With a powerful right-hand toss, Nathan Winfield hurled a flying disc near an oxbow of Fountain Creek hoping he hadn’t just tossed away $15.

Lost discs, it turns out, are just part of the fun at Aviary Disc Golf Course in central Colorado Springs, the second public disc golf course in the city – one praised for its high degree of challenge.

The 18-hole course begins at the El Pomar Youth Sports Park, where parking and an access trail are available at 2212 Executive Circle, and winds north along Fountain Creek, which serves as a natural water hazard.

“At one point you throw from one side of the creek to the other, and if you come up short, it drops to the water,” said Dave Boden, a 22-year veteran disc golfer. “I already lost a couple.”

If Boden was angered by his loss, he didn’t the blame course designer, Eric Bouchard of the Pikes Peak Flying Disc Club.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Boden said of the challenging design. “I’m sure it annoys lots of people, but I think it’s awesome.”

Daniel Washington and Dusty Burke Practicing Disc Golf Drives at Monument Valley Park - OutThere Colorado
Daniel Washington and Dusty Burke practice their disc golf drives in Monument Valley Park. They played at Cottonwood Park earlier in the day. Photo Credit: Carol Lawrence

Disc golf can be a difficult sport to accommodate in a city because of the amount of land it requires, and because heavy flying discs can pose hazards to other recreationists, not to mention the divots they carve when they slam into the ground.

Aviary poses few concerns along those lines. It spans an overgrown swath of Fountain Creek bordered by the El Paso County jail, noisy overpasses, former homeless camps and a sewage treatment plant. Once players descend into the creek channel, however, the eyesores fade from view and they’re surrounded by rushing water and a lush riparian corridor that teems with a diverse population of birds, which helped inspire the name.

Kyle Anders Putts #9 Hole at Cottonwood Creek Park Disc Golf Course - OutThere Colorado
Kyle Anders putts on the #9 hole at Cottonwood Creek Park Disk Golf Course. The Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Advisory Board gave unanimous support for a proposal by local disc golf enthusiasts to build five new courses in town. Photo Credit: Mark Reis

Colorado Springs police granted an easement through its vehicle impound lot to provide access, and Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful filled a 30-foot dumpster with trash deposited along the creek banks. The Pikes Peak Flying Disc Golf Club raised about $6,000 to fund the installation of the goals, which look a bit like reinforced garbage cans.

The group raised $3,000 to $4,000 more to add concrete tee pads.

With 5,000 recreational disc golf players in the Pikes Peak region, a new course was badly needed, said Winfield, of Colorado Springs.

The 20-year-old disc golf course at Cottonwood Creek Park is generally packed, with wait times of 20 to 30 minutes on weekends, Winfield said.

Cooperation between city parks staff and the Pikes Peak Flying Disc Golf Club is expected to lead to the installation of a third disc golf course in Colorado Springs, this one at Rampart Park near Rampart High School.

As with Aviary, it’s expected to be financed by disc golfers and built with the help of in-kind contributions by the parks department.

Praising the new course as a team effort, Suthers asked a favor from disc golfers in attendance – that they please keep their aim true.

“I just don’t want to hear from the Pueblo City Council about the amount of discs coming down Fountain Creek,” he said, earning laughs.

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