Little Bear Golf Course is adding a compelling new addition to its nine-hole course this season.
The Ootischenia/Castlegar-based course is family owned and operated by Kelli and daughter Kassie Morrison, who are more than thrilled to announce the development of an 18-hole disc golf course.
“Being that we are just a par-3 we are different than everything else that’s in the area, so it will definitely have a uniqueness in being able to provide the disc golf,” said Kassie. “I think disc golf is a sport that more people will be getting into as time goes on, it’s kind of new thing and trending up.”
The plan may not have come to fruition without the determination and passion of course designer Spencer Munro, also a member of the Kootenay Rockies Disc Golf Society (KRDGS).
“He’s very knowledgeable and awesome at playing disc golf,” said Kassie. “He makes it look so easy. But he’s a super nice guy, and lots of knowledge, and it was awesome to watch how he shifted things and changed things just walking the course with him.”
Patrick Audet from KRDGS originally approached Selkirk College to build a disc course, however, after two years collaboration, uncertainty around land-lease issues forced the college to pull out suddenly in early November, leaving the disc golf community disappointed and discouraged.
The KRDGS originally sought over $40,000 in funding for the project as a not for profit group, but Little Bear decided to take it on as a private developer.
“It’s a little bit easier, seeing that we already have a business,” said Morrison. “It would have been different if it was just bare land that we owned to put the disc golf on it. But seeing that we already have a restaurant and the golf course, just to have better control of it, it made more sense for us to do it ourselves.”
Needless to say, the KRDGS was elated.
“The dialogue from them (the Morrisons) early on was, ‘thank you for considering us’,” said Munro. “And we’re sitting there going ‘What the heck, no. Thank you for even listening to our proposal’.
“So that was cool, and I think it is going to be a good partnership.”
Munro helped with hole redesigns for Kamloops’ Rose Hill disc course, created a potential draft for Selkirk College that did not get developed, and with renewed conviction designed the 18-hole disc golf course at Little Bear.
“I set it up with the same flow (as the course),” said Munro. “People that play there have said that, man, it would make a great disc golf course. I totally agree, especially the elevation changes of the course make it really interesting.
“I think people are going to be really surprised about how interesting we were able to make the design, just because it’s already almost perfect for disc golf out there.”
The disc course will have its own tee-off boxes, fairways, and chain baskets, and will complement rather than crowd the nine-hole golf course.
“It will be unique in the sense that it’s there, but you don’t really know it’s there from a golf standpoint,” said Kassie. “And being able to play both sports at the same time, that aren’t going to conflict with one another, is a bonus as well.”
In addition, Little Bear already enjoys the infrastructure that would make most disc golf courses even greener with envy. The scenic course has a large parking area with a vast pond/fountain feature on hole #1, sweeping trails, manicured grass and trees throughout the course, complete with views of the mighty Columbia, a clubhouse and 19th hole restaurant/pub.
For Munro, who plays disc-golf competitively and recently competed in the ‘Open’ category of the Alberta Disc Golf Provincial Championship, the Little Bear course has massive potential.
“The course is good enough to host provincials, especially the location of it and its amenities. It would be such a perfect location to hold a big tournament like the provincials. So down the line, in a couple years we’re hoping to do that.”
Disc golf is one of the fastest growing sports in the Kootenays, and those numbers will continue to grow once construction of the much-anticipated, one-of-a-kind Little Bear disc course is completed in the spring.
“It’s a testament to Kelli and Kassie Morrison,” added Munro. “Their belief in the project is pretty astounding.”
Area disc golf courses can also be found in Rossland, Oasis, and Marsh Creek just outside of Fruitvale.
Little Bear opened in 2005. The Morrison family took over the course and have been operating it since 2014.