Plans are being made to add a fourth JCPRD disc golf course at Lexington Lake Park, and to possibly double the number of holes in Shawnee Mission Park, but specific timeframes for these projects have not been set.
Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses Bill Maasen said the plans are being made in response to users who would like to see some changes at some of JCPRD’s disc golf courses, which currently consist of 18-hole disc golf courses in Shawnee Mission, Heritage, and Big Bull Creek parks.
Earlier this year, the Parks & Golf Courses Division received 755 responses to its first-ever disc golf survey consisting of 12 questions.
The survey showed that about 85% of respondents were male, 88% said they play one or more of JCPRD’s three courses, and 56% said they play multiple times per week. The age groups of 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 each accounted for about 31% of respondents, while about 10% were 18 to 24, 15% were 45 to 54, about 6% each were about 55 to 64 or older than 65, and about 1% were under 18.
“The interest was amazing,” Maasen said of the response to the survey, which was online for about a month ending in late May. “We got responses from all over the metropolitan area. We knew there was interest, and we also know there’s interest from multiple age groups.”
The survey also asked participants to respond to preliminary plans for adding a nine-hole course at Lexington Lake Park and converting Shawnee Mission Park from one 18-hole course to four sets of nine holes each. In separate questions, about 95% of respondents like the plans for the Shawnee Mission and Lexington Lake courses as presented in the survey. There are currently no plans to modify JCPRD’s other two courses.
Maasen said he’s currently going through the process of hiring a course designer to lay out the Lexington Lake Park course on the ground allowing for slope, trees, and topography, and that he anticipates construction will begin in late 2022 with an anticipated spring 2023 opening.
The LLP course will be located on the park’s east side in an under-utilized area where a cross-country course used by local high school athletes is located. Disc play would not be allowed while the cross-county course is in use.
Work at the SMP course would probably begin in 2023.
“One of the reasons we conducted this survey is because there’s a common theme of complaints about the Shawnee Mission Park course is that, as it exists, it could be more challenging,” Maasen said. “What users dislike are the back and forths (alternating fairways).”
Currently, the 18-hole course at SMP begins with three holes in the Walnut Grove area, and the remainder of the course is located inside the loop to the north created by West 79th Street and West 80th Terrace. The new plan would create two sets of nine-hole courses south of the loop, and two sets to the north within the loop.
Courses to the south would include The “Art” Nine, which would incorporate public art and feature shorter fairways, and The “Ridge” Nine to the east with more typical longer fairways.
Maasen noted that the idea for The “Art” Nine came from a local artist.
“It was a result of a person who knows (Superintendent of Culture) Susan Mong, who came up with this idea of a nine-hole art course, where each hole would be an art piece or somehow art-affiliated,” he said. “It would also all be family-oriented, so you could go out with your four-year-old, or your ten-year-old, and you could all throw a disc.”
Courses to the north within the loop would include The “Prairie” Nine to the east where there is wide-open spaces and views of the nearby prairie, and The “Grove” Nine to the west where there are more trees.
“What doesn’t work about that is The “Ridge” Nine are (currently) using the first three holes of this course. So, in essence, we’ll just build six new holes up here,” Maasen said. “What I like about the disc golf generally is that it’s low-impact, it doesn’t have a lot of impact on the land, and you can build a disc golf course as a very affordable public amenity that serves a variety of ages and is family friendly.”