Salmon Toss opens Soldotna's new disc course

The Tsalteshi Trail system was alive Saturday with the sound of jingling chains and buzzing mosquitoes. The chain sounds were new disc golf baskets stopping putts. Nothing stopped the mosquitoes.

The inaugural River City Rotaract Salmon Toss Disc Golf tournament kicked off with a shotgun start at 11 a.m. with 25 golfers playing Soldotna’s first disc golf course.

Built by the River City Rotaract, the course is their largest public service project, which to date raised about $12,000 for course construction. The tournament was the premier event for the River City Rotaract this year. And though Rotaract hopes to turn the Salmon Toss into an annual event, the tournament was mostly to get the word out to disc golfers that the course was there and operational.

Meandering through the cuts of the Squirrel trail cross-country skiing expansion, the course can be a little rough yet.

It is a lot harder to find lost discs at the River City course than in Kenai or a more established courses in Anchorage, said Stephanie Musgrove, co-president of River City Rotaract, a small but active service club for younger Rotarians. She expects the issue to wane as the course is used and underbrush gets trampled down by disc golfers looking for slices and hooks off the fairway.

“I’m really proud,” Musgrove said. “It’s a really big project for our club size.”

What makes the River City course special is that has more par 4 and par 5 holes that the Kenai course, she said. And, it has 19 holes rather than 18. There was space for 19 so we made it 19, she said. With work still to do, the course needs concrete tee pads to become sectioned by the Professional Disc Golf Association.

“Not an easy course,” she said.

The usual rules of golf apply: quiet near the tee, stand behind the golfer and mulligans are sometimes allowed.

“I have to pull shots out of my trick bag,” said Anchorage disc golfer Mike Guilliame.

He came to the peninsula for the weekend to take on the new course. What confounded his game, in his opinion, is that the course was designed by a left-hander for left-handers. A Florida transplant, Guilliame started playing disc golf in 2011 and quickly began to win tournaments and considers himself one tier under the pros.

Guilliame played in a threesome with two local men and drove and chipped his discs with the flair and confidence of a practiced golfer. However the day was won by Homer Resident Edan Baelajos whose score came in six under for the par 62 course.

One of Guilliame’s partners for the day was James Musgrove of Kasilof. New to the game, he played the course three times as it was built. His wife is the one he considers the cause of it all.

“She started this,” he said, before teeing off on the 7th hole.

Reach Greg Skinner at greg.skinner@peninsulaclarion.com

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