After making many trips out of town to play disc golf, Marengo residents John McGowan and Fred Vroman designed and built a course at the Marengo Park District.
McGowan and Vroman built an 18-hole course across Indian Oaks Park in Marengo. The course includes nine holes in the main park area and nine holes in the wooded area on the south side of the park, McGowan said.
“I started on the project about a year ago,” he said. “Initially, I brought my idea of a disc golf course for Indian Oaks Park to Denise Anderson, who was the director of the park district at the time. Denise was very helpful in getting the project going. She put me in front of the board of commissioners. I proposed the building of the course and asked about budgets. I was told they really liked the idea, but could not afford to fund the course. I then proposed the idea of selling sponsorships to businesses and individuals, and went from there.”
The initial budget for the project was about $8,000, with the majority of the costs for the disc golf baskets, McGowan said. There is also a second phase of the project planned. To raise money for the course, Vroman and McGowan sold sponsorships for each golf hole. Some of the current sponsors include: Lynch2 Inc.; Prairie Community Bank; Heartland Home Renovations; Rosati’s Pizza of Marengo; Marengo Signs; Chains Disc Golf.com (Disc Golf Store in Crystal Lake); Flatlander Market; Glo-Bowl & Trio Grille; StoneBakers Pizza; Wisted’s Super Market; and Cafe 20. Individual sponsors include: Dave Bengston from Bull Valley; John and Liz McGowan from Marengo; Steve Polnow from Cary; and Michael E. Kutella from Huntley. Local clubs that have sponsored holes include: DISContinuum (Northeastern Illinois Club); Disc Golfer’s Union; GRABM (Rockford Disc Golf Club).
“Every hole on the course will have a beautiful, full-color sign printed by Marengo Signs,” McGowan said. “There is a good-sized area reserved for the sponsor for each hole.” The course in Marengo will be free, and a donation box will be available for those who want to help support improvements made to the course, Vroman said.
“Disc golf is a free game, and anyone can play it,” he said. “We want people to know it’s here, [and so does the park district].” McGowan said there are 684 courses within 300-miles of Marengo-- and 615 of the courses are free to play.
The current design of the course has been generating, “quite a bit of interest from outside the local area,” McGowan said.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that this course has the potential to be one of the most beautiful, easy-to-follow courses in the country,” he said. “We are also incorporating some very modern technology in the course design, including QR codes on the hole signs, that will take the user to online information about the hole they’re playing. [This includes] YouTube videos, with pros providing tips [and other functions].”
The QR codes will also serve as a way to support the course’s sponsors with links to their webpage and special offers. Vroman and McGowan said their goal is to have an official grand opening by the end of Spring 2011.
“Disc golf is a life sport,” McGowan said. “Anybody can play it. Having a course like this one will provide local families with a great way to spend an afternoon without having to drive far or spend a lot of money. It will [also] draw players from a large radius. The course we’ve designed is going to be a challenging one, but at the same time, an accessible one to new players. We are paying special attention to hole design. [We are] making sure there is an easier alternate tee location for new players, as well as very good signage to direct the players around the course so they don’t get lost.”
Vroman said they are planning to eventually offer weekly leagues for all skill levels, and hope to organize some camps and clinics for people trying the sport for the first time. “We’d also like to get involved with the local schools, taking advantage of the facility once it’s in,” he said.
McGowan and Vroman said they are in need of volunteers, sponsors, and donations. They will also be starting a local club with the website: www.marengodiscgolf.com. For more information on the course, the local club, volunteering, or donating, call John McGowan at 847-331-0201, or e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.