To preserve and manage the Baldfoot Disc Golf Complex to provide a free, safe, healthy and enjoyable venue for disc golf for the regional community.
This is the mission statement of Great Northern Disc Golf Inc. A non-profit organization founded in January 2022.
“We started the process in November or December, but we had been talking about it for years,” said Great Northern Disc Golf board director John Gaddess. “We got together and started our own nonprofit and started finding ways to legitimize it.”
Before the group opened the nonprofit, it was known simply as the Sandpoint Disc Golf Association, which was organized in 2015.
“It was a council of people who wrote the statutes,” Gaddess said. “It was very laid back and it’s like how every nonprofit gets started, you’re banking on people volunteering for a common cause, but no one was really getting anything out of it.”
The next step for the foundation was to establish reliable and consistent regulations.
“It was a very difficult task,” Gaddess said. “We gathered as many bylaws from other local nonprofits as possible for reference. It took a while to find something we could all settle on.
With the bylaws written, it was time for Gaddess and Vice President Mike Givens to form a trusted board of people who could take the nonprofit to the next level.
“We recruited a lot of dedicated and determined people,” Gaddess said. “They are all smart and passionate about disc golf.”
The Great Northern Disc Golf Board of Directors continuously work together to ensure that the upkeep of the Baldfoot Disc Golf course is taken care of.
“Above all, we want to preserve the course,” Givens said. “That’s the biggest part of our mission statement.”
The city and the organization have a good working relationship, according to Gaddess, but the fate of the course almost always hangs in the balance.
“There is no evil force on the other side that we come up against,” Gaddess said. “We see this as preserving the course and saving what is here.”
Gaddess called Baldfoot a regional staple not only for disc golf, but also for outdoor enthusiasts.
While knowing that the course is such a favorite among Sandpoint locals, it may come as a surprise that the park is apparently in play.
Well, according to Gaddess, that’s because it’s city property but it’s not a city park. The property was purchased for the sewer district.
“The city has a responsibility to manage this in a beneficial way,” Gaddess said. “There are legal obligations that fall on the city and they can’t just sweep them into the park system. We are working with the city to convince them to preserve this area as a public place.
The possibility of the price closing is still possible, but not as likely as it was three years ago according to Gaddess.
“With COVID-19 and the increase in population, the city council has had more important things on its agenda,” he said. “So it’s been marginal lately, but it’s starting to get a bit more scrutiny due to the sewer rate analysis which is almost complete.”
Following an assessment by the city, it was determined that the square footage of the course is valued at over $1,000,000.
“The city should find that,” Gaddess said. “It’s a lot of money when you have potholes and missing sidewalks and stuff.”
From the mission statement, it is evident that Great Northern Disc Golf wants everyone to enjoy the game, but most importantly, to have a clean and reliable course to play on.
“From now on, that’s where a lot of the funds are going,” Gaddess said. “We spent almost $1,000 on the parking lot just to put gravel on. We could do that three times in this parking lot and it would start to look like a real parking lot.
The Baldfoot Disc golf course is exclusively maintained by group members. They put together “task forces” and according to Givens, nearly 10 people show up religiously to help keep things on track.
“We come here and we’ll clean up the course or the kids’ course,” Givens said. “It’s a dedicated group of about 10-20 people who will show up and help out.”
This effort by the group and those who support the purpose of the organization is a perfect example of what the disc golf community is all about.
“We wanted to start by maintaining (Baldfoot) but now we are also focused on growing the sport,” Givens said. “I started disc golf in 2014 when my buddies took me to a church parking lot and told me to throw the disc. I was terrible at first but slowly but surely I got better and better. I was almost addicted to coming here. This is what we want for the future.
Among the major fundraising efforts established by the non-profit organization is a disc golf clinic for young people.
It was a huge success not just for the youngsters, but for the overall future of the sport.
“We get reports on Facebook from people saying they want their kids to participate in sports,” Gaddess said. “We asked different schools to contact us to see how they could incorporate it into their curriculum. We really try to help the community.
The group also had their first event of the 2022 calendar year with their “Lost in the Fir Trees” tournament.
This tournament took place on Saturday, May 21, at the famous local attraction “Lost in the 50s” hence the name of the event. It still attracted 72 players.
“We had to cap it because of the length of the tournament,” Givens said. “Disc golf is its own draw. That’s why we named it after the motor show. This speaks to the popularity of disc golf.
The group raised $1,700 after the tournament; the money raised through these events goes directly to improving the course.
“Right now, it’s up to us to keep this place maintained and in good shape,” Givens said. “There is no one who is paid to take this place; it’s just us.
Great Northern Disc Golf Inc. holds league events on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5:30 p.m., with singles taking place on Tuesdays and doubles on Fridays. He will also have his next “Double Trouble Baldfoot Bash” event on August 13.
“It will be an 18-hole, two-round event,” Givens said. “We hope to bring together around 108 players in order to have four players per map.”
The children’s course and the pro course will be open for the tournament. The group anticipates that the number of participants in this event will be even greater than that of the event “Lost in the trees”.
“We’ll have nine extra holes and we’ll play the best shot on the adult course and the worst shot on the kid’s course,” Givens said. “The kids course is a par 3, but it’s fun because if you shoot it near the basket and your partner shoots it into the trees, that’s where you have to shoot from.”
Registration for the event will begin on July 9.
Strengthened by the group’s commitment, loyal patrons and its teamwork with the city, the organization is confident in its future.
“We hope the city council and the public will support the idea of using general funds to purchase the property and move it to the park system,” Gaddess said. “We are working hard with city staff to try to formulate a good concept of potential stages to preserve the course. That’s our main focus right now and staying involved in the community.