‘Non-golf’ games take advantage of greens, fairways, setting
By Laurelle Walsh
Golf is no longer the only game at Bear Creek Golf Course, nor the only way to enjoy the facility’s well-kept grounds and expansive mountain views.
In the golf course’s 50th year of operation, managers Debbie and Terry Evans have introduced three new non-golf games and built two new facilities since they took over operations in January. Their goal is to multiply the ways that people can use and enjoy the golf course outside Winthrop, and broaden their customer base, they said.
The Evanses hope the new facilities and games will help them achieve what they see as their mission at Bear Creek, specifically, “to keep the course open without subsidies from the owners and become a self-sustainable recreational facility for future generations,” as stated in their mission statement.
“We’ve invested over $10,000 to make it work,” said Terry Evans. “In a small community like this you don’t know if you’re ever going to get it back, but we’re willing to give it a try.”
Three new games
As part of their effort to reach out to active people of all types, Bear Creek now offers three games on the golf course that don’t involve swinging a club: FootGolf, DiscGolf and FlingGolf.
FootGolf is played on a specially designed nine-hole course with a soccer ball; one game lasts around one hour, depending on the size of the group, Evans said. The holes are 21-inch cups in the ground, each marked with a numbered flag. “It’s a family-oriented game,” Evans said, “and you don’t have to be a soccer player to enjoy it. It’s not about kicking the ball a long way. You really have to line up the ball and read the green,” he added.
Liberty Bell High School soccer coach Lincoln Post tried out FootGolf with a group of seven high school boys and girls on a hot afternoon last week, and pronounced it “a lot of fun.”
DiscGolf has been around since the 1970s and, like FootGolf, boasts both United States and international associations. In DiscGolf, players toss a flying disc (also known as a Frisbee) from a tee area to an elevated target basket in as few throws as possible. Bear Creek’s DiscGolf course has nine holes. “Anyone who can throw a Frisbee can play DiscGolf,” said Nathaniel Hartsock, Bear Creek’s greens superintendent, who demonstrated the game for the Methow Valley News.
A lot like golf
FlingGolf is “an alternative for non-golfers who want to play alongside their golfing friends,” said Evans. “From tee to green, you play exactly the same game on exactly the same course.”
FlingGolf uses a golf ball and an ultra-light FlingStick, which looks like a cross between a golf club and a lacrosse stick. The ball is put in a channel at the end of the stick and the stick is swung sidearm, like swinging a baseball bat, or overhand, as in lacrosse. Once on the green, the ball is pushed into the hole instead of putted.
“On your very first day you can keep up with experienced golfers,” said Evans. “[FlingGolf] is the closest thing there is to golf without being golf.”
Equipment for the three non-golf games is available for rent in the pro shop, and Evans or one of his roustabouts will demonstrate to customers the basics of the games.
Facilities-wise, Bear Creek has a built a driving range and opened a new event venue, The Eagle’s Nest at Bear Creek. The Eagle’s Nest occupies the formerly little-used second floor of the clubhouse, and is available to rent for weddings, parties and meetings.
The driving range — a first for Bear Creek — was built on a grassy rise above the course with financial and physical assistance from Bear Creek Men’s Golf Club and North Valley Lumber, Evans said. At 350 yards long, the driving range provides plenty of area for rookie and veteran golfers to practice their swings. “And if anybody hits the road, I’ll give them a free bucket of balls,” Evans said.
“We want this beautiful recreational facility to be used by more people,” said Evans.
“This is a gorgeous location,” added Debbie Evans. “You put so much effort into making the golf course beautiful, you want as many people as possible to enjoy it.”