Sakuna Pines offers challenge for disc golfers

Ryan Knuth of Highlands Ranch hones in on the first hole at Sakuna Pines Disc Golf Course as he prepares a putt. Photo by Ryan Boldrey
Tim Olsen of Arvada tees off in the trees at Sakuna Pines Disc Golf Course in Black Forest. Photo by Ryan Boldrey
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Tucked away in the thick of Black Forest, adjacent to neighboring La Foret, lies what many refer to as the most challenging disc golf course in the state of Colorado.

Established in 2007 to give the more highly skilled players in the state—and those visiting from around the country—an opportunity to better their games in a beautiful setting, the Sakuna Pines Disc Golf Course offers 20 acres of wooded bliss, and a peace that is not found on many of the other “overcrowded” courses in the area.

Designed by the Colorado Springs-based Pikes Peak Flying Disc Club (PPFDC), one of the stipulations for Sakuna Pines when it was built was that no trees would be cut down in the process.

The result of that stipulation has been an extremely difficult course to play.

“We went out there and walked the property over and over again and worked on places where the holes could fit in,” said Kathy Hardyman, chairman of the Sakuna Pines Committee and three-time defending world champion. “We had to work with existing areas, existing possible fairways and do what we could with what we had. We wanted something with a lot of trees and a lot of challenge to it. They [La Foret] wanted it challenging and so did we.”

Challenging is exactly what they got.

The course, which is a private course open only to those who are members of either the PPFDC or the Professional Disc Golf Association, is not for the casual disc golfer and does have some ground rules that go along with it.

There is no alcohol or smoking allowed on the course and people are not allowed to bring their pets.

That, however, all fits in with the concept of keeping the course beautiful and not having it become over-run.

“It’s nice for serious golfers, you get a nice day out and there’s not really anybody out here,” said Ralph Townsend, the executive director at La Foret, who added he wouldn’t mind seeing a little more traffic from enthusiasts who were serious about the sport.

For those that are interested in playing there, the good news is that annual dues for the PPFDC only run $15, and the course itself, once a member, is free to play.

Sakuna Pines has also played host to national tournaments the past two years over Memorial Day and intends for the shootout to become an annual thing, coinciding with La Foret’s Meadow Grass Festival, launched this spring.

“It’s probably the most wooded course in the area,” said Ryan Knuth of Highlands Ranch, who comes down about six or seven times a year to play at the pines. “It’s really hard to hit your lines, and that is what I think disc golf is really about, hitting your lines. There are definitely some true par fours and fives here and Denver doesn’t have that.”

Aside from the challenge, what drives Knuth to Black Forest is the atmosphere.

“This is probably the best atmosphere in the state, because it is private and you don’t have that park-like atmosphere where you have to worry about people you are going to hit. It’s just great for disc golf,” he said.

And for a player playing here for the first time?

“You have to be patient,” said Knuth’s friend and fellow golfer, Joel Abrian of Arvada. “You are probably going to play the worst round of your life. You are going to hit a lot of trees. The causal player wouldn’t want to play a course like this because it is going to be too frustrating.”

According to La Foret groundskeeper Ryan Goodmen, who plays the course about once a week to make sure it is in good shape and up to par, that frustration is what tends to keep a lot of people away.

“Cottonwood is a lot easier than this one, but I play this one because it’s in my backyard. You just can’t let yourself get too frustrated,” he said.

For more information on the course as well as other courses in the area such as Cottonwood and Widefield, please visit www.ppfdc.com. There are links on the site for membership forms as well as to Hardyman’s product lines, Disc Diva and Laser Diva, which cover everything a disc golfer could possibly want.

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