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Gargoyle Park Disc Golf Course Fund to bring pandemic-proof recreation to Olean

Wed, Dec 16th 2020 12:00 pm

The popularity of the sport of disc golf has exploded, especially over the summer months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to the efforts of a few local disc golf enthusiasts, the recently established Gargoyle Park Public Disc Golf Course Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation will help bring the first public disc golf course to Cattaraugus County in the city of Olean.

Richard Longer, a packaging engineer at Zippo and a local disc golf enthusiast, is among those leading the efforts to bring disc golf to the area.

“As it gradually becomes clear that merely being outside anywhere is the safest environment, disc golf has been exploding with a host of other outdoor activities,” said Longer. “The Twin Tiers Disc Golf Club (Longer is a member) has partnered with the City of Olean to introduce free, social-distance-friendly, year-round recreation, in the form of a disc golf course at Gargoyle Park, a beautiful 49-acre gem in the heart of Olean and Allegany. Larger cities would be envious to have such a facility.”

Longer, along with Kris Shewairy, City of Olean Youth and Recreation Program Coordinator, presented a plan to build a disc golf course in Gargoyle Park to the Olean City Council in November and immediately received the city’s blessing to pursue the project and begin fundraising.

Dennis Casey led the way with a Gold Sponsorship by Casey, Halwig & Hartle Funeral Home. “It’s a blast,” said Casey who tried disc golf for the first time with his teenage son after his gym teacher introduced students this fall at Allegany Limestone High School.

“Who can play? The simple answer is everyone can. You will find men, women and kids of virtually all ages playing,” said Longer of the sport’s accessibility. “A disc golf course serves a broader portion of the community than narrower interest activities with higher costs and fitness level requirements.  Bottom line: disc golf is fun for everyone regardless of age, gender or economic status.”

The Gargoyle Park Public Disc Golf Course Fund at CRCF will allow the public to support the project with tax-deductible contributions. Course Sponsors are recognized on tee signs and Gargoyle’s kiosk welcome center.  According to Longer, the Twin Tiers Disc Golf Association will soon begin contacting area businesses who may be interested in providing sponsorship donations for the course and supporting its construction. 

That construction, though, will be light and will both preserve the natural landscape of Gargoyle Park, while reinvigorating the park that has sat mostly idle for a number of years.

“Disc golf is extremely sustainable because it fits within the existing flora and landscape.  Fairways do not require additional maintenance utilizing already mowed areas,” said Longer.

The main cost of the course will come from the installment of the disc golf baskets, which act as the “hole” in traditional golf, and concrete, regulation tee pads, which will allow the course to host public tournaments for youth, amateurs and even traveling pros.

According to Disc Golfer Magazine, the disc golf community is one that is passionate about its sport. Enthusiasts and pros often travel from far away to play new courses, which bring visitors from near and far to the city, adding another spark to the local economy.

The course will also provide a location for youth and adult recreation leagues, a location for intramural collegiate disc golf and opportunities for Twin Tiers Disc Golf collaboration with agencies like the YMCA and Intandem, as disc golf is a sport that can be adapted for those with physical and intellectual handicap. Gargoyle is aided by its central location between Olean and Allegany and its proximity to St. Bonaventure University and Jamestown Community College.

“Gargoyle Park Disc Golf Course will introduce youth to a sport that lasts a lifetime,” added Longer. “Among the thousands of amateur disc golf tournaments hosted each year, you will not find a more diverse group of competitors ranging from 8 to75 years of age and everything in between.”

The Twin Tiers Disc Golf Club hopes to begin installing the course as early as spring 2021, said Longer, beginning with a nine-hole layout followed quickly by the installation of the second nine holes necessary for regulation disc golf tournaments.

CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit applauded the efforts of Longer and the Twin Tiers Disc Golf Association.

“Like so many great things, this all began with a love for a cause and activity,” said Buchheit. “To provide a new, exciting opportunity for recreation in the city and to revitalize one of its beautiful parks at the same time is a unique opportunity and one that I know the public will support.”

Donations can be made to the Gargoyle Park Public Disc Golf Course Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union Street, Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org.

The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is the area’s supportive, responsive and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).