The stakes are already in the ground for the disc golf championship course at the Coleman Memorial Park. Michael Dunkle, founder and former president of the Lebanon Valley Disc Golf Club, recently discussed the status of the course with LebTown.

Dunkle started playing disc golf in 1980 and has watched the sport grow in popularity. When COVID-19 hit the area, disc golf became a safe way for residents to gather.

“Ever since COVID-19, we draw between like 50 and 60 people a week,” Dunkle said.

Mike Snyder is the current president of the club, which was founded in the early 2000s.

Typically, the club’s disc golf season begins in mid-March, and players meet on Wednesdays until September at different courses in Lebanon County. The dates for this year’s season are yet to be announced.

“I have a partner that does the courses with me. His name is Charlie Greco. We’ve done every course in the Lebanon County area and other areas,” Dunkle said. “We’ve … designed like 12 courses so far.”

Charlie Greco, left, and Michael Dunkle pose at a disc golf basket. (Provided by Michael Dunkle)

About half a year ago, the Coleman Memorial Park’s trustees asked Dunkle and Greco to visit the park and consider its potential for a disc golf course.

“There was plenty of room there, and we both saw a great opportunity to put a course in,” Dunkle said. “Now, we didn’t know what they had planned. Once we talked to them a little more … [we learned] they were looking for something that would draw people in from all around the area and outside of the area.”

“And we more or less told them if you put a really big course in, a championship course like the one we have at South Hills that gets used all the time, you’ll definitely draw a whole lot of people into the Lebanon area.”

The park’s trustees decided to take Dunkle and Greco’s advice.

Dunkle and Greco plotted a preliminary design of the course on a master plan map given to them years prior. The park trustees then made a few revisions to their design based on the park’s logistics.

While the majority of the championship course will be situated in the park’s wooded area, no trees will be cut down during the installation of the course.

According to Dunkle, the championship course will consist of two baskets, a closer basket for intermediate players and a farther basket for professional players. All players will throw the discs from a 5×12 cement tee pad.

A player throws a disc at a basket. (Provided by Michael Dunkle)

Dunkle is also working closely with Joe Morales, who is a trustee on the Coleman Memorial Park’s board in addition to being a city councilman.

“He’s more or less spearheading the project through the trustees,” Dunkle said.

“We’re not going to use any funding if we don’t have to because we’re going to do sponsorships. Right now, [Morales is] looking for a corporate sponsorship for $10,000,” he added. “And then once we secure that, we’re going to be looking for hole sponsors, kind of like a golf course, you get your name on the hole tee sign and everything.”

An example of a hole tee sign. (Provided by Michael Dunkle)

A championship course costs about $30,000 to install. However, the championship course at the Coleman Memorial Park is designed to be self-funded, where it will be installed at no cost to the park. This appealed to the park’s trustees, who run the park on a limited budget.

Dunkle predicted that the hole sponsorships will open in a few weeks and said he will post announcements on the Lebanon Valley Disc Golf Club’s website when they open.

“Other than that … it will probably be more word of mouth,” he said. “I already have a list of about 20 people that inquired about it, local businesses in the area. … I took their information, their name and number, and I told them I’d get back to them as soon as we knew what the cost would be. And we’re working on making the forms up right now.”

“The sponsorships are going to sell quick,” he added. “We just did a course in Myerstown at Lakeside Park last summer, and the sponsorships sold out in a week and a half. So, once we put them out … there’s a lot of people that know people that have businesses that are going to want to get on the list really quick.”

The price of the hole sponsorships depends on the donations they receive from local businesses. The more they receive in donations, the lower they can set the price for the hole sponsorships.

“I’m thinking they are probably going to run between $300 and $400, that’s what I’m estimating right now,” Dunkle said. “And that would be for the life of the course. Your name would be out there as far as a business.”

The Lebanon Valley Disc Golf Club is also planning a large tournament that will benefit another nonprofit, the Conrad Weiser Historical Park. The event usually raises about $12,000.

“And we plan on doing that up for the Coleman’s Park too,” Dunkle said.

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Lexi Gonzalez has worked as a reporter with LebTown since 2020. She is a Lancaster native and became acquainted with Lebanon while she earned her bachelor's degree at Lebanon Valley College.

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