With the COVID-19 lockdown has come a resurgence in socially distanced outdoors activities, including disc golf. Goleta courses have always been popular among Santa Barbara County players, but those seeking a serene, family-friendly, fresh-air experience are now also driving along Highway 154 to the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area.
In January 2017, the Cachuma Lake Disc Golf Course was installed and offered out-of-town visitors and local competitors alike another place to play the sport they love. Just a year and a half later, the popularity of the first circuit inspired the installation of a second. The Cachuma Lake Mohawk Disc Golf Course opened in early November 2018, completing one of the most prominent two-course spots in California.
“It’s just the perfect place to disc golf,” said head course designer Hugh Montgomery of the naturally shaded, undulating terrain. “The beauty of the area around the lake, the space for several basket positions on every hole, and how the [Cachuma Lake Recreation Area] appreciates our presence and the gate revenue.”
The courses were many park officials’ first encounter with disc golf, but their immediate popularity and the friendliness of the players was enough for Supervising Ranger Grahm Williams to give it a try. “When the course was being built, I knew disc golf was a sport, but I had no idea what it really was,” he said. “But over the years, I’ve really fostered a love for the game, and I’ve made a lot of friends. I try to play after my shift at least a couple times a week.”
“I have seen a lot of families enjoying the sport,” Williams continued. “People come to the park not knowing anything about disc golf and just deciding to try it out. It’s been a positive way for people to recreate.”
Disc golf follows the same general scoring and playing format as golf, except instead of tiny white balls, players use small, colorful frisbees and aim for baskets on poles instead of holes in the ground. And compared to traditional golf, where one must pay hefty greens fees to cover the maintenance of the course, disc golf is very affordable and easily accessible. The discs themselves are also pretty cheap, ranging from $8 to $16 each at the on-site store.
With the luxury of an open setting comes the natural danger of wildlife, however. “Definitely keep your eyes out for rattlesnakes,” says Williams. “If you’re reaching for your disc or walking on the trail, just be aware that they are out there.”
The Cachuma Lake course is open year-round for day use. The Mohawk course is open seasonally from mid-October through April. All status updates for the recreation area can be found at countyofsb.org.
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