It may not have been done according to the city’s usual permitting process, but Hollister has a new disc golf course. And city officials are excited about it.
After hearing a report from Recreation Services Manager Tina Garza about the quality of the new nine-hole course at Vista Park Hill at the Dec. 20 meeting, the Hollister City Council approved the new recreation venue. Some improvements—such as a sign displaying the game’s rules and etiquette—will be required in the coming months, according to the council discussion.
The new disc golf course on top of Hill Street features sweeping views of Hollister and new exercise and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, Garza told the council. She recently walked the course with Robb Rodriguez, one of the volunteers who helped build the new course earlier this year.
Rodriguez, the executive director of Growing Hearts Garden Center, is one of many disc golf enthusiasts who volunteered to stake out the new Hollister course and install baskets for each of the nine holes. He told the council that he and other local disc golf players are in the process of forming a formal nonprofit San Benito County Disc Golf Club, which would be able to raise funds and focus on maintaining and improving the Hollister course.
Until then, Rodriguez said Growing Hearts, also a nonprofit, will continue to adopt Vista Park Hill and keep the disc golf course clean and orderly. He noted that Growing Hearts as an organization was not directly involved in installing the course.
“We are excited. We’re working on forming a disc golf club right now,” Rodriguez told the council Dec. 20.
Another volunteer and avid disc golf player, CR Gonzales, told the council about the growing popularity of the sport, and the benefits the new course is likely to bring to Hollister. He said disc golf is “the fastest growing sport in the world right now,” and there are already 33 courses within 50 miles of Hollister.
“There are many benefits to disc golf—getting outside, fresh air, exercise. It’s played by all ages and abilities; it’s easy to learn and inexpensive, which opens it up to all economic classes,” Gonzales said. “It’s environmentally friendly, and in many areas it has been shown to move bad influences out of the parks.”
He added that he has observed disc golfers visit the Park Hill course from out of town since the local volunteers installed it. “When they come, they spend their money here,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales and the volunteers—who are loosely organized on the “San Benito County Disc Golf” Facebook page—hired a professional disc golf course designer to lay out the local course. Private citizens donated more than $4,000 to help design and install the new course.
The course is designed so it doesn’t endanger or disturb other park users, he said.
Hollister residents Frankie and Joseph Sanchez both enjoy the fact that the course is in their own backyard, which means they don’t have to drive outside of town to get in a round of disc golf.
“My main thing is just being able to come out here at any time now and have a disc golf course readily available because before I had to go to Santa Cruz, San Jose or Watsonville,” Frankie said. “You kind of had to make a whole day out of it. Now, you can come out here for a couple of hours, throw a few holes and get back to doing what you were doing before.”
Frankie, 25, said it’s good to be equipped with a disc golf bag along with extra discs because some of them can end up in a tree or down the hill near the courthouse. He added that the course still needs a sturdy walking path but he believes the trails will begin to develop as more people walk on it.
“We’re blazing the path to having a clear way to play. It’s pretty fun,” he said.
Joseph is fairly new to the sport and it was just the second time he’d gone out to play. The 22-year old Hollister native said having a park nearby is great and it’s very beginner friendly.
“It’s easy to just come out and enjoy. You’re not having a hard time, you can actually practice and get used to the things,” Joseph said. “But it’s not too easy, at the same time.”
Both brothers are thrilled to have the new course but they’re more excited about trying to build a new community full of disc golf enthusiasts like themselves.
“This is my first time out here but I’m hoping to run into a lot of the community members that enjoy disc golf and just get to see everybody out, maybe become friends,” Joseph said.
And it so happened that Joseph and Frankie ran into Gonzales at the course on Monday.
City staff will work with the volunteers in the coming weeks to create and install a sign listing the rules and etiquette for the course, and how to play the sport. Councilmember Tim Burns suggested the city should consider devoting funds to mowing the weeds and grass along portions of the disc golf course.
For all the city’s enthusiasm for the new recreation option at one of Hollister’s popular public parks, it was installed without the volunteers gaining permission from City Hall. Vice Mayor Rolan Resendiz said such unpermitted projects could be seen as a “huge liability issue.”
“We don’t want every organization to go out there and do these types of projects without consulting with us,” Resendiz said. “But I think this is a huge win, and I support it.”
A group of residents “a few years back” approached city officials to ask about installing a disc golf course at the Park Hill location, Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said. The council didn’t support it at the time.
“This will bring people to our community and give our residents a chance to have some fun,” Velazquez said.
Juan Reyes contributed to this article.