TILLAMOOK — A new agreement between the Port of Tillamook Bay and the Tillamook School District will bring a “gem of disc golf courses” to the North Oregon Coast. The port and the school district signed an agreement last month that designates several acres of port property for a new disc golf course. The course, which is being crafted by nationally renowned disc golf course designers, is set to open before the end of next year.
“Working collaboratively with the school district to bring this recreational opportunity to Tillamook has been an amazing process,” said Port General Manager Michele Bradley. “Although the Port of Tillamook Bay is zoned for light and medium industrial use, that zoning also allows us to have recreation. The preliminary course design tucks into the tree line and stays away from the main industrial area.”
Under the agreement, the port will own the course, and the school district will design and maintain the course. It will have first rights to use the course for physical education classes, as well as for tournaments with the middle school and high school disc golf clubs.
Members of the public may also use the course, which will be accessible for a greater range of hours than the Bohannan Disc Golf Course around East Elementary School and Tillamook Junior High School.
As with the course at the schools, this disc course will be free for the public to use, although there will be a parking fee to assist with maintenance.
“I think for me, anytime we can provide access and opportunities for students in our community by working with stakeholders, that’s something that’s a no brainer,” said Superintendent Curt Shelley. “This is something that our community and visitors can have access to a disc golf course that will be known statewide, and you just can’t pass up that opportunity.”
Shelley, Bradley, and school employee Colin Walker worked together to create the agreement after identifying a need for more disc golf facilities. Walker, who also helped establish the Bohannan Disc Golf Course, said many local players have grown their skills and are now looking for a new challenge.
“Bohannon is designed, really, for entry level players and for students, so they have an easy access point into the world of disc golf. This new course will be a significantly greater challenge for our more experienced players,” Walker said.
The existing course in Tillamook also has seen an increase in use during the COVID-19 pandemic, driven in part by the nature of the sport. Walker said it proved a safe way to socialize during the pandemic because it is outside and easy to stay six feet apart while playing.
Walker expects the course to draw visitors from all over the country. And those visitors will infuse the local economy by spending money on food, gas, lodging and other goods and services.
To enrich the course experience, course designers plan to include informational signs about the history of the port property, which once belonged to the US Navy as a World War II air base. Bradley said the port is working with the Tillamook Coast Visitors Association to emphasize the sustainable tourism component of the course, design a logo, come up with a course name, and find sponsors for the course.
Walker added that the signs are an opportunity to highlight not just the natural beauty of the area and historical aspects of the property.
“We can include on every tee sign a bit of information about the historical significance of the blimp base or the hills overlooking the valley,” Walker said. “We can use the course to present the best of what Tillamook County has to offer.”
The port is working with Jeff Haggerty and Dustin Keegan, two “top-tier” course designers, Walker said. Walker’s relationship with the designers has been invaluable, said Bradley.
“We have inarguably the two best course designers working on this course at the port, and we are looking to raise the bar a little bit. When people come to play the loop of courses on the Oregon Coast, I expect that Tillamook will be the place that stands out,” he said. “We’re really excited about the idea of creating the gem on the North Coast.”
The port will help support the course however it can, Bradley said. That includes adding disc golf equipment to the Tillamook Air Museum gift shop. The museum also purchased nine portable disc baskets for event use.
“I can’t show enough gratitude for the work of all the partners involved,” Bradley said. “We are really excited for people to be able to get out and enjoy this new disc golf course. Mr. Walker has presented to the Port Board many times, and the excitement he has created for this project is contagious.”
If you are interested in sponsoring the disc golf course, please reach out to Julie Hurliman at Tillamook Coast Visitors Association email@example.com.