moved to the Chicago area and became hooked.
And for the last 10 years, he has not only become one of the top players in the country, he has done his best to help grow and promote the sport in Washington.
With no disc golf courses in the West Sound area, Papa took it upon himself to create Dalaiwood and was instrumental in getting a new course opened in May at NAD Park in Bremerton.
But his focus remains on competing he will play in the World Championships in Iowa next month and the U.S. Open in October and helping grow the sport in the Kitsap Peninsula area.
His course, although private, is open to the public and he has gone out of his way to make the experience a fun one.
At the first tee, which sits inside a barn, golfers will find score cards with a course layout and distances of each hole. Each tee also has a layout of each hole showing location of the basket and where the trouble is.
And before or after a round, golfers can shop at the pro shop in Papas garage where he has a wide variety of discs, including those from DisCraft, a company that sponsors him on tour, bags, hats and shirts.
One wall is decorated with photos of world champions that have visited the course.
And hes seen plenty of golfers come through, about 200 a week in the summer months, as more and more golfers pick up the sport.
People are flocking to it, Papa said. And its for three reasons, I think. First, everyones thrown a Frisbee, basically. Its just natural, theres no giant learning curve to be even semi-proficient at it.
Second, its not really super physically demanding its basically a walk in the park where you are throwing frisbees or discs at targets, Papa said. And third, generally, its free to play everywhere. And the entry cost into it, a family of four can get into the sport for $40. You cant get into many sports like that.