Disc golf course opens in Empire Township

The Vermillion River flows through hole No. 3 at the recently opened Empire Township disc golf course. (Photo by Andy Rogers)
The Vermillion River flows through hole No. 3 at the recently opened Empire Township disc golf course. (Photo by Andy Rogers)

Course follows Vermillion River

Although it may be getting colder every day, perhaps its time to warm up that Frisbee-throwing arm.

Last month a nine-hole disc golf course opened in Empire Township off Biscayne Avenue, north of County Road 66 along the Vermillion River.

The Empire course is great for families and players of all skill levels, according to Chuck Kennedy, chairman of the Professional Disc Golf Association Course Development Committee, which helped Empire Township build and design the course.

The majority of the holes are par three, but there’s a few par fours along with a lengthy part five on the ninth hole.

It was scheduled to open in July, but with the wet weather, construction was delayed and it opened Sept. 1.

“It’s been getting play every day,” said Mike Carey, a member of Empire Township Parks and Recreation Committee. “We are getting a lot of positive feedback about the course and it seems to be a hit with everyone.”

The park’s original intention was a soccer field, but with the land in a floodplain, it became hard to play at times.

Disc golf is year-round sport and works well in those situations. Kennedy said people will play in snowshoes.

“People love the sport so much they find all kinds of ways to do it,” Kennedy said.

There were some challenges with the park being in an open field with few obstacles or elevation changes. But it does follow the Vermillion River, which creates some interesting holes.

“It allowed us to add a little challenge so it wasn’t a totally open course,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy tried to be responsible with how they used the river.

“We didn’t want to interfere with the fishermen,” Kennedy said. “Even while we were putting the course in, people were out in waders.”

Perhaps the signature hole is No. 3, where the river cuts through the range right before the cage.

Kennedy said if someone’s disc flies into the river, players would potentially be able to retrieve it.

Without much foliage, the course is perfect for beginners who may spray their shot, and it’s a good play for any recreational thrower.

“Really, that’s the bulk of people out there,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said in the future, if the park is successful, they may plant some trees and install other structures to enhance the course.

Before it was built, there was no place in Empire Township or Farmington to play disc golf.

The closest courses were in at the Brockway Disc Golf Course in Rosemount, Kenwood Trail Disc Golf Course in Lakeville, and Hannah’s Bend Park in Cannon Falls.

Kennedy said it’s most similar to the course in Cannon Falls, but the Empire course is longer.

Disc golf is similar to regular golf, except the ball is a disc and the hole is a chain basket.

Participants try to toss the disc into the basket in the fewest amount of throws.

All one would need is a disc for each player, which are available at most sporting goods stores.

Minnesota has one of the more active disc golf communities, according to Kennedy. He believes next summer the course will be used on the league play circuit.

“The local players may end up spontaneously generating a league there,” Kennedy said. “I expect those in the southern part of the metro will be actively using the park.”