IF it’s 8 o’clock in the morning, there’s a good chance Angelo Archuleta, Rick Loftis and Roy Garcia are at the course. It doesn’t matter so much the day of the week for them, it’s more about getting up and getting in some play before the day gets going.

If you’re rating courses for their stunning scenery and difficulty hole-to-hole, you’d have the Alamosa course, set along the western end of the Rio Grande, at the top of the list. “If you ain’t playing here, you ain’t having fun in life that’s for sure,” says Garcia, decked in his red Reebok shirt and brimmed hat to help with the morning sun.

At the moment Garcia is scouring the area around Tee Box No. 1 for where his first shot landed. It could be in the water below or in nearby rough. In any case he’s taking in the ribbing from his buddies, Loftis and Archuleta, who have about two hours to get in as many holes as they can before other duties call.

The trio are getting in their morning play on Alamosa’s 45-hole disc golf course, a spectacular array of holes that walk you through the cottonwoods and riparian vegetation of the city’s expansive Oxbow Trails system.

Blanca Peak and the Blanca wetlands stand out as disc golfers navigate the course basket-to-basket. It’s a course first established in 2013 by Dillon Vance and one that recently added 18 more baskets to expand into 45 holes – two full 18-basket courses and then another 9 baskets on the back end for good measure.

Ken Marquez with quote from the story
Ken Marquez with quote from the story

Work of SLDGA

“We’ve created an environment for everyone,” says Ken Marquez, treasurer of the San Luis Valley Disc Golf Association (SLDGA) and one of the Valley’s ambassadors to the sport. The disc golf association sponsors tournaments, hosts league play and otherwise keeps the course in shape for the growing numbers of people discovering Alamosa’s gem.

It is the disc golf association members, numbering around 30, along with city of Alamosa Parks and Recreation staff, who have been growing the course since the first play more than a decade ago. It was the association and the city, too, that recently paid for and installed the additional 18 baskets.

Visitors, as they pass through, find the course and play it.

“I see families out here, college students. The other day I was out here and there was a couple from Iowa,” Marquez says. “They were like ‘We’re passing through.’ They bring their discs everywhere they go.”

So is the nature of disc golfers. As the sport grows in popularity, disc golfers are like other recreationalists who carry along the equipment of their sport for when the mood strikes. Or in the case of the family from Iowa, whenever they discover a cool, new course along their journey.

“People are really picking it up,” Marquez says of the sport’s popularity. The beauty of disc golf, he says, is you can purchase a driver, a midrange disc, and a putter for $20 max, making the sport affordable for young and old alike. Or, as Marquez started out when he began, you can play with a single disc and let it fly into the woods. 

Each hole on the Alamosa course is measured out, like on any golf course. Hole #10, for example, is a par 3 and 285 feet to the basket. Hole #22, on the other hand, is 660 feet from the tee box to the basket, the longest hole on the course.

The gear The gear
different views baskets

The crew works to maintain the baskets, which offer stunning views.

different views baskets

The crew works to maintain the baskets, which offer stunning views.

“We’ve done a lot of work out here cleaning this up,” Marquez said. “We’re not done. We have so much more to do.”

Next is adding a disc driving range, which the San Luis Valley Disc Golf Association is working with Alamosa Parks and Recreation to get in place. The disc golf association was able to find a sponsor for each of the 45 holes to help offset some of the costs. The group raises other money through league and tournament fees.

With more baskets added to the course, the San Luis Valley Disc Golf Association is hoping to see even more players coming out to try the sport. There is no charge to play the course, but you do need to bring your own disc.

“We just have this beautiful course out here that we want people to know about and enjoy,” says Marquez. “And then the nice thing is parks and rec has a beautiful trail system out here. We’ll be playing out here and people will ride their bikes by or have their dog along for a walk. It’s just fantastic.”

Indeed it is.

A view across the course, with blue sky and trees

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